Santa Clara, Calif. • A coalition of civil rights groups has objected to the racial breakdown of companies working on the new San Francisco 49ers stadium in Santa Clara, saying they have not found any minority-owned companies among the contractors and subcontractors that have been hired to work on the $1.2 billion stadium.
In a letter to the city of Santa Clara, the 49ers and the NFL, the groups said black-owned firms should have gotten more of the construction contracts because African-American players are behind the team's success on the field, the San Jose Mercury News reported on Wednesday.
"Our [black] children are why you're building the stadium to make more money off of these players," said Long Beach-based attorney Everett Glenn, president of a nonprofit advocacy group for black athletes. "It's time we share in the harvest."
Project officials countered that under an anti-affirmative action law passed by state voters, they were required not to consider race when selecting firms. Proposition 209 passed in 1996. They said contracts have been awarded to firms owned by a variety of races and ethnicities, although they could not provide specific examples, according to the Mercury News.
The main stadium developers, New York City-based Turner Construction and Milpitas-based Devcon Construction, said they are researching the issue in response to the letter. More than half of the 1,000-plus workers on the site are members of minority groups, they said.
"Turner Construction Company is proud of its relationships with local trade unions and minority-owned business contracting firms throughout the country," Turner and Devcon said in a joint statement. "We have been and will continue to be fully open to minority participation on this project."
The letter, which threatens a lawsuit, was sent Friday by civil rights attorneys and groups that promote black and Hispanic contractors.
Oren Sellstrom, director of the San Francisco-based Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights, said there is still time to involve minority-owned companies in any work that remains to be done and future contracts.
The 49ers declined to comment to the Mercury News.