SBD/August 4, 2014/Facilities

Soft Opening At Levi's Stadium Sees Venue Have Issues With Parking, Wi-Fi, Trains

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Levi's Stadium hosted 48,765 fans for Saturday's match
Saturday's Earthquakes-Sounders match was a "test run" for the new Levi's Stadium -- 15 days before the 49ers' first home preseason game against the Broncos -- and there are still "a lot of kinks that need to be worked out," according to Ann Killion of the S.F. CHRONICLE. Fans en route to the match faced "complete and total, Candlestick-esque stopped traffic," as it "took a full hour to go one mile." Fans who took the light rail told "horror stories about the trip from San Jose, one that should have taken 30 minutes and instead took over an hour." The "most technologically advanced stadium in the world" also had "plenty of glitches." The Wi-Fi "crashed in the press box ... and the TVs went out for a long stretch." Some ticket buyers who "had tried to use the Levi's Stadium phone app to buy parking passes before the game were unsuccessful." The sound system "was muddied and roundly panned." Will-call windows and security lines "were jammed before game time." Some security screening "was lax and some elevators weren't working." At least one women's bathroom "ran out of toilet paper." On the field, there was a "large ugly scar of dead grass through the south penalty box that was clearly visible on television." The MLS match was "a bumpy start when a stadium that has been promised to be both a place that will be easy to get to and incredibly technologically advanced ends up having those exact issues become the biggest opening night problems" (S.F. CHRONICLE, 8/3).

BEST YET TO COME: In San Jose, Mike Rosenberg writes the barbecue concessions stands "ran out of sauce" by halftime, and other vendors "had no hot dogs left." Some bathroom lines "snaked dozens deep while some of the automatic toilets that were meant to save water flushed continuously." The "most irritating issue was transportation," as a couple of parking lots were "turning away prepaid, reserved customers while one chaotic scene unfolded on a train that lost power." Still, it seemed that "most of the 48,765 in attendance had a fun time and either encountered no problems or were willing to overlook them." 49ers VP/Stadium Operations & Security Jim Mercurio said, "Is this what's to be expected to come? Absolutely not. Every single event, we will have an opportunity to get better, and we will review every aspect of every operation." Rosenberg notes the "most furious complaints came from the 8,300 Valley Transportation Authority light rail riders." Most "raved about the pregame transit, where they arrived in a spread-out fashion with minimal waits." But the postgame crush "was a different story, as it took up to 90 minutes for many just to get onto a train." However, the VTA is "set to finish building a 'pocket track' that will store extra postgame trains by the time the 49ers first hit the field in two weeks" (SAN JOSE MERCURY NEWS, 8/4). Also in San Jose, Daniel Brown wrote the gist of many instant reviews was that the stadium is a "great place" that "needs work." The trains "ran behind schedule, the ushers sometimes pointed people the wrong direction, the bag policy proved confusing, and the concession prices caused shock." One fan asked, "Are they paying for this place with beer?" But Brown wrote by the time fans made it to their seats, the "good outweighed the bad -- by a long shot." They "forgot the inconveniences in the splendor of the Bandera Bermuda turf grass" (SAN JOSE MERCURY NEWS, 8/3). 49ers CEO Jed York said while roaming the concourses before Saturday night's match, "It's a learning experience for everybody." Mercurio said, "We learned some lessons, and it was good. This was a perfect event for us to start off" (SAN JOSE MERCURY NEWS, 8/3).

PLEASED WITH EFFORT: Overall, the 49ers felt good about the rollout of multiple tech platforms at Levi’s Stadium. Team officials noted a Mexico-Chile soccer exhibition on Sept. 6 will provide the club with another opportunity to work the kinks out before the team's first NFL regular-season game eight days later. Officials also noted during the Sounders-Earthquakes match, Levi’s Stadium logged in 13,524 unique clients using the facility’s Wi-Fi network and bandwidth utilization exceeded 1 gigabits per second, believed to be the first time that has happened in a stadium setting. In addition, the stadium’s mobile app -- designed in-house -- was the top app used during the event, followed by Facebook and SpeedTest. All told, the Kezar access control system, another in-house tech solution, worked well with 43,000 fans scanning their own tickets to access the stadium (Don Muret, Staff Writer).

SKATING AWAY? YAHOO SPORTS' Harrison Mooney reported Ticketmaster might have leaked details for a future Levi's Stadium event, as fans for three hours "could purchase tickets ... to the 2015 Coors Light NHL Stadium Series, a Saturday, February 21 game" between the Kings and Sharks at the new venue. The link "was dead by noon" (SPORTS.YAHOO.com, 8/3).
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