The San Francisco 49ers will open up Levi's Stadium on August 2, with the San Jose Earthquakes hosting Seattle Sounders FC. They will follow that with a pair of preseason games, some high school football, and then the regular season opener against the Chicago Bears on September 14.
The team is trying to create an all-encompassing opportunity for fans to have a good time at the stadium. The most notable aspect of this is the development of a stadium phone app that will allow people to watch all sorts of replays, order food, figure out which bathroom has the shortest line, and potentially even find their car in the parking lot. Technology is a major factor in the stadium, particularly with the chance for everybody at the game to conceivably have strong access to aa wireless network.
Beyond just the technology though, the team is figuring out ways to add some extras that will attract fans, and still put some money in the team's pockets. We'll be going over a few of these over the course of the offseason, but one of the more notable was just announced. In conjunction with their neighbor, Great America, the 49ers will offer a pre-game tailgate in the parking lot.
People can still tailgate on their own, but they will also have an opportunity to purchase the Red Zone Rally tailgate package. It is a season-long package that runs $850 per person. That includes all the food you can eat, and all the beverages you can drink. I'm waiting to hear back on the full menu, but the beverages will include beer and wine, and the food is expected to be more than just burgers and hot dogs. Fans can come in starting at 10 a.m. and watch the early games. Additionally, the Flight Deck roller coaster will be open for people to ride as much as they want. Although, I can't imagine you'll want to ride it much after you've eaten and drank all you can.
If you are so inclined, you can purchase it HERE.
Like a few of the other packages, my guess is this kind of deal ends up being utilized more by corporate season ticket holders than regular individuals. Given that the 49ers expect to sell 1,500-2,000 of these (per Mike Rosenberg), I imagine we'll see some regular season ticket holders buying the package. It comes down to $85 per game if you go to all ten home games (2 preseason, 8 regular season). That's not cheap, particularly since you'd probably be buying 2 or 4 packages. There is some talk of selling it on an individual game basis, but if they sell it out with the season package, that won't be an option.
Any time a new stadium opens, there will be a variety of ways to monetize it. If the 49ers sell 2,000 of these Red Zone Rally packages, that's $1.7 million that will be split between the 49ers and Great America. Given that this is a $1.3 billion stadium, that's not crazy money. But given that the 49ers will have a sizable mortgage to pay in the coming years, it's no surprise they'll find new ways to make some money.
Levi's Stadium has priced out some fans. It's not fair, but that's life. And really it's not as much about Levi's Stadium as it is about football in general. The NFL has a price structure for most teams that is just not something a lot of people can afford. At some point maybe we see the bubble burst, but the popularity of the league has allowed them to continue to put up some crazy prices. It's a crazy expensive sport, and prices probably are not going down anytime soon.
We see a lot of people watching from home because they don't want to spend ridiculous amounts of money, but they are also frequently getting a better experience at home. The 49ers are trying to boost the experience with the stadium app. It's an uphill battle against a lot of middle class fans, but when you are selling your new stadium out, the concern is not quite as big.
One issue raised by some fans is whether or not the new stadium will result in a more corporate atmosphere that is a little less hostile toward the opposing team. The notion being that we could see the homefield advantage take a hit with "a bunch of suits" in the stands. I do think there will be a certain corporate element to the stadium, but it appears a sizable chunk of Candlestick Park season ticket holders are making the move down.
And while those corporate fans will include some people occasionally going that probably don't much care for football, there will be plenty of fired up fans in those luxury suites, and in the other crazy expensive seats. Sure they might not have made the normal trek to Candlestick, and that will make some of them bandwagon fans. But as long as it's a raucous environment, I'm not overly concerned about that.
The notion of "bandwagon" fans can be annoying. I get that. When someone has been a fan for years and years, it is easy to get annoyed by someone who is just joining on because there is a fancy new stadium, and the team is good. You could see that to some extent when the GIants moved into AT&T Park. And yet, there were always passionate fans on hand. It still could turn into a great atmosphere for a ballpark (Full disclosure: i'm an A's fan). Aside from how the team actually performs in the new stadium, I am really curious to see how the environment is on a week-to-week basis. Will we see a loud and crazy atmosphere? Or will it be a bit more of a sterile environment? I expect somewhere in the middle, but we'll see. I'm going to check with season ticket holders on a week-to-week basis to get their thoughts on how the crowd is at Levi's Stadium.