Levi’s Stadium, the 49ers’ brand new $1.3 billion facility in Santa Clara, is officially open for business. In the stadium’s debut event, the San Jose Earthquakes delighted 48,765 fans with a 1-0 win over the conference rival Seattle Sounders.
In a fast paced back and forth game, the winning goal was scored by Yannick Djalo, who was superbly set up by man of the match Chris Wondolowski.
Seattle played a high line all night and for the most part it had been effective in keeping the majority of San Jose’s action in the midfield. But right before halftime, Wondolowski received the ball deep and then delivered a sublime chip to a streaking Djalo who coolly finished his one-on-one against the keeper.
San Jose would produce a few more chances in the second half — including a breakaway for Djalo in the 61st minute — but they were unable to add to their lead. With time winding down Seattle threw men forward in search of an equalizer. That equalizer nearly came in the 85th minute; the Sounders produced a free header off a corner only to be saved by Wondolowski who cleared the ball off the line.
With the Earthquakes closing down the 49ers’ old home and opening their brand new one, perhaps the 49ers could return the favor and open the brand new Earthquakes Stadium next year with a scrimmage or something. It would only be fair.
While the product on the field was excellent and ended exactly as the home team preferred, there are still a few kinks to work out with the stadium.
Some people complained of heavy traffic getting to the stadium and difficulty getting parking spaces. Perhaps I was lucky or timed things right but when I got to the Stadium (about 5:45, for the 7:30 start time) things were not bad.
The security lines were busy, but seemed to be moving quickly. What’s nice is there seems to be several more entrances at Levi’s stadium compared to what was available at Candlestick. The lines for security were heaviest near Gate A, which takes fans to the main plaza. The other lines were significantly less congested, especially near Gate C.
After years of cramped, slow moving, claustrophobic concourses at Candlestick, the new ones at Levi’s stadium are a welcomed change. The lower concourses were busy, with fans taking the grand tour around the stadium. However, they moved at a nice pace. It was also nice to have an open view to the field on all areas except the side of the field that houses the suite tower.
For a soft opening/practice run things went pretty well, all things considered. Figuring out the traffic and parking situation looks like something that’ll take a while to figure out. The reports on parking is that the worst congestion was for the lots closest to the stadium, with the lots further out having fewer issues if any. It will be interesting to see what the 49ers learn from this game and how things will go when the stadium is at capacity.
Even with the traffic and parking problems, it’s hard to say that anybody is going to be disappointed with the 49ers’ new home. The extra amenities and comforts should give the 49ers some bit of a grace period with fans to get things right, but they better learn quickly to deliver on Levi’s Stadium’s promise.