49ers Blog and Q&A

News, notes and reader questions about the San Francisco 49ers

August 3, 2011
Niners stadium design is "open" for change

It's going to be hard for the 49ers, or any team for that matter, to overtake Jerry Jones' colossalplex in Arlington, Texas for the title of top NFL stadium. And the Bidwills' stadium in Glendale, Arizona is hard to top, too.


But if it gets built, the 49ers have a very good shot at the title of best open-aired stadium in the league. Open is the operative word. After watching a brief design presentation this morning, it's clear that the overarching design idea - from wide plazas to solar panels to a green, rooftop terrace -- is to take advantage of the South Bay's sunshine-heavy weather.

"It's never going to be a dark place or a contained space," said HNTB architect Fernando Vazquez. "It's going to be open, open."

The event definitely was better suited for television and still cameras, but here are the things that caught my eye.

• At one point, the team wanted to build the facility on the larger of the two Great America parking lots. However, they are now committed to the smaller parking lot. That means the stadium would eliminate Centennial Drive, which is where the team's practice facility is now located, and would actually be attached to the practice facility.

• The team is trying to make the stadium a year-round venue. The architects today said today that one idea is to allow the suites and perhaps the rooftop terrace to be rented out for wedding receptions. (Good luck selling your fiancée on that, fellas).

• COO Paraag Marathe mentioned two specific elements, a "Fantasy Football Lounge" and a quarterbacks hall of fame. The hall-of-fame plans are well underway, and the team has started collecting memorabilia.

• Another overarching theme is to make the building as technologically current as possible. The physical design will allow for the installation of 2015 technology even though construction is scheduled to begin in 2013.

• The press box will be at the tippity top of the suite tower on the west side of the stadium. (No one consulted me on that).

• Taking a page from Lucas Oil Field, which has a huge poster of Peyton Manning on its side, the new stadium also would be draped with pictures of hall of famers. Steve Young, Joe Montana, Ronnie Lott and ... Patrick Willis all were featured on the side of the scale model. (That's going to be awkward when he's traded to Philadelphia for Asante Samuel. And, YES, that's a joke, Twitter Nation.)

-- Matt Barrows


Matt was born in Blacksburg, Va., and attended the University of Virginia. He graduated in 1995, went to Northwestern for a journalism degree a year later, and got his first job at a South Carolina daily in 1997. He joined The Bee as a Metro reporter in 1999 and started covering the 49ers in 2003. His favorite player of all time is Darrell Green.


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