I had the opportunity recently to attend a pre-season football game at the newly opened Levi’s Stadium located in Santa Clara, CA. It is the new home of the San Francisco 49ers. While the game itself was rather uneventful (the 49ers lost to the Denver Broncos), it was a beautiful Sunday afternoon and a great opportunity to see “firsthand” what so much of the excitement has been about over the last several months. The 49ers football organization has, as you probably have heard already, relocated their franchise from San Francisco, further south in the Bay Area, to Santa Clara. Here’s some thoughts and observations from my day at the park–
1. It is a beautiful looking stadium, and very high tech, worthy of representing Silicon Valley and all that the Bay Area has become. I enjoyed using the built in WiFi service on my iPhone, and no matter where I walked throughout the stadium, I never missed a play of the game, due to the more than 1100 (I think) screens and monitors that are throughout the park. Some fans near me ordered food from their iPhone and had it delivered right to their seat, which was interesting to watch. I prefer to get up and stretch my legs, but a brief walk from any seat in the house gets you to a nearby food or beverage stand. I believe the two large screens at each end of the park are the largest in the NFL league, and you really can’t miss any part of the game.
2. It wasn’t a cheap date. Ok, new stuff can cost more, I get that. Lots of people are complaining about the prices, not only for the tickets, but also for the stuff….the food, the jerseys, the parking….they aren’t cheap. As much as I want to join the whining bandwagon, you have to be realistic….things cost more today than in years gone by. Gone are the days of the double-header baseball game, when you could take the family out for a few dollars and enjoy the afternoon. But the facilities are nice, the seating is well laid out (you can see the game from every seat really, really well), and the concessions are well stocked and well located. If you are hungry, try one of the food trucks along the “Faithful 49 Fan Walk” out in front of the stadium before heading to your seat. The food was good, the prices a little more reasonable, and the lines weren’t bad. I had a BBQ Tri Tip sandwich which was one of the best I’ve had in a long while.
3. Security was solid and well organized. My observation is that there was plenty of security, the scanning and systems used up front (including the video cameras that I could see) kept the crowds moving smoothly and the stadium workers and local police and sheriffs were all pretty well in sync. That’s not an easy task for handling sixty thousand fans at a time. Even with the alcohol flowing through the concession stands, the crowd seemed to enjoy the facility and there didn’t appear to be any vandalism or criminal behavior present–well done.
4. Parking wasn’t as bad as expected. We were able to park in a garage adjacent to the park with our yellow parking pass. I recommend you buy a parking pass in advance–this will only help your experience. But there was also plenty of people using mass transit, and bicycles (they have a lot for securing your bike up close to the stadium entrance, which is thoughtful). There were plenty of people directing traffic which helped as well.
Over all, it was a positive first time experience. Operationally, Levi’s Stadium seems on top of their game, and certainly ready to house the Super Bowl at the end of the 2015-16 season. If you get the opportunity to take in a game at the new stadium this year, please do so–you will not be disappointed!