SANTA CLARA (KPIX 5) — While the term ‘ballpark’ normally refers to baseball stadiums with the open, intimate feel of days gone by, you could call Levi’s Stadium the flagship of a new generation of ballparks built just for football.
If your 49ers memories are wrapped in the concrete confines of Candlestick Park – get ready for something completely different. “I think fans coming from Candlestick will really appreciate the amount of space that we’ve got here,” said Project Executive Jack Hill.
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Back in the 60’s, cities across America raced to build multi-purpose stadiums that could host football and baseball. So-called cookie-cutter facilities such as Philadelphia’s Veteran’s Stadium, Three Rivers Stadium in Pittsburgh, Riverfront Stadium in Cincinnati, the Oakland Coliseum, and Candlestick Park – after its football retrofit in 1970.
But just as soon as those buildings were finished, it was clear that to host both football and baseball there had to be some sacrifices. Seating was less than optimum for each sport, the sight lines were bad, and if you wanted a bite to eat, you had to walk away from the game into a concrete tunnel.
Compare that to a modern ballpark like AT&T, which allows you to see the field even as you’re grabbing a hot dog. You’re going to notice that same wide-open feel when you walk the concourse in Santa Clara.
“Just the openness, the airiness…. fans can go and get whatever they want to eat or drink, and you can turn around and look out into the bowl,” Hill explained.
One by one the multi-purpose stadiums of the past have been wiped off the American landscape. The last dinosaur stands in Oakland, with O.co Coliseum the only multi-purpose stadium serving both an MLB team and an NFL team.
With new architecture comes new possibilities. Since the late 80’s, baseball has given us a handful of “retro-parks” – beloved fields like Camden Yard and AT&T. And now, we’re seeing a new generation of stadiums built just for football. The 49ers think they’ve done it better than anybody.
“We always said: ‘We’re not going be the largest or the flashiest, or the brightest. We’re going to build a great football stadium and we’re going to be the smartest,'” Hill said. “That’s what you see here.'”
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