Hosting a Super Bowl is a massive financial boon to any city, bringing all that is the NFL, including its sponsors and fans from all over the country, in for the biggest sporting event of the year on American soil.  And when the new 49ers stadium was given the special distinction of hosting Super Bowl 50, it was seen as a huge victory for the Bay Area and the 49ers’ new stadium.

There are, however, some pains and uncomfortable realities that come with all the glitz and glamour with hosting the Super Bowl. And right now Santa Clara is feeling some of those in a true “David and Goliath” conflict between the NFL and local youth soccer organizations.

The NFL will be using local youth soccer fields close to Levi’s Stadium for a mammoth media complex that will be in use from January-March surrounding the big game.  And the displacement of hundreds of youth soccer players to accommodate the Super Bowl frustrates some of the locals.  Via the San Jose Mercury News:

In less than two weeks, when the NFL moves in to transform Levi’s Stadium and its surroundings for Super Bowl 50, Robertson and hundreds of youth soccer players must move out. The Santa Clara Youth Soccer Park will be turned into an enormous “media village,” as workers begin yanking out fences, tearing out dugouts and plopping down wooden platforms for about 6,000 members of the media to work in the shadow of the stadium.

“The 49ers and NFL care more about the property than the kids,” said Robertson, 16, who’s been playing since he was 6 years old. “I think it’s pretty unfair because that park has been there even before the plans for the stadium. I just think we deserve to be there.”

Of course, the NFL and city officials counter the protests from the local youth soccer organizations by saying that the NFL has already agreed to fix any issues leftover from the use during Super Bowl week.  Naturally, there are also issues with who agreed to what and when and who knew of what plans and when:

But Mayor Jamie Matthews said the NFL has agreed to repair any damage left from the Super Bowl activities. The City Council in 2013 unanimously approved providing the soccer park, golf course and other city sites to the NFL, he added, and can’t control how the league uses the facilities. 

“It’s drama for the sake of drama,” Matthews said. “The reality of it is the NFL has committed in writing to repair any damage. This will be a temporary inconvenience.”

Matthews said he doesn’t know how the soccer field will look after the Super Bowl leaves town. “I can’t anticipate what kind of damage there will be,” he said. “But they promised to leave it in as good or better shape than they found it.”

This conflict is symbolic of some of the deals and sacrifices that have to be made to host an event as large as the Super Bowl.  It’s also symbolic of some of the public and private tug of wars that have surrounded the Bay Area Super Bowl… or is it the Santa Clara Super Bowl.  Levi’s Stadium is a 52 minute Google Maps drive from San Francisco, but the biggest city in the Bay Area will be headlining a lot of the activities surrounding the game

Nevertheless, as far as this story goes, the NFL will definitely want to nip any negative public relations in the bud here.  Nothing says “greedy corporate conglomo” like destroying youth soccer infrastructure to prevent kids from playing sports.

[San Jose Mercury News]