Levi's Stadium

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Levi's Stadium
The Field of Jeans[1]
Levi's Stadium Logo.png
Entering Levi's Stadium.JPG
Levi's Stadium on August 2, 2014, hosting its first soccer match featuring the San Jose Earthquakes and the Seattle Sounders.
Location 4900 Marie P DeBartolo Way,
Santa Clara, California[2]
Coordinates 37°24′11″N 121°58′12″W / 37.403°N 121.970°W / 37.403; -121.970Coordinates: 37°24′11″N 121°58′12″W / 37.403°N 121.970°W / 37.403; -121.970
Public transit Santa Clara VTA Great America
AmtrakAltamont Corridor Express Santa Clara – Great America
Owner The York Family
Operator Santa Clara Stadium Authority
Executive suites 176
Capacity 68,500[3] (expandable to 75,000)
Surface Tifway[4][5]
Construction
Broke ground April 19, 2012[6]
Opened July 17, 2014[6]
Construction cost $1.3 billion (est)[6]
Architect HNTB
Project manager Hatheway Consulting LLC.[7]
Structural engineer Magnusson Klemencic Associates[8]
Services engineer M–E Engineers, Inc.[9]
General contractor Turner/Devcon JV[10][11]
Tenants
San Francisco 49ers (NFL) (2014–)
Pac-12 Football Championship Game (2014–)
Website
levisstadium.com
Levi's Stadium from a tower at California's Great America theme park.

Levi's Stadium is a football stadium in Santa Clara, California which serves as the current home of the San Francisco 49ers of the National Football League.

In 2006, the 49ers initially proposed constructing a new stadium at Candlestick Point in San Francisco, the site of their now-former home, Candlestick Park. The project, which included plans for retail space and housing improvements, was considered to have been of great potential benefit to the nearby historically blighted neighborhood of Hunters Point. After negotiations with the city of San Francisco fell through, the 49ers focused their attention on a site adjacent to their administrative offices and training facility in Santa Clara, a South Bay city adjacent to San Jose.

In June 2010, Santa Clara voters approved a measure authorizing the city government to lease land to the 49ers Stadium Authority to construct a new football stadium. The necessary funds were secured in December 2011, allowing construction to start in April 2012.[6] Levi's Stadium opened on July 17, 2014.[6]

Levi's Stadium is scheduled to host Super Bowl 50 on February 7, 2016,[12][13] The 2015 NHL Stadium Series featuring the Los Angeles Kings and the San Jose Sharks on February 21, 2015, and WrestleMania 31 on March 29, 2015,[14] and will be the new permanent home of college football's annual San Francisco Bowl.[15] Levi's Stadium will also serve as the site of the Pacific-12 Football Championship Game for at least three years, beginning in 2014. Previously the game was played at the home stadium of the division winner with the better record entering the game.[16][17]

Stadium design[edit]

The stadium was designed by HNTB, an internationally renowned architectural firm, with a focus on creating a multi-purpose venue and with the fan experience and green technology as top priorities. Civil engineering work was performed by Winzler & Kelly, which was acquired by GHD Group in 2011.

Basic stadium features[edit]

Levi's Stadium is designed as an open stadium with a natural grass field. It has a seating capacity of 68,500, expandable to approximately 75,000 to host major events like WrestleMania, the Super Bowl and the FIFA World Cup. The seating design of the stadium places approximately two‐thirds of the fans in the lower bowl, which is one of the largest of its kind in the entire NFL. The design features significantly improved accessibility and seating options for fans with special needs and disabilities when compared to Candlestick Park. The configuration is similar to Ford Field, home of the NFL's Detroit Lions, with the majority of the luxury suites on one side of the field, which puts the fans in the upper deck closer to the action.

As a multi-use facility, the stadium can be configured for special touring events including concerts, motocross events, and other community events. The stadium is also designed to meet the FIFA field geometry requirements for international soccer, which will allow it to host international friendly matches and major tournaments such as the FIFA World Cup. The stadium will also feature over 109,000 square feet (10,100 m2) of flexible premium meeting space in the club areas.[18]

Environmental sustainability[edit]

Stadium proponents and those who expect to profit from the construction of the stadium claim that the stadium is currently one of the largest buildings registered with the U.S. Green Building Council. It is also believed to be the first stadium that will have both a green roof and solar panels. The 49ers are exploring collaborative opportunities with the Environmental Protection Agency to explore environmentally friendly components including:[18]

  • Use of an outside commissioning agent to verify that energy‐related systems are installed, calibrated and performing in compliance with the project requirements;
  • Utilization of public transit nearby including VTA, ACE, Amtrak, with connection to a proposed future BART extension;
  • Construction of a green roof (27,000± sf), and photovoltaic panels (20,000± sf);
  • Use of paving materials, and roofing materials with a high solar reflectance index;
  • Use of recycled water for landscape irrigation, toilets and urinals along with water‐conserving fixtures;
  • No use of CFC‐based refrigerants in the HVAC systems. Systems will instead use refrigerants that minimize compounds that contribute to ozone depletion;
  • Installation of permanent monitoring systems that provide feedback on ventilation system performance;
  • Diversion, recycling and/or salvaging 75% of non‐hazardous construction waste; and
  • Use of controllable and programmable lighting control systems and thermal comfort control systems.

Transportation[edit]

Public transit[edit]

Stadium patrons have the option of riding the VTA Light Rail to the stadium. The closest light rail station is the Great America station just west of the station in the median of Tasman Drive.

To the east, other transit options include the Amtrak and ACE station (near California's Great America and the Lick Mill station operated by VTA).

Nearby transit stations[edit]
Station name Agency name
Great America VTA Light Rail
Santa Clara - Great America ACE
Santa Clara - Great America Amtrak

Vehicular access[edit]

The stadium sits on Tasman Drive, a major east-west arterial road which connects to Interstate 880 several miles to the east. Both west and east of the stadium, Tasman intersects with various north-south arterial roads which connect to the region's most important freeways, such as U.S. Route 101, California State Route 237, and Interstate 280. The closest and most important of those north-south roads is Great America Parkway to the west of the stadium, which is named after the theme park to the south.

Naming rights[edit]

On May 8, 2013, the 49ers announced that San Francisco-based Levi Strauss & Co. purchased the naming rights to the new stadium. The deal calls for Levi's to pay $220.3 million to the city of Santa Clara and the 49ers over 20 years, with an option to extend the deal for another five years for around $75 million.[19]

Previous plans[edit]

The San Francisco 49ers played at Candlestick Park from 1971-2013. The stadium was a sentimental fan favorite and housed all 5 Super Bowl Championship teams. It was, however, the oldest unrenovated stadium in the NFL and was beginning to show its age.

The 49ers pursued a new stadium since 1997, when a plan for a stadium and a mall at Candlestick Point passed a public vote. When the plans failed to move forward, the San Francisco 49ers presented an alternative plan on July 18, 2006, to construct a new 68,500-seat, open air stadium as part of a mixed use development featuring housing, commercial and retail space. In November 2006 the team announced that plans for a new stadium at Candlestick Point was not feasible, “citing extensive costs for infrastructure, parking accommodations and other changes that would cost more than the stadium itself”.[20] The 49ers turned their focus to making Santa Clara the home to their new stadium.

The 1997 plan[edit]

San Francisco voters in 1997 approved $100 million in city spending to build a new stadium and an attached shopping mall at Candlestick Point. However, even after voter approval to grant economic help for the project, the stadium was not constructed. This was because owner Eddie DeBartolo, Jr. was facing legal troubles, which led him to surrender ownership of the team to his sister Denise DeBartolo York and brother-in-law John York. Mills Corporation, the company chosen by the 49ers, was unable to put together a plan to successfully construct a new stadium for the team.[21] NFL owners had gone as far as awarding the new stadium the rights to host Super Bowl XXXVII. When stadium plans stalled, the game went to Qualcomm Stadium instead.

For years, the city and team ownership were embattled over attempts to gain funding and a green-light for construction of a new stadium. None of these attempts proved to be successful.[citation needed]

The 2006 plan[edit]

The city of San Francisco received a new incentive to get a new stadium built. Mayor Gavin Newsom wanted to bring the 2016 Summer Olympics to the city, and a new stadium would sweeten the city's proposal for selection by the United States Olympic Committee as the official US submission to the IOC. The announcement came in November 2006, with the new 49ers stadium as the centerpiece of an Olympics bid, and the construction of the Olympic village would be converted into low-income housing after the games were over.[22]

The new 68,500-seat stadium was to be built at Candlestick Point on land just southeast of Candlestick Park. The cost of the stadium would be $916 million. Lennar Corporation would build housing, retail, and office space around the stadium area.[21] Originally, part of the area surrounding Candlestick Park was to be zoned for retail space and housing; the new 49ers stadium was to be combined with such elements, bringing much-needed attractions to the historically blighted neighborhood of Hunters Point.[23]

The stadium would be stocked with 150 luxury suites, 7,500 premium club seats, and an increased amount of seats lower and closer to the field, called "bowl seating," potentially raising the 49ers franchise value up as much as $250 million and offering at least $300 million in advertising and concession deals, the majority of which from paid corporate naming.[24] The architectural design would be reminiscent of San Francisco buildings.

The project planning did not get off to a good start, however, with contention between the 49ers and the city of San Francisco over viable locations for the new stadium. Initially, the idea was to build a stadium in the parking lot of Candlestick Park and later demolish the aging stadium. Team ownership feared that construction of the village and the stadium would severely limit the amount of land available in Candlestick Point, creating a parking problem for fans and increasing traffic along the roads that link the stadium to the freeway. Moreover, with residents in the low-income housing by 2016, traffic would be permanently increased, further damaging the already-limited methods of transportation to the park.[25]

With San Francisco slow to come up with better locations for the stadium or ways to circumvent the problems posed by a construction at Candlestick Point, team owners Denise DeBartolo York and John York announced on November 9, 2006, that the 49ers were shifting their efforts to create a new stadium to the city of Santa Clara, home to the team offices and training facility since 1987, approximately 40 miles (64 km) south of San Francisco.

The sudden removal of the planned stadium forced the San Francisco Olympics bid group to cancel its proposal,[26] which engendered great anger not only from Mayor Newsom, but also from such 49ers legends as Joe Montana and Ronnie Lott, who were part of the effort to bring the Olympics to the Bay Area. In addition, many fans were outraged at the suggestion to move the 49ers out of the city that it had shared history with for decades. The Yorks insisted that the legacy of the franchise would be respected in the sense that the 49ers would not be renamed nor moved out of the Bay Area. This was met with much opposition from Mayor Newsom and Senator Dianne Feinstein (who was mayor of San Francisco between 1978 and 1988); the senator stated that the team should be unable to use the San Francisco name if its operations were not based in the city.[27] On January 3, 2007, California State Senator Carole Migden introduced a bill, entitled SB49, that would bar the 49ers from building a new stadium within a 100-mile (160 km) radius of San Francisco, if they were to leave the city. The 49ers organization announced its strong opposition to the legislation and retorted that passing such a bill would only encourage the team to move out of the Bay Area altogether.[28]

Santa Clara city council negotiations[edit]

The Santa Clara stadium project has been in the works since 2007, with negotiations beginning in 2008. Two years have produced the following documents that were key to understanding the stadium deal that went before the voters of Santa Clara on June 8, 2010. All documents cited below are publicly available on the City of Santa Clara’s website.

  • Term Sheet: Detailed agreement between the city of Santa Clara and the San Francisco 49ers about the financing, construction, operation, and eventual demolition of the stadium. Key points include: no new or increased city taxes or costs to residents; 49ers responsible for construction and operation cost overruns; and the city will continue to own the land and receive rent payments back to its general fund from the stadium.[29]
  • 49ers Stadium Proposal: A PowerPoint presentation given to the City of Santa Clara April 24, 2007.[30]
  • Study: Economic and Fiscal Impacts of a New State-of-the-Art Stadium in Santa Clara4: This is a study conducted by Conventions Sports and Leisure (CSL). It highlights estimates of a new stadium’s economic and fiscal impact on the City of Santa Clara and the region including the creation of new jobs and new economic activity.[31]
  • Environmental Impact Report: This document is part of the state-mandated California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) process. It researches in depth all possible environmental impacts the stadium may have.[32]

Most city council members in Santa Clara were extremely receptive to the possibility of a new stadium being constructed there for the 49ers. In 2009, the Santa Clara City Council, led by Mayor Patricia Mahan, along with city employees began negotiating in earnest with the team, who presented the city with stadium plans. On June 2, 2009, by a 5 to 2 vote, the Santa Clara city council agreed to preliminary terms (as detailed in a term sheet[33]). The official term sheet states that the team's name will not change; the team will continue to be called the San Francisco 49ers even when the move to Santa Clara is complete.[34][35]

The campaign[edit]

Santa Clara stadium campaign[edit]

The Santa Clara stadium was constructed on a city-owned parking lot on Tasman Drive, located adjacent to the north of California's Great America theme park and leased to Great America for overflow parking. As with Candlestick Park, there are relatively few amenities in the stadium's immediate vicinity for sports fans, besides the 49ers headquarters and training facility. The Santa Clara Convention Center is northwest of the stadium site and there are two hotels on Tasman Drive next to the convention center, but the closest significant concentration of hotels and restaurants is on the Mission College Boulevard corridor almost a mile to the south, on the other side of Great America.

In December 2009, the owner of the theme park filed a lawsuit to stop the project from proceeding.[36] However, the lawsuit was dismissed in court.

On December 15, 2009, the Santa Clara City Council voted 5 to 2 to withdraw their city-sponsored ballot measure on the stadium issue in favor of a ballot initiative, Measure J.[37] The ballot initiative was voted on on June 8, 2010 and passed by 58% of Santa Clara voters.[38][39] Santa Clara City Council members William Kennedy and Jamie McLeod had opposed the stadium project and worked (unsuccessfully) to get Measure J defeated.[40]

Measure J: June 8, 2010[edit]

Measure J is a binding, voter-initiated measure that was approved by voters in the City of Santa Clara. All documents cited below are publicly available on the City of Santa Clara’s official website.

  • Ballot Question: This is the question that was presented to voters:[41]
    • Shall the City of Santa Clara adopt Ordinance 17.20 leasing City property for a professional football stadium and other events; no use of City General or Enterprise funds for construction; no new taxes for residents for stadium; Redevelopment Agency funds capped for construction; private party pays all construction cost overruns; no City/Agency obligation for stadium operating/maintenance; private party payment of projected fair market rent; and additional funds for senior/youth/library/recreation to City’s General Fund?
  • Voter Ordinance: This city ordinance becomes law if Santa Clara voters approve Measure J.[42]

Election results[edit]

Measure J (June 8, 2010)[43]
Choice Votes  %
Referendum passed Yes 14,782 58.2
No 10,505 41.8
Total votes 25,133 100.00

Oakland Raiders as possible co-tenants[edit]

There was a possibility that the 49ers' Bay Area rivals, the Oakland Raiders, might share the stadium, allowing its costs to be split between the two teams.[44] The 49ers[44] and Raiders[45] have publicly said it would be an option if possible, while NFL commissioner Roger Goodell is strongly in favor of the two sharing a stadium.[46] Fans of both teams reacted negatively to the idea. Along with the New York metropolitan area (where the New York Giants and New York Jets shared Giants Stadium from 1984–2009 and currently share its successor, MetLife Stadium, which both teams financed), the Bay Area is one of two NFL markets with two teams.

The 49ers and Raiders sharing a stadium would not be unprecedented, as the two shared Kezar Stadium for part of 1960.[47] It would also fulfill the late Raiders owner Al Davis' elusive goal of a new stadium, something he had strongly desired since moving the team from Los Angeles back to Oakland in 1995.[48] The Raiders, as it stands, play at O.co Coliseum and are the only NFL team still sharing its home field with a Major League Baseball team; the Raiders' lease on the Coliseum expires after the 2014 season.[49]

In the wake of Davis' death, the possibility of the 49ers and Raiders sharing the stadium became a stronger possibility, as the Raiders would be more receptive to the idea. However, by October 2011, the 49ers were far enough along on the stadium to have reportedly already sold over a quarter of the luxury suites, meaning the Raiders would be forced to be secondary tenants.[50] In October 2012, Oakland Raiders owner Mark Davis told reporters he had no plans to share the Santa Clara stadium with the 49ers. According to the report, discussions have remained open, although Davis wants to keep the team in Oakland, or a nearby site in Dublin, California.[51]

When the stadium had its grand opening on July 17, 2014, Goodell mentioned to the live crowd that it would make a great home for the Raiders and that it is up for the team to decide whether or not it wants to play there or build a stadium on the site of the O.co Coliseum. While the 49ers remain open to sharing the stadium with the Raiders, the Raiders have said that their personal preference would be the Coliseum site.[52]

Financing and construction[edit]

In December 2011, the Santa Clara City Council voted for an agreement that calls for the city’s Stadium Authority to borrow $850,000,000 from Goldman Sachs, Bank of America and U.S. Bank. This will cover most of the construction costs, with the remainder to be made up via funding from the NFL, a hotel tax and city redevelopment funds. Interest, fees and terms for this loan have not been disclosed.[53][54] The $850,000,000 building loan, plus interest and fees will be assumed by the City's Stadium Authority, where additional interest and fees will be applied. On February 2, 2012, NFL owners approved a loan to the 49ers of $200,000,000, for use in constructing the new stadium, and to be taken from a new G-4 stadium loan fund.[55] Terms of the loan were not specified, but under the previous G-3 plan, money was repaid directly into the league's account from the borrowing team's share of gate receipts from road games.

Construction[edit]

Levi's Stadium under construction, July 11, 2013

Construction began soon after funding for the stadium had been confirmed. The official groundbreaking took place on April 19, 2012.[6] On July 30, 2012, the first steel beams for the stadium were laid down.[56] The first seats in Levi's Stadium were installed on October 1, 2013.

Construction was halted on June 11, 2013, after a mechanic working on an elevator was struck by a counterweight and then fell down the shaft to his death.[57] Work resumed two days later after officials from the California Occupational Safety and Health Administration (Cal/OSHA) declared the site safe, but as of October 2013, the accident remained under investigation.[58][59]

Opening[edit]

The stadium opened on July 17, 2014.[60] It was originally scheduled to open on July 11, but was pushed back due to construction delays. The first game played at the new stadium was a Major League Soccer match on August 2, 2014, where the San Jose Earthquakes defeated the Seattle Sounders FC 1–0 before a crowd of 48,765. The inaugural goal was scored in the 42nd minute by Yannick Djalo.[61]

On August 17, 2014 the 49ers lost their first preseason game, 34–0, against the Denver Broncos at Levi's Stadium. Incidentally, one fan at the game collapsed due to the heat and had to be rushed to a local hospital, where he died.[62]

The first 49ers' regular-season game at the stadium was held during Week 2 on September 14, 2014, when the team hosted the Chicago Bears on Sunday Night Football.[63] The Bears won the game 28–20[64] in front of a 49ers home record attendance of 70,799.[65]

Weekdays and parking[edit]

In November 2013, stadium and 49ers' officials initially requested the NFL to not schedule any Monday or Thursday night home games during Levi's Stadium's inaugural season due to parking issues in the area surrounding the stadium during weekdays.[66] Two months later, in January 2014, the Santa Clara city government was able to secure more than the 21,000 necessary parking spots by approving use of the fairways at the city-owned Santa Clara Golf and Tennis Club (which is located to the north of the stadium across Tasman Drive). This arrangement is similar to and was modeled upon a longstanding arrangement between the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, California and the adjacent Brookside Golf Course, where the golf course was modified to allow for vehicular access to the fairways, they are used for parking only when dry to minimize damage, and any damage that does occur is repaired afterward.

With access to the golf course fairways, Levi's Stadium now had 31,600 potential parking spaces, meaning that tailgating and weeknight games were now a possibility. However, the NFL decided not to schedule any weeknight home games at Levi's Stadium in 2014 until traffic flow within the area is figured out, with the exception of a Thanksgiving game between the 49ers and Seattle Seahawks on November 27, 2014. Parking prices, which averaged $30 in the 49ers' final season at Candlestick Park, will increase to $40 at Levi's Stadium.[67]

Anticipating significant traffic from Levi's Stadium visitors, the nearby city of Mountain View instituted a three-hour parking limit on downtown streets during game days. While residents received exemptions via permit tags, stadium-goers must park in paid lots or far from Mountain View's Caltrain/VTA light rail station. This station is the closest VTA light rail station to San Francisco and receives transferring passengers heading south to San Jose via light rail (including people using the light rail to go directly to the Levi's Stadium station).[68]

Other events[edit]

Super Bowl 50[edit]

On October 16, 2012, it was announced that Levi's Stadium was one of two finalists to host Super Bowl 50 on February 7, 2016 (the other stadium finalist being Sun Life Stadium in Miami Gardens, Florida).[69][70] On May 21, 2013, it was announced that the San Francisco Bay Area had defeated South Florida in a vote of NFL owners in its bid to host Super Bowl 50.[71]

WrestleMania 31[edit]

Levi's Stadium will host WWE's WrestleMania 31 on March 29, 2015. This will mark the first time WrestleMania is hosted in Northern California. The area will also host activities throughout the region for the week-long celebration leading up to WrestleMania itself.[72]

Hockey[edit]

Levi's Stadium will host the 2015 NHL Stadium Series' February 21 game between the Los Angeles Kings and San Jose Sharks.[73]

Soccer[edit]

On July 31, 2014, the San Jose Earthquakes agreed to play one match per year for five years at Levi's Stadium.[74] On September 6, 2014, an international friendly between Mexico and Chile was held.[75]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

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External links[edit]

Events and tenants
Preceded by
Candlestick Park
1971 – 2013
Home of the San Francisco 49ers
2014 – Future
Succeeded by
None
Preceded by
University of Phoenix Stadium
Host of
Super Bowl 50

2016
Succeeded by
NRG Stadium
Preceded by
AT&T Park
Home of the San Francisco Bowl
2014– Future
Succeeded by
none