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Levi's Stadium design layout, requirements led to eastern sun issue

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Levi's Stadium will cap off its second season with Super Bowl 50 on Sunday afternoon. It has been an up and down couple of years for the San Francisco 49ers stadium, with some amazing features, but also some problematic issues. One of the more notable issues has been the sun that shines on the eastern side of the stadium.

Earlier this week, I had a chance to speak with the chief design principal for the stadium (Tim Cahill) and the principal project manager for the stadium (Lanson Nichols). The stadium is in the spotlight, so the designers have been getting some publicity over the course of Super Bowl week.

I was most specifically curious about the issue of the sun, and why the stadium was designed that way. It turns out, football stadiums are frequently built on a north/south axis, or a little to the west of north/south. This is due to the camera angles required for a television broadcast. And so, when you don't have any kind of roof, one portion of the stadium will be in the sun for an extensive period of time.

The 49ers did not include a roof over that side of the stadium because they wanted to keep a theme of "connectivity" prominently included. Obviously the wifi keeps fans connected, but the idea was also that you would have great views beyond the stadium from just about wherever you sat. When you walk around the concourse, you have some kind of view. When you're sitting in the seating bowl, there is the opportunity for some kind of view. And so, there will not be any sort of partial roof at this point over the sunny side.

It should not be a huge issue on Sunday at Super Bowl 50. The weather is expected to be near perfect, with a high of 70 degrees for the 3:35 p.m. PT kickoff. The sun will be out for most of the game, but will drop behind the suite tower late in the game. By the time the Lombardi Trophy is handed out around 7pm, I suspect it will be getting pretty dark. The temperature is expected to drop into the low 60s or high 50s by this time.

It will be interesting to see how warm the 70 degrees feels on the east side of the stadium. It will be important to remain hydrated and have sunscreen. For 49ers games, we frequently see a lot of those mid-field seats abandoned for stretches of time. It will be interesting to see what the Super Bowl brings.