LEVI’S STADIUM — Brandishing a pair of golden scissors, members of the San Francisco 49ers organization, the NFL and their business partners ushered in the start of a new era Thursday.
The ribbon-cutting ceremony celebrated the completion of Levi’s Stadium, the 49ers’ new home and California’s first venue built specifically for football since 1967.
Photos by Godofredo Vasquez/SFBay
Splashing red seats across a bright-white structure, Levi’s Stadium outshines the outdated confines of Candlestick Park in every conceivable way.
The 68,500-seat stadium will boast a pair of 13,600 square foot scoreboards, over 400 miles of data cables, and more than 1,200 access points to free Wi-Fi around the stadium.
Its sustainable design has earned the stadium a LEED Gold certificate, the only professional sports venue of its kind to do so.
Speaking to a crowd at the steps of Dignity Health Plaza inside the stadium, 49ers CEO Jed York expressed excitement at the opening of his team’s new venue:
“Levi’s Stadium is the best stadium in the world for the best fans. I can’t wait for the 49ers faithful to enjoy this in person, and now it’s time to make some new memories in our new home.”
The stadium has drawn a certain amount of ire from fans for being in Silicon Valley instead of San Francisco, though the design should make it easier on fans commuting to games by both car and mass transit.
Approximately 30,000 parking spaces are in the area immediately surrounding the stadium, compared to Candlestick Park’s 18,000.
13 freeway and exit points provide vehicle access, and a light rail line stops directly in front of the stadium for commuters who want to leave their car at home.
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell addressed the team’s decision to move to Silicon Valley before the ceremony:
“Obviously leaving San Francisco is an emotional issue. But this is still the 49ers and this is still the Bay Area’s team. We have a number of stadiums that are outside of even the state … so this is the region’s team, and that won’t change.”
The spacious setting of Santa Clara also allowed the team to nearly double the square footage of Candlestick Park, with Levi’s Stadium coming in at a hefty 1,850,000 sq. feet. This allows for a wider concourse area which should reduce fan congestion, making it easier to traverse the stadium.
One potential concern Santa Clara Mayor Jamie Matthews said he is working to resolve is noise from airplane traffic that flies over the stadium from flights out of Mineta San Jose International Airport:
“We are working closely with the San Jose International Airport and the FAA to ensure that we are able to accommodate all that want to come into the Silicon Valley, all the general aviation that are here and of course all of our planes that come into Silicon Valley.”
Three generations of the York family got slices of the spotlight during the ceremony, with John York quick to commend his son for bringing the stadium to fruition:
“We had a vision of what we wanted to do in the Santa Clara community with this stadium…It has superseded what I could ever imagine, so [Jed] has done a tremendous job.”
It was then Jed York’s turn to make a speech to his own son. Jed admitted he teared up while pulling off the freeway earlier the morning, and choked up while explained the sentimental value of his new stadium:
“My son Jackson, I know he doesn’t understand what I’m saying now, he’s sitting on grammy’s lap, but I can’t wait to experience Levi’s Stadium with you. You push me to be a better person everyday and you don’t even know it. And I just can’t wait to experience this stadium with you.”
Levi’s Stadium will host its first event — an MLS matchup between the San Jose Earthquakes and the Seattle Sounders FC — on August 2.
The 49ers will take their new home field for the first time in a preseason matchup against the Denver Broncos on August 17.