I’ve heard the construction noises for months. They seem especially loud when Jim Harbaugh is answering questions at the media tent, which sits outside next to the 49ers practice field. The 49ers practice right next to their new home, Levi’s Stadium. This afternoon, as part of the ceremonial “season ticket holders sit in the first seats” media gathering, I got to take a tour of the stadium that will be home to both the San Francisco 49ers and Super Bowl 50.
As you can see, they’re red and are engraved with the 49ers’ logo at the top. There’s a standard-sized cupholder in the rear, but the main differences between these seats and the ones you see at Candlestick are (1) they’re contoured and (2) the plastic is much thinner and lighter. I’ve heard that these seats are about two inches smaller (I’m guessing in terms of width) than the ones at The Stick, but I’m not sure if that’s true — I didn’t sit down in one. The legroom didn’t seem incredibly spacious but it wasn’t too bad — somewhere in between United Economy and Economy Plus.
This area is called the 300 Level, and sits behind the south end zone. Concession stands on the right (in green).
The locker room
No, this isn’t prison, it’s a view from both sides of the 49ers’ new spacious digs — I’m just estimating, but the new locker room (which is unfinished, in case you can’t tell) has to be at least three times bigger than the one they currently use at Candlestick. That place is tiny, which means if you enter right after it’s opened after a game you have to keep your head on a swivel to avoid getting knocked over by 300-lb guys with towels around their waists. The postgame scene in the new locker room will conceivably be a lot safer for players and scribes.
From the locker room, the 49ers will walk through a hall until they reach this opening on the east side of the field.
Here’s what they’ll see when they exit the tunnel and enter the field of play, which I assume will be grassier.
The suites tower
Here’s the view of the southern half of the eight-story structure that’ll house luxury suites and press seating.
And here’s the northern side. There will be a “living roof” on top, where the players who are inactive will sunbathe during games. At least, that’s what I would do during the first few weeks of the season when it’s still pretty warm in Santa Clara.
North end zone
South end zone
Both scoreboards will be the same size. If you notice the black strips on the left side of the scoreboard in the south end zone, those are speakers. The videoboard will cover those speakers, but the sound from those speakers will still permeate the screen. Crazy.
Where most of the fans will sit
These photos were taken sometime around 4:30 pm. I noticed three things right off the bat.
- The upper decks are MUCH closer to the field than 49ers fans are used to. When standing on the field, it seems like the east stands are right on top of you. This place won’t have the acoustics of Seattle’s stadium, but the 49ers’ home field advantage will definitely come from the east side.
- There are no overhangs on any of the decks (this goes for the end zones and the west sideline, as well). That’s nice for people who don’t want to sit in the dark during the day, but people who bought Lower Reserved tickets at Candlestick to avoid potential rain showers will be out of luck at Levi’s Stadium.
- The sun shines directly at the east stands, and until late in the season people who sit there should expect to be in the sun for the entirety of most games that kick off around 1 pm.
Here’s another view from the side that shows where the sun hits:
Don’t forget your sunscreen!
An American flag has waved in this location since they started construction of the stadium. Our tour guide told us that a local veteran comes by the site every day and let’s them know whenever rips start showing up on the flag. Thanks to the vet, the flag has been replaced three times.
Time to leave
Here’s a look from the southeast corner. Behind me was a set of ramps that we walked down to exit.
I took this last photo while standing on a bridge that goes from the Great America Parking lot to the stadium. A creek runs underneath.
And that’s it! Here’s a video with a panoramic view from the center of where the field will be.