Thousands of free tickets for 49ers home games have been given to a city agency — but who received them, when and why is unknown.
As the Recreation and Park Department now works to comply with a new state regulation about gifts, The Examiner has learned that the tickets have been doled out in the past by general managers of the department in a manner that was unaccountable and devoid of any policy.
For each Niners game, the team gives two stadium tickets to each of the 11 members of the Board of Supervisors, and Rec and Park receives another 40, half regular seating and half box seats.
The 49ers tickets given to Rec and Park at the beginning of the season are part of the lease agreement between the department and the team, said Rec and Park spokeswoman Lisa Seitz Gruwell. The City owns Candlestick Park, where the 49ers play home games, and the stadium is operated and maintained by Rec and Park.
“Right now, it’s about as clear as mud regarding which city officials get free tickets to events like 49ers games, but that will change,” Gruwell said.
She was also unable to tell The Examiner who had received any of the hundreds of tickets in the past.
In December, the California Fair Political Practices Commission passed a regulation that requires city agencies statewide to report when they receive gifts and how they use them, then put the information online for the public to see.
Rec and Park officials say they are still working on how to comply with the new rules, specifically how to define gifts received, the value of the presents and how to report them appropriately.
That makes it difficult to put a price tag on the tickets, Gruwell said.
Additionally, Rec and Park is still determining who should be reporting the tickets as gifts when supervisors or other agencies receive them.
According to the 49ers’ ticket hot line, the cheapest stadium seat is $59 and box seats are sold in 20-person packages for $13,500 a game.
The number of tickets Rec and Park is allocated, how much they are worth and who exactly is getting them is something The City’s taxpayers should know, one Fair Political Practices Commission official said.
The state agency is attempting “to provide greater disclosure to the public about how public funds are being utilized, based on the premise they are owned and controlled by the agency and therefore are public resources,” Executive Director Roman Porter said.
Rec and Park officials say they are working to get the required gift reports up on the department’s Web site by the end of the month.
Under new California Fair Political Practices Commission regulations, San Francisco’s Recreation and Park Department must post the following on its Web site:
Source: Recreation and Park Department
The 49ers ticket issue is the latest in a series of problems that have plagued city officials when it comes to attending sports games for free.
This year, the Recreation and Park Department is holding back the two free tickets set aside for each member of the Board of Supervisors while questions about the legality of the handouts is resolved.
The issue of free tickets first affected city officials in 2007, when a local law went into effect that barred city officials and other workers from receiving gifts from companies that do businesses with Rec and Park.
That new law led to members of the Board of Supervisors having to pay for the free tickets they had received for Giants games.
If supervisors have accepted the tickets in the past, they are expected to report gifts to The City’s Ethics Commission.
— Kamala Kelkar