Levi’s Stadium: 10 biggest improvements over Candlestick

The San Francisco 49ers began their final season at Candlestick Park two weeks ago with a win over the Packers, but the team and fans are counting the days before making a move to their new stadium, Levi’s Stadium. That’s 283 days to be exact, according to the countdown clock at Levi’s Stadium. Much like AT&T Park was to San Francisco Giants fans when they left the Stick in 2000, the 49ers are hoping Levi’s Stadium is a welcome jolt for fans and the franchise.

Candlestick is the NFL’s third oldest stadium, but it’s not in the same class as baseball’s treasures, Wrigley Field and Fenway Park. Built in 1960 for the Giants and expanded for the 49ers in 1971, the cold, grey Stick is more like the prize in a McDonald’s Happy Meal. But for me, it was always a bummer when my mom threw away my Happy Meal prize.

I have decades of great memories from the Stick, even though I was dressed in every article of clothing I could carry with me to keep warm. The stadium itself was drab, but Joe Montana, Jerry Rice, Bill Walsh, Steve Young and countless others made it relevant.

Many fans have mixed emotions about the team’s departure from San Francisco to Santa Clara. Most are fixated on the 32 extra miles they’ll have to drive. Based on everything reported about Levi’s Stadium, the added commute will be well worth it.

With construction on Levi’s Stadium over halfway complete, here’s a list of the biggest improvements Levi’s Stadium will give the 49ers faithful:

Main concourse LevisOpen design – For those finding it difficult to let go of Candlestick Park, Levi’s Stadium’s spacious concourses may be the most refreshing aspect. Think about this – its 68,500 seats are slightly fewer seats than Candlestick, but Levi’s Stadium is twice the size. That’s a lot of extra room to stretch out and enjoy the stadium experience. Fans will be able to stroll the stadium and watch the game wherever they are when grabbing food in the main level concourse.

Connectivity – Older stadiums tend to have lousy cell or Wi-Fi coverage. Levi’s Stadium, located in the heart of Silicon Valley, will be wired to the hilt. Fans will enjoy stadium-wide Wi-Fi and mobile connectivity hotspots. The 49ers will even have an in-stadium app to allow fans to find the shortest beer, food and bathroom lines.

Video boards – Candlestick has one video scoreboard, and a large chunk of the stadium sits above that scoreboard. I sat in those seats too many days and had to forget about watching replays until I got home. Levi’s Stadium will have massive HD screens on both ends of the stadium, totaling over 13,000 square feet.

Field – National broadcasters have continually complained about Candlestick’s soggy field. The new grass field equipped with the latest drainage system will no doubt be a vast improvement. Levi’s is no multipurpose stadium either. It’s dedicated to the 49ers and cannot even accommodate a soccer match (concerts, yes).

Weather – Candlestick Point on San Francisco Bay is notoriously windy and the North Bay tends to get more fog. While fog is less of a problem during the NFL season, Santa Clara temperatures are on average 5 to 8 degrees warmer than San Francisco and it receives far less of the fog. Fans should be able to leave their parkas at home more often.

Hall of Fame – The new 49ers Hall of Fame built next to Levi’s Stadium will open at the same time to honor the greatest players, coaches, and moments in franchise history.

Tailgating – I’m not sure you can call this an improvement, but I wanted to reassure the 49er faithful there would be ample parking lot space to hold your wine and cheese-filled tailgate parties.

Fan Safety – Santa Clara has its share of crummy neighborhoods, but driving through Hunter’s Point near Candlestick day or night reminded me of driving in a Grand Theft Auto game. Fans should have a much easier and safer time getting to and from Levi’s.

Double Header – You can go to California’s Great America theme Park and a 49ers game in one day. Great America sits across the street from Great America.

What did I miss? Leave a comment below.

Check out the Levi’s Stadium live web cam.

Photos credit: San Francisco 49ers

About Fly Fish Rapport

Fly Fisherman. Dad. Non-fishing wife. Two objective kids. Time-constrained. Constructive liar. Writing, fly fishing-themed beers and sports ease my pain.

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