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Red and Gold accused of being too white

Civil rights attorneys are threatening a lawsuit due to an alleged lack of minority-owned companies working to construct the new 49ers stadium in Santa Clara.

In a letter to the 49ers, the city of Santa Clara and the NFL, attorneys argued that black-owned construction businesses, in particular should have been given more consideration on the $1.2 billion project.

After all, they said, the 49ers’ success on the field is largely in thanks to the efforts of its black athletes.

Everett Glenn, Long Beach-based attorney and president of a nonprofit advocacy group for black athletes, told the San Jose Mercury News:

“Our [black] children are why you’re building the stadium — to make more money off of these players. It’s time we share in the harvest. What do we get out of this industry?”

Officials who oversee the project argued that Prop. 209, the anti-affirmative-action law passed in 1996, requires them to not consider the races of subcontractors.

According to developers and city officials, contracts were awarded to firms representing numerous different races and ethnicities, although specific examples weren’t stated.

The main stadium developers, Milpitas’ Devcon Construction and New York City’s Turner Construction, said they will investigate the issues raised in the letter. They pointed out more than half of the 1,000-plus workers on the site are members of minority groups.

They told the Mercury News in a joint statement:

“We have been and will continue to be fully open to minority participation on this project.”

Oren Sellstrom, director of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights in San Francisco, co-signed the letter that threatened the lawsuit. With the stadium 40 percent complete, he said there is still time to involve minority-owned companies in the remaining construction.

The 49ers declined to comment to the Mercury News.

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