Levi’s Stadium – San Francisco 49ers
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The New Age of the NFL Game Experience Has Arrived at Levi’s Stadium
From 1971 to 2013, the San Francisco 49ers called Candlestick Park home which like many venues was slow to adapt and became an unacceptable place for the world-class franchise to call home. While other teams remodeled or built from scratch stadiums the 49ers struggled to find a place to build a new home and remodeling Candlestick was not an option.
Over time and with no solution for a venue to share with the AFC’s Oakland Raiders, the 49ers chose Santa Clara as the site for their new home. In 2014, it opened to tremendous acclaim and continues to be one of the finest venues to watch pro football.
Featuring unique design elements, creative sight lines, and reliable technology characteristics all packaged in an airy inclusive environment, Levi’s Stadium provides an incredibly fulfilling experience.
Food & Beverage 4
There are so many options to list that the question is not what to order, but if are you willing to pay the price. The range is far and wide, and creativity is ever present. Let’s start with the basics, for drinks a small soda is $4, souvenir soda is $8, and bottled soda is $6. Beer is served in a wide variety with a small domestic draft at $6 while regular domestic draft or domestic bottles are $10. Water, hot chocolate and Peet’s coffee are $5.
For eats, no entrée is under $10. A 49er hot dog is $4 but snack sized. A vegan dog is $6 while a jumbo dog is $10. Pulled pork and brisket sandwiches, both served with chip are $15. Seafood options include clam chowder at $11, gumbo at $14 and a bay shrimp roll at $17.
For snacks, peanuts, candy and nachos are $6. Popcorn and a soft pretzel are $7; add $2 for a cheese cup.
A link to what you can find and where throughout the stadium can be found here. Print this out before you go.
Now the special places where you can eat and drink, some may be a little harder to come by, but to know they are there and available might just cause you to change your view of the typical visit to NFL game.
Consider the Bourbon Steak or Bourbon Pub, each with different hours and applications on game-days as well as non-game days.
Michael Mina’s Tailgate is a member’s only access restaurant; the menu changes with the opponent, tailored to the city from where they call home. Maybe you can find a member to come along so you can enjoy this unique experience. The cost is $3,500 for the 10-game season per person, all-inclusive drinks and food all game long.
Before game day, make sure you download the Levi’s Stadium phone app. It has everything you need to navigate the stadium and even order food from your seat for delivery while not missing a second of the game.
The experience starts early for a 49ers game. Lots start to fill up as early as 3.5 hours before kick-off. The grills and smokers start as soon as the cars can be parked. The smells will overwhelm you and indicate the fun is just getting started. Also on game day, the 49ers Official Tailgate Party, the Faithful Mile, opens three hours before game time. It is located just inside the security perimeter, but outside the stadium on the venue’s west side. It runs the length of the building with San Tomas Aquino Creek separating it from the stadium.
Two things you can see up close here are the 49ers Gold Rush cheerleaders and the Niner Noise Drum & Percussion Group. If you need to eat once you get to the game, this might be the place to do it.
Gates to the stadium open two hours prior to kick-off. The 49ers take up space along the west side line while their opponents get a chance to look into the sun from the east side line. The 49ers enter the stadium from the southeast corner of the end zone while their opponents enter from the northwest corner.
West sideline seats are made up of club seats and above these sections is a building filled with suites and the press box. If you are not sitting on the west side, know there is still value on this side of the field for you. It comes in the form of a cleverly designed “bypass” which allows fans to travel from end zone to end zone, avoiding the massive clutter in the areas around the other main concourses.
There are two main scoreboards high above each end zone which offer crystal clear replays and statistics. Just below the scoreboards in this level is the Pepsi Fan Deck on the north end and the Bud Light Patio on the south end, two great areas with lots of room to enjoy with a group and view the game from a spectacular sight line.
Electronic ribbon boards encircle the areas which divide the two lowest and two highest levels around the seating bowl, providing basic statistics and out-of-town scores.
Concourses are widest at the lower levels, but even they are congested prior to the game and at half time. At higher levels, while the concourses are more narrow they offer spectacular, open air views of mountains.
Technology is a key driver to enhancing the overall experience at Levi’s Stadium. Know because you will likely use it while attending a game here, there are charging stations for your phone as well.
Wi-Fi is more reliable here than many stadiums as Levi’s Stadium is the first stadium to carry 40 gigabytes of internet capacity.
The Levi’s Stadium mobile app is one of the best there is, just be sure you sign-up in advance. Ticketing and parking, food and beverage service and high-quality video replays in addition to a tie-in with the 49ers fan loyalty program are all accessible through the app.
Levi’s Stadium shares a parking lot with Six Flags Great America to the south and west. Before the game, there is activity known as the Red Zone Rally, at $85 a ticket, it includes food and drink for three hours before the game, access to the Flight Deck Roller Coaster, live music, and the early NFL games on more than 45 monitors. The Santa Clara convention center is to the northwest and there are apartments and condos to the east. Nearby there are hotels with some places to eat but this area is not a bustling hub of activity leading up to the game.
The fans are loyal and the home team is well represented by fans wearing jerseys from the team’s 70-year history. Fans are courteous and knowledgeable as well. As has become the trend in all sports venues the last few years, space to meet as a group while still viewing the game is very much in play at Levi’s Stadium. This makes for a more inclusive atmosphere and freedom to roam while enjoying the game.
Parking at Levi’s Stadium is $50 and just to the west of the stadium. The congestion in the area is worse than what you find at most venues and being that it shares a parking lot with a major amusement park adds to the challenge. The light rail for $2.50 each way seems like the way to go. It is convenient, clean, and hassle-free. Even after the game, when you see the steel stanchions which snake around at long lengths, the wait is not too long.
Throughout the stadium, restrooms are plentiful and there is plenty of space to roam, even though the main level seemed excessively difficult to move around before the game and at half time. I get that is when it is most crowded, but when you are standing still at multiple points around the stadium on multiple occasions, it leaves an impression.
Return on Investment 3
In a word, steep, but you can do things to reduce the expense. Parking is $50, but I like light rail at $5 for a round trip. Regular draft beer is $10 and food prices are high but you can choose not to consume at the game.
TEAM MUSEUM – don’t miss this. At $15 for adult admission, the series of exhibits detailing the 70-year team history is on par with the game’s museum in Canton, Ohio. Allow two hours and try to visit on a non-game day, perhaps the day before or after a game. There is too much to do on game day, but this is a must visit. GAME PROGRAM – of the many things which are top-tier, the program is one of the best in football, dedicated to the game at hand instead of being combined for a two-game publication. At $10, it is a little steep but produced well.
RADIO – Play-by-play can be heard with just a few seconds of delay at KNBR 680 and KSAN 107.7. The signal is strong.
TEAM STORE AND MERCHANDISE – the main team store is at the north end and has all of anything you could want. There are smaller, satellite locations on all levels, but in the interest of time, consider just hitting the main, right near the north end of the complex.
ART COLLECTION – featured throughout the stadium with local artists represented, this new trend at stadiums adds a softer touch to beautifying the venue while adding to the branding of the host team.
Although it is among the game’s most expensive venues to witness an NFL game, you pretty much get what you pay for during a visit. You’ll pay $200 for a single ticket on the secondary market, or at least very close to it; the opponent has little to do with the price. Skip the $50 parking fee and take light rail to the game for just $5 round trip. Eat somewhere before arriving at the game, even in downtown nearby San Jose or get a little nourishment at the Faithful Mile. There are ways to do it without breaking the bank.
Food and Drink Recommendations
Bourbon Steak & Pub
4900 Marie P DeBartolo Way
Santa Clara, CA 95054
Hyatt Regency Santa Clara
5101 Great America Pkwy
Santa Clara, CA 95054
Santa Clara Marriott
2700 Mission College Blvd
Santa Clara, CA 95054
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