by Carlos E. Castañeda

SANTA CLARA (CBS SF) — San Francisco’s first major league sports franchise will play its home opener in another city for the first time in 68 years, as the 49ers inaugurate the team’s new home in Santa Clara Sunday.

The $1.3 billion Levi’s Stadium, along with its state-of-the-art technology and environmentally friendly features, will be showcased during a nationally-televised Sunday night game against the Chicago Bears.

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The 49ers played 43 seasons at Candlestick Park (1971 – 2013), following 25 seasons at Kezar Stadium beginning with the start of the franchise in 1946.

Levi’s Stadium has had mixed reviews from a handful of trial runs leading up to the prime-time debut, starting with a San Jose Earthquakes match, two 49ers preseason games and a Mexico-Chile soccer match.

There have been gripes about the evolving transportation network, parking access, traffic and lines to get into stadium. Other fans have complained of shortages at some of the concession stands.

The turf at Levi’s Stadium has been ripped up twice already, and while last Saturday’s soccer match saw some dry areas and visible seams it appeared to hold up.

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The 49ers tore out the turf following their first exhibition game and a public practice where players slipped on the grass.

49ers head coach Jim Harbaugh told reporters during a media briefing Friday the team would practice on the new turf on Saturday. “The reports are positive,” said Harbaugh.

A report by a sports marketing research firm last week indicated Levi’s Stadium is now the most expensive National Football League venue to take a family of four.

The average price for a game ticket on the resale market has reportedly dropped by hundreds of dollars in the last couple of weeks.

The 49ers encouraged ticket holders to be in their seats by 5:00 and promised in a press release an “epic pregame show and festivities beginning promptly at 5:01 p.m.”

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