“Victory has a thousand fathers, defeat is an orphan,” –John F. Kennedy
Here it comes. The biggest, baddest sports spectacular in the United States of America. Super Bowl L–that is L as in roman numeral 50 and “L”as in “L”ove it–is an unofficial national holiday. This is an extravaganza and event so special that it dwarfs all other sporting events.
It started with a vision, a letter and a personal visit. Former Santa Clara Vice-Mayor Kevin Moore, a sports enthusiast, wrote a letter to the 49ers describing his idea to build a new stadium in Santa Clara. It was a Hail Mary, but the 49ers were already headquartered in Santa Clara, the land was available, the weather is outstanding, the infrastructure and transit options first class, and Candlestick Park was a deteriorating joke.
Moore hand delivered his idea to the 49er headquarters. The missive was taken upstairs to 49er executive Larry MacNeil, who is currently the executive director of development. Thus began the odyssey that culminated in the new 49ers stadium in Santa Clara.
Soon meetings with John York, who played a pivotal role in the effort, became initial negotiations with the City of Santa Clara, whose city manager Jennifer Sparacino was initially skeptical of the plan. When the younger, charismatic Jed York took the reigns; the project picked-up momentum. Jed York is a nonpretentious, optimistic figure who understands the 49er history and was willing to go to peoples houses individually to garner support.
During this time, Moore became the go to guy in helping communicate policy and political support for the project; often using shuttle diplomacy between the 49er executives and his city’s administration, careful not to over-step his role.
Moore next came up with the idea to take Commissioner Roger Goodell and top NFL executives up on the sky tower ride at California’s Great America Amusement Park. He enlisted Mayor Patty Mahan to guide the tour and Mahan extolled the virtues of Santa Clara, including the existing infrastructure and transportation, and the day was absolute magic! Moore, Mahan, along with Councilwoman Lisa Gillmor became the trinty of the stadium project, acting in unison to provide the political validation necessary for success.
Moore is a very competitive person. He is not above playing hard ball in a political campaign to win. He has upset a few people in his career, but he is also a person who puts down the gloves after a political fight and will work with anybody who will help improve Santa Clara, or for that matter, the community at large.
He enlisted his other friends on the council including Jamie Matthews and Pat Kolstad to build a solid majority for success. They were enthusiastic and are natural allies of Moore. But Moore also reached out to his past political opponents, former council members John McLemore and Aldyth Parle became supporters despite differences from past political campaigns.
His close allies sometimes gave him grief for reaching out to past political opponents. But Moore put the interests of the stadium first. He got Chris Stampolis and Jim Rowen, who are currently in the middle of a lawsuit, on board. He made the strong recommendation to bring on political constituent Ed McGovern who brilliantly guided the 49ers through the election. He also recommended Jude Barry, Peter Allen and Rich Robinson all of whom contributed to the victory.
He couldn’t convince everybody, but he tried. Two colleagues rebuffed him, but even with their instranigence he continued to reach out asking, “how can we bring them aboard, is there a win-win deal we can work?”
Only after he realized they would never support the project, did he steamroll them politically. In addition, the Southbay Labor Council, the Chamber of Commerce crowd, the Mercury News, the Metro and the Silicon Valley Leadership Group supported the effort.
Once the stadium was a foregone conclusion, the next collaborative effort went forward in a bid for Super Bowl. Mayors Ed Lee, Jamie Mathews, Chuck Reed and Jean Quan checked their cities egos at the door and worked together to bring the Super Bowl to the Bay Area. United in their effort for the region, it was a huge juxtaposition from the other contender, Miami, which failed to garner the necessary political support from their state legislature.
Now we are getting a Super Bowl in San Francisco and Santa Clara and San Jose and Oakland; for the event will lift all of these cities and the entire region. It is a model of what can happen when people come together for the benefit of all.
It is also the tale of one man’s vision and how he worked behind the scenes to make it a reality. Sometimes the Hail Mary works.