Levi’s Stadium – San Francisco 49ers
Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 3.87
Levi’s Stadium 4900 Marie P DeBartolo Way Santa Clara, CA 95054
Year Opened: 2014 Capacity: 68,500
The Field of Jeans
The San Francisco 49ers have been one of the most storied franchises in the NFL. The team was founded in 1946 and joined the NFL in 1950, becoming the first NFL team on the West Coast and the first top level sports franchise in the San Francisco area. The team has won five Super Bowls and six NFC Championships. It has also sent seventeen members of the 49er’s teams on to the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
The team’s original home was the old Kezar Stadium, followed by Candlestick Park. After a wide variety of new stadium options in San Francisco failed to be approved, the team decided to relocate the new stadium in Santa Clara, California, where it held its preseason camps and already had administrative offices. In 2014, Levi’s Stadium hosted its first NFL game.
Levi’s Stadium has a capacity of 68,500 but can be expanded to 75,000 for major events like the Super Bowl or the World Cup. Its unique design allows 60% of the fans to be seated in the lower bowl of the stadium and closer to the action. Most of these seats are in the end zones and on the east side of the stadium. The west side of the stadium is predominantly made up of 8,500 club seats and 165 luxury boxes. The west side of the stadium is in the shade for most of the game, while the east side of the stands is looking into the sun. The fans in the east side stands have been dubbed as the Zinni Zone, as the Zinni Company provides sunglasses to fans before the game.
Food & Beverage 3
Unlike most NFL stadiums, Levi’s Stadium does allow food to be brought into the venue. The food must be in a clear plastic container and be of the same proportions as any other carry in objects as dictated by the NFL. All beverages must be in a sealed clear plastic container as well.
There are more than enough concession stands at each level of the concourse, so you should not encounter long lines. Once you see the prices at the stands you will understand why. Most stands offer the stadium standards including nachos ($13), hot dogs ($10), hamburgers ($12), pizza slice ($13), popcorn ($7.50), BBQ sandwiches ($16) and candy, along with bottled water ($7), Pepsi brand sodas ($7) and lemonade ($8). Some of the more regional dishes available at the stadium are crab sandwiches ($18), curry bowls and organic chicken sandwiches ($18). Beers go for $12 for a domestic brand or $15 for a premium brand.
Levi’s concession stands are standardized in appearance, and carry names like BBQ Sauced, Blue Line Pizza, Micheladas, Links, Franks, Starbird Chicken, Super Duper and Sandi’s Cobbler Cups. On the positive side, each of the stands are positioned with an open view to the field of play. One of the best viewing points for concessions are in the Bud Light Party Zones in each end zone. They offer a stunning overview of the entire field of play from the upper decks.
Obviously, Levi’s Stadium has not adopted the popular fan friendly pricing model now being used in many NFL markets. We suggest you bring a meal with you or eat prior to the game and use the stadium concessions for your beverage and snack needs.
The atmosphere at Levi’s Stadium is quite different from its predecessor, Candlestick Park. It provides the latest in technology, with 38 escalators and 25 glass elevators. The stadium also has the latest innovations in video broadcasting, as it has an HD video board at each end of the field with screens measuring 200’ X 48’. The stadium also offers wi-fi and closed captioning for those who need it. The 49ers game app is one of the most informative we’ve found in the NFL. The stadium construction also includes a very wide (63 foot) concourse, allowing easy movement to concessions and restrooms.
One major drawback to the stadium’s design is in its layout in relationship to the sun. Unlike San Francisco, Santa Clara experiences hot and sunny days up through mid-season. This results in fans in the east stands having to deal with the sun in their eyes for most of the game. Make sure you bring your shades if you are seated in the eastern side of the stadium. By the way, Levi’s does offer free sunscreen for fans upon request.
The first thing we need to point out is that the team’s name is somewhat misleading. The neighborhood around Levi’s Stadium is Santa Clara, California, a city 40 miles south of San Francisco. It is in the heart of Silicon Valley, with many of the largest technology companies calling Santa Clara home.
The immediate area around Levi’s Stadium is predominantly centered around the convention industry. As a result, there are several major hotels, including the Hilton Santa Clara and the Santa Clara Marriott that are within walking distance of the stadium. California’s Great American Park, an amusement park, is also adjacent to the stadium. It typically closes during the fall but hosts a pregame Red Zone Rally before every 49ers home game.
Since you are in the middle of Silicon Valley, a trip to the nearby Intel Museum will provide you with a look at how microchips changed the technology industry. The Fish Market tops our recommendations of top restaurants in the area to check out.
The move from the Bay Area to Santa Clara has resulted in quite a few changes in the fan base. Season tickets now require a Personal Seat License, an expensive proposition for many of the blue-collar fans who attended games at Candlestick. In addition, the average ticket price for 49ers games is among the highest in the NFL. The 40-mile drive on California highways has also caused a change in the makeup of the crowds.
The local fan base has become more corporate in nature, as the Santa Clara area is quite affluent and work for some of the top technology companies in the country. The stadium caters to them through multiple clubs and social spaces on the western side of the stadium. The more blue-collar, longtime fans of the club make their way down from the Bay Area and fill the end zone and the eastern side of the stadium.
What has not been lost in the move to Santa Clara is the intense enthusiasm and loyalty to the team. 49ers fans are known as “The Faithful” for good reason. They are extremely loud throughout the game and have stuck with the team through thick and thin. The stands are filled by a sea of red jerseys on game days. Coach Kyle Shanahan has brought winning football back to the Bay area, resulting in sellout crowds despite being 40 miles from its namesake home.
Getting to the 49ers games has become more daunting for San Francisco area fans of the team. The 40 miles separating San Francisco and Santa Clara can be daunting drive, as traveling on the 101 Freeway on game weekends can back up for miles. Once at the game fans are faced with a distant parking lot system and much higher parking fees than they have been used to. Fortunately, there are several options in getting to Levi’s Stadium on Sundays.
The state of California has one of the more efficient rail transportation systems in the country. This is especially true for cities in the greater Bay Area and Northern California. Fans from the Stockton area can utilize the ACE train that links with the local VTA light rail system in San Jose, which delivers you to Santa Clara. Sacramento fans can access the games by riding the Capitol Corridor train to San Jose and then to the VTA system. Finally, San Francisco area fans can take Caltrain to San Jose at a cost of $28.50 for a combo ticket with the VTA fare included.
Locals can use the Valley Transportation Authority (VTA) busses and light rail system, which will let you off and pick you up at the Great American Station directly in front of the stadium. You will need to purchase a $5 eight-hour pass at the beginning of your trip. Hold on to this ticket as there are no vending machines at the Great American Station for your return trip.
The most environmentally friendly option to arrive at the station is by walking or riding your bike to the game. The Santa Clara area is blessed to have a network of paved hike/bike trails. The San Tomas Aquino Trail runs directly to Levi’s Stadium. The stadium offers a bike valet service to safe-keep your bike during the game.
Once at the stadium, access is excellent. There is a wide assortment of entry points into the venue and the inside concourse is 63 feet wide with plenty of space to maneuver through the crowds. The concourses are also open to the field, so you will not miss any of the action. There are plenty of elevators and escalators for fans with upper level seats.
Return on Investment 3
Attending a 49ers game may require you to bring your gold prospecting equipment along to pay the tab. The 49ers ticket prices are amongst the most expensive in the NFL at $117 per seat. Parking at the stadium runs $40 – $60 prepaid, with an additional $10 tacked on for game day purchases. Public transportation or using the nearby hike/bike trails can bring this cost down dramatically.
Concession prices at Levi’s Stadium are among the highest in the NFL. We encourage you to bring your meal in with you, or to eat before the game. Save your concession spending for candy, snacks and beverages.
Hotel costs on game day weekends run $200 a night. An easy option to lower this cost is to stay in nearby San Jose.
In addition to the 49ers home games, Levi’s Stadium also plays host to the Redbox Bowl, the PAC 12 Football Championship Game and numerous concerts. It has also served as the site of Super Bowl 50 (2016), the 2015 NHL Stadium Series game between the San Jose Sharks and the Los Angeles Kings, and the 2019 College Football Championship Game.
Levi’s Stadium is very technologically advanced and utilizes this in its quest to become one of the greenest stadiums in the NFL. It has earned Gold LEED certification through its recycling efforts, the use of solar panels for power, the green roof atop the luxury box tower which features 40 types of vegetation and its efforts to promote public transportation as a means of getting to the stadium.
The California’s Great American Park hosts a pregame package called the Red Zone Rally that starts three hours prior to kickoff. The package costs $85 and includes unlimited food and beverages, visits from the 49er’s cheerleaders and drumline, autograph sessions with former 49er greats and an appearance from Sourdough Sam, the 49ers mascot.
The 49ers Museum deserves its own extra. We’ve visited several team museums over the years, and the 49ers experience far surpasses the other stadiums. Being in Silicon Valley allows the museum to utilize cutting edge technology such as virtual reality, holograms and touch screens to tell about the history and success of the team. Included in the museum are the Super Bowl Gallery, the Team Spirit section, which covers the team’s traditions, the Bill Walsh Innovation Center and the 49ers Hall of Fame, which salutes 27 former 49ers with life size statues.
The museum is open during 49ers games, but to truly see all it has to offer it is best to visit on non-game days and spend an hour or two checking out all the exhibits. Admission is $15 for adults and $10 for seniors, Santa Clara residents and active military members
Levi’s Stadium is one of the most technologically advanced stadiums in the NFL. Its location in the heart of Silicon Valley is a major improvement over the 49ers former home at the weather challenged Candlestick Park. The team has seen a resurgence on the field in recent seasons, providing fans with an up-tempo offense that will fill the stands. The gold rush has returned!