49ers Blog and Q&A

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

May 15, 2014
As stadium nears completion, 49ers hoping for green and gold


If you've been watching the 49ers' live stadium feed and wondering why the new grass gets a regular dousing while you are showing every third day due to California's drought, there's a reason. The stadium uses recycled -- or "gray"-- water, which is something you definitely don't want to use for your baths. The type of grass used, Bermuda Bandera, also requires up to 50 percent less water than other types used in the Bay Area.

I wrote about the green-i-ness of the new stadium a couple of years ago, and the team still is gunning for a LEED gold (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) status. The Ravens have the only other sports venue in the United States with a LEED gold rating. (Jim Harbaugh is always playing second fiddle to his older brother).

Recycled water is one of the ways they hope to achieve that mark. Another is with solar panels, which will sit atop the three bridges that lead to the stadium as well as the roof of the tower suite. The team expects that the power generated from those panels will offset the power used in the 10 NFL games played there each year.

Some observations of a tour of the facility on Thursday:

* The team's spacious locker room is nearly complete, and it provides a noticeable home-field advantage. The ceilings are 18- to 20-feet high, whereas the visitor's locker room's are 10-feet high. The lockers are made of walnut, which is built into the ceiling as well. The visitor's space is painted a dark gray. The 49ers' locker room is roomy even now despite temporary lockers for the 90-man offseason locker. It will have 64 lockers when the regular season begins. The 49ers are not yet ready to move into their new digs, but it will serve as the team's primary locker room - for practices, offseason, etc. - once the stadium is complete.

* The venue was designed to bring the fans as close to the action as possible. I estimate there is only 15 or so feet from the back of the end zone to the first row of seats. That might make a go-route touchdown at the end line a bit precarious, especially if there is a row of photographers back there. The coziness of the field is the reason why Levi's Stadium can't host a World Cup Soccer match, which calls for a wider field. But it will provide a more intimate setting for fans. The ones in the first few rows will have no problem reading the message Stevie Johnson has written on his undershirt.

* As soon as the 49ers put up the new goal posts, they had to take them down. That's because the league passed a new rule to extend the posts by an additional five feet. The updated posts are in and the field itself - it looks fantastic and it doesn't smell like brine and decomposing mackerel, which is what wafted from the Candlestick Park turf on certain high tides.

* The tour was set up as part of the announcement that Levi's Stadium would host for the next three years the Pac-12 Championship game. Given the overlap between 49ers fans and Pac-12 followers, the team thinks it will have no problem selling out the championship game. The first game will be held on Friday night and will be broadcast by Fox. The next year it switches to ESPN and will be a Saturday game. The next year it's back to Friday and Fox. Team President Paraag Marathe said parking for the Friday evening games should not be a problem and that the team has secured 25,000 spaces within walking distance.

* Joe Montana, who is part of a group building a hotel across from the stadium, told The Santa Clara Weekly that he didn't anticipate any long-term issues over the nearly 800 parking spaces displaced by the facility. "We have every reason to believe that this issue will be successfully resolved in the very near future," Montana said.

* The first pro game at the stadium is Aug. 2, an MLS soccer match between San Jose and Seattle. Owner Jed York said the stadium should be complete about a month before that game. Some of the 49ers staffers - those that work on the stadium - already have moved into the building.

-- 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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