For as many events and even preseason games that we have seen occur at Levi's Stadium over the last couple of months, tonight is the real deal. Tonight is the real opening of the stadium. As such, the 49ers-Bears game becomes one of those quirky games in NFL history that adds to statistics lists about NFL stadium openers. Fortunately for us, Can Inman has compiled the list for us to gander at while we wait for the early NFL games to start today. You can find it here.
I don't think this is the type of thing from which we should draw sweeping conclusions. Or plain conclusions. There simply isn't enough connective tissue between teams opening up new stadiums to make, say, the overall record of home teams in stadium openings relevant (20-29, for the record). We really can't assume - with certainty - if there are anything in those games that would suggest a losing home record.
So, let's try to guess! I bring this up because last year, in the last game at Candlestick, I had a weird obsession with the 49ers winning. It wasn't just the fact that I wanted the 49ers to win; I really wanted to honor the place and all its history before we moved out to what some might perceive as a glitzy stadium too far removed from San Francisco. It just made sense to do Candlestick right and send her off with a victory.
And now, that weird desire for a win has returned. I really care about this game against the Bears because I really want to anoint Levi's Stadium with a win. As such, my brain has been playing all these weird games in which I try to guess why the 49ers might lose that has nothing to do with the Bears.
So, if I had to guess as to why the home team in stadium openers lose more often than not, I think I would settle on field conditions. We've seen recently how difficult it is to get field conditions properly done. The process, while quick, is difficult. And though I don't understand it, it appears as if settling that occurs even after the field has been laid can upset a good job by those who laid it. Though home-field advantage entails more than just knowing intimately the field conditions of your stadium (we should know this better than most: see man, the twelfth), that is one advantage that teams do have. To know one's field plays a huge role in playing at an elite level.
But, of course, there are many counters to this logic. The most notable, I think, being the fact that the Bears don't have a familiarity with the field, putting this proposition at best in a 50-50 range.
But, what sort of expectations are you holding about the new stadium today? I figured this could be a good thread just to talk about the new stadium, even if you are not oddly obsessed with previous NFL stadium openings like I am. What excites you about the new stadium? Do you have things that worry you? And, if you would like to play this game, what reasons might you think up for why stadium opening teams don't fare so well in their games?