Hi everybody! I was at a convention at the Santa Clara Convention Center this past weekend and I felt compelled to write up my thoughts of this area the 49ers are building their new stadium in.
I think it's a pretty universally accepted fact that Candlestick Park is a dump. Some people don't care and want us to play their anyway. However. there are advantages to Santa Clara that go way beyond restrooms and traffic congestion.
Driving around that area, I was struck by just how many food options there are. Within about a 5 minute drive of the stadium site there's Mcdonalds, In-n-Out, Togos, iHop, Round Table, Starbucks, Taco Bell, Carls Jr, Little Caesars, and MORE! So if you want a bite to eat before or after the game there are plenty of options for you to do so.
But that's only the food outside the stadium. Jed York mentioned how he wanted our new stadium to be famous for being environmentally friendly, being very technologically advanced, and having fantastic food. If you've been to Candlestick Park you know the food options are pretty "meh". Nothing wrong with typical ballpark food of course, but do you really want to pay $7 for a simple hot dog? That got to me to thinking about the difference between the old and new Stanford football stadiums. In the old Stanford stadium the food wasn't that great. But in the new one they have a whole huge middle concourse dedicated to great food options. I haven't been there recently enough to list what all they have, but it goes way beyond typical ball park food.
There's still more to it though. What about folks with food allergies? If you go to Candlestick and you're allergic to things like wheat then you're pretty much screwed. But the SF Giants have a whole stand dedicated to allergen-free food including hot dogs with delicious, fluffy gluten-free buns! As someone who can't eat gluten, I would really, really love to see some options for me at the new stadium. Food allergens are becoming more and more common, and we actually don't mind the high price for stadium food because gluten-free food is expensive everywhere.
What ways can technology be incorporated into the new stadium. Most people think about stuff like instant video review right from your smartphone. But there are so many more possibilities.
Think about ordering your food right from your seat and getting a notification when it's ready to be picked up. Think about an app that tells you how long the line for each restroom is.
Think about a stadium with powerful enough cell/wifi technology that you can actually text or browse the internet at the stadium. (I remember last year during the Monday Night blackout that nobody knew what was going on because everyone was trying to use their phones at the same time and there wasn't enough bandwidth to handle it.)
Everybody knows that traffic is a nightmare at Candlestick. That's just a fact. I also think most people accept that Santa Clara will be better. But you don't really appreciate how much better until you've actually been there. This site is right in the middle of an area that includes a country club, a major theme park, tons of tech companies (including Yahoo), Mission College, a large mall, and one of the best convention centers in the country. This whole area has been built accordingly. The streets are huge (3 wide lanes and a bike lane each way on Great America Parkway), traffic signals change quickly, there are lots of nice side streets so you don't get bottled into one area, there's light rail RIGHT THERE, good bus service, two freeways an even distance on either side, and other major roads like El Camino and Central Expressway.
Parking is EVERYWHERE! There is more than enough parking to handle an NFL game. Best of all, that parking isn't confined to one place. It's all up and down Great America Parkway. More than that, the tech companies will probably let you park in their lots on Sundays so there will be even more options. The new garage that is going up across from the stadium is MASSIVE! Very impressive sight. I understand tail-gaters won't want to park there, but for everybody else it will be great.
Something else to consider is that the San Tomas Aquino Creek Trail goes right past the stadium. So if you feel like riding your bike to the game you do so safely and easily (and Santa Clara County in general is extremely bicycle friendly anyway).
Also, Downtown Sunnyvale is not that far away. There you can find a nice little downtown with some good food and shopping, but more importantly a nice Caltrain Station and a major bus stop where like 8 different major bus routes converge.
Candlestick is a dump. Yes, we know that. But more than that the whole area around is a dump. It's serious ghetto territory. The Great America area on the other hand is fantastic. Clean, well lit, good police force, nice landscaping, just all around a good vibe.
As I mentioned earlier, there is a mall nearby. There you can find a large movie theatre, In-N-Out, Starbucks, and some shopping. But there are also lots of other shopping/food opportunities nearby.
The whole area is dotted with hotels: Embassy Suites, The Plaza Suites, Residence Inn, Marriott, Biltmore, Hilton, Hyatt, etc. Visiting fans can easily walk to the stadium and thus won't add to the traffic (but should add a neat game-day vibe!).
I mentioned the country club, the college, the theme park, and the movie theatre. There's also a bmx track, soccer fields, a couple of parks, and some wonderful trails/parks along the part of the Bay right there.
Also, don't overlook the fact that the San Jose Airport is right nearby, and Santana Row, Downtown San Jose, HP Pavilion, and the proposed stadiums for the Earthquakes and As are all just a hop, skip, and a jump away.
Combine all of this with Apple, Facebook, HP, Yahoo, other tech companies, top notch shopping, live entertainment, and outdoors activities and this area is really becoming relevant. This is the kind of place that can host Super Bowls over and over again.
I'll probably fill in some more thoughts on this later, including how similar the Niners Stadium design is the Stanford Stadium (if you want to hear how the noise will be, go to a Stanford game). Given how crazy my life has been lately though, I don't know if I'd ever get back to this so I'll go ahead and publish it for now.