SANTA CLARA (KPIX) — As the San Francisco 49ers played their season home opener Sunday without fans for the first time, the Faithful learned to adapt and support their team outside Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara.
“It’s kind of a bummer that we’re not able to go watch the games live,” said 49ers fan Anthony Macias.
The 49ers hosted the Arizona Cardinals despite the unhealthy air quality caused by wildfires burning across the state. Some fans braved the smoke and sat outside SmokeEaters, just a few miles away from the stadium, to watch the game.
“It’s different, it’s weird,” said fan Emanuel Lara. “I drove by the stadium today — nothing but smoke.”
More than two weeks ago, the Niners opted to play the season opener without fans and told the Faithful they’d continue to communicate with Santa Clara county health leaders about the possibility of hosting people sometime this season.
The parking lot at Levi’s Stadium, normally packed with cars and tailgaters before the game, sat empty. Nearby roads typically seen with bumper-to-bumper traffic were also nearly empty.
Stadium employees and security guards were staged at the parking lots to keep fans from gathering or sneaking onto the property.
“It’s odd, you know, missing that feeling, that tailgating, that start of the season,” Lara said. “So it’s been different.”
“It would’ve been nice to go to a game this year but we all got to be safe, we all got to be smart about what’s going on,” said Niners fan Jeremy Morgan.
Last season, the 49ers became the NFC Champions but lost the Super Bowl to the Kansas City Chiefs.
“Just come out there and be as close to the stadium as I can be,” said Lara. “Trying to get back to that Super Bowl or bust!”