Last weekend I left the Midwest, taking a plane with my father from Chicago to San Francisco so I could witness a great victory by the 49ers over the Eagles. The trip started with a long delay, leading to our rental car place being closed when we arrived in town. Ultimately we got a car and arrived to our hotel after 4 AM Sunday. Despite lack of sleep on the trip, it was one hell of a good time. We went everywhere from downtown San Francisco, to Marin Headlands, to Palo Alto, to Oakland, and to Santa Clara. The experience at Levi's is one I won't forget, so without further adieu I share my experience with you.
Transportation to Levi's
We decided to drive to Santa Clara and see if we could find any cheap parking, we could not. Even parking far away cost a total of $40, and that certainly isn't worth it when you have to walk a ways once you park. Ultimately we drove to a light rail destination, parked for five bucks, and took the light rail to the stadium. The light rail is smooth and was packed with 49ers fans. It didn't take too long to get there, and it is by far the most affordable and efficient way to get to Levi's and to get the heck out of there. Hustle to the light rail after the game if you're taking it back north to San Francisco though, because there was a huge line even a half hour after the game.
Getting around outside of the Stadium
Walking from one side of the stadium to the other when you're outside of Levi's isn't smooth. Currently, walking from one gate area to the other, a fan must walk on a road, it's impossible to just walk around the stadium outside to get from point A to point B. Many of the workers were confused as to where certain areas were located. I was on my way to media will-call when a worker directed me in the exact opposite direction of where I needed to be, leading to a long walk that wasn't needed. It wasn't just myself confused, on my walk I could hear countless others voicing confusion and frustration because they didn't know exactly where to go. There should be more guest service booths set up outside, and a free shuttle from one side of the stadium to the other because it's a long walk around that road.
The food at Levi's appears to be top notch. A lot of different options are available to satisfy people of different tastes or dietary needs. I settled for a hot dog and a souvenir soda, which cost $13.50 for the two items. The lines at the concession stand are currently like sitting in a traffic jam. I was in line for over twenty minutes and was in line when the 49ers punt was blocked for a touchdown. By the time I arrived to my seat it was 7-0.
I talked to a season ticket holder in line and he said the wait was just was bad the previous week. This is something that will be improved on, but currently the transactions are taking too long. I would recommend getting in line at least a half hour before the game to be safe. I hate missing even a down during the game, but I needed that Sierra Mist on such a hot and sunny day.
View From the Field
Thanks to Fooch, I was able to get on the field before the game. I was able to see the 49ers go through warm ups up close and personal, and it was a very cool experience. Just being able to touch the field the players do battle on was an honor. The view was tremendous from down there on a beautiful blue sky day. I felt like I was in a coliseum when I looked up, the stadium seemed mammoth.
I had a lower corner seat about 20 rows back, and the view was great. The sight-lines looked good even for the "nosebleed" seats compared to some other venues I've been to. All the signs and screens around the stadium make for a nice experience sitting in your seat. Plenty of things to look at, and the jumbo-tron was high quality and fun to look at.
The noise was hit and miss, and that's due in large part to a lot of the fans not being in their seats. A lot of empty seats could be seen in the third and fourth quarter of a very good and close game. Many fans decided to ditch the seats for the concourse lounge areas, where you can still get a view of the game, but are far enough away for your voice to not be heard. I didn't feel it was tremendously loud until the Eagles got into the redzone at the end of the game, where the 49ers had an amazing goal line stand. Besides that, I felt the crowd could have been louder (I've been to a lot of NFL stadiums).
Also, the fans were way too loud at times when the offense was on the field at times. The drive where Kaepernick threw a touchdown to Stevie Johnson, the end zone crowd was entirely too loud, which made it hard for Kap and the offense to get through their motions and snap the ball. There's no reason fans should be that loud when the offense is at work, and they need to put something on the jumbo-tron to remind fans the offense is at work!
Conclusion and Photos
I recommend everyone, if money and time allows, to get down to Santa Clara and see the 49ers in action. It's a way better experience at Levi's than at Candlestick. The old ballpark may have had mystique, but is was rundown, it was time for a change. It's time to build more memories at a new stadium and embrace the change. This is a new era of 49ers football and it's refreshing it has a new stadium to go with it. I'll always be able to say I attended the first 49ers victory at Levi's Stadium, and that's pretty damn cool.