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SANTA CLARA (KPIX 5) — The stadium is built, the ribbon-cutting is history, the trial runs are done, and now Levi’s Stadium is set for its first official sporting event Saturday evening.
More than 40,000 people are expected at the new home of the San Francisco 49ers for a soccer game between the San Jose Earthquakes and Seattle Sounders FC.
There are some concerns with the transportation plan and with tomorrow’s first true test for traffic and parking at Levi’s Stadium.
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Planners say they have done everything that can be done at this point to get people to and from the stadium. Still, once all the fans arrive Santa Clara officials say it will still be possible to make changes to the plan in real time.
Fans are also thinking ahead, including Hayward resident Jeff Auerbach, who took a trip on VTA light rail just to see how he was going to get to and from the game tomorrow.
“This is the recon phase,” said Auerbach. “We have got to figure out where we are going to eat, and how long it is going to take us, and how convenient public transportation is going to be.”
Planners expect up to 25 percent of fans on typical football game days to take public transit. Caltrain is offering extra service from San Francisco and the Peninsula and VTA is also offering extra light rail and bus service.
Stadium officials say they are also ready for the vast majority of fans who will be driving in.
“I think we feel really good, we have got 34 digital signs – changeable signs – that can be tweaked and manipulated throughout the event,” said 49ers spokesman Bob Lange.
The 49ers say the stadium has a traffic management center inside the stadium, although all the traffic cameras outside will not be up and running.
Stadium officials say the real key to successful transit is the Levi’s Stadium website and mobile app.
“You have arrows pointing directly to your lot … you can either pre-purchase parking when you buy your ticket … or you can even buy it on the way to the stadium,” said Lange.
Once you do the app will tell your smartphone the custom directions to get to your assigned lot to minimize logjams.
As far as inside the stadium, many items were getting an 11th hour check. That includes the sound coming out of the stadium’s massive speakers built into the south scoreboard video screen.
The 49ers said there are some things that still won’t be finished by game time tomorrow night, such as the Michael Mina restaurant and the 49ers museum, but almost everything else a fan would see is ready to go.
The kitchen staff is already busy prepping food for about 45,000 hungry mouths, including 22, 000 hot dogs alone – known at Levi’s Stadium as ‘frankfurters.’
With about 10,000 pounds of food and about 2,000 beer kegs, Levi’s Stadium is one of the biggest food and beverage warehouses in the South Bay.
“We’re prepared to provide our fans with an ultimate experience,” said Lange. “And we are learning. Every event we do, we’ll learn how to better incorporate that into providing the best experience we can.”
“I’m very excited,” Levi’s Stadium chef Ryan Stone. “Tomorrow we’ll have 350 cooks and chefs doing various dishes throughout the building.”
The rest of the work today was planning for crowd management; scores of metal detectors, and steel barricades to manage lines went into place.
Then there’s the field. The goal nets are up and the lines are painted for soccer. The scoreboard is plugged in and set to display its first points and video highlights.
Levi’s Stadium’s first scoring play may come off the foot of Bay Area native Chris Wondolowski, who worked out with the rest of his Earthquakes teammates for the first time Friday on the stadium grass.
“I want to get the first win here,” said Wondolowski.”If we get some chances we’ve got to finish them off.”