NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell on Thursday said that it is "up to the Raiders to decide whether they want to try to build a stadium in Oakland or share the facility at Levi's Stadium with the 49ers," according to Antonio Gonzalez of the AP. Raiders Owner Mark Davis has said that he "doesn't want to be a renter in the 49ers' facility, which is now fitted with red seats and posters of past and present" 49ers greats (AP, 7/17). Goodell said of the Raiders, "They have to make that determination, whether they're in a new stadium in Oakland or whether they feel that it's best to join this stadium. We're working on that, and that's one of the decisions they'll have to make." ESPN.com, noted the Raiders are in the final year of their lease at O.co Coliseum and "are interested in building a new stadium at the site." If the Raiders and 49ers were to share Levi's Stadium, they would "become the second pair of NFL teams to share a home," joining the Jets and Giants, who both play at MetLife Stadium (ESPN.com, 7/17). In San Jose, Tim Kawakami notes the NFL has "always wanted the Raiders, lacking other options, to move into Levi's at least temporarily." That prospect was "an assumed part" of the $200M loan package from the NFL "to get the building started, and it's part of the term sheet with the city of Santa Clara." Kawakami: "I'm not saying the NFL will ever demand that the Raiders and 49ers agree to split Levi's." But realistically, the 49ers "must always seriously consider any potential second team at the stadium -- though the 49ers would have No. 1 priority no matter what" (SAN JOSE MERCURY NEWS, 7/18).
GOLD RUSH: In San Jose, Mike Rosenberg notes the 49ers on Thursday officially opened Levi's Stadium with a "showstopping ceremony." In typical NFL tradition, the ribbon-cutting ceremony "had all the pageantry of the April 2012 groundbreaking event, which also felt like a Super Bowl half-time show." After 49ers CEO Jed York and Santa Clara Mayor Jamie Matthews "officially cut the long red ribbon outside the south entrance," thousands of white, red and gold pieces of confetti "burst into the air." The ceremony marked the "opening of the first new NFL stadium in California" since '67 in San Diego. Despite the ceremony, there "is still work left to be done before the first event" -- an Aug. 2 Earthquakes match -- and also before the 49ers "take the field afterward for their first preseason game Aug. 17, and the first regular-season game Sept. 14." A 49ers museum and HOF area and the new Michael Mina restaurant "are both unfinished" (SAN JOSE MERCURY NEWS, 7/18). Also in San Jose, Mark Purdy in a front-page piece notes while some "work remains to be done on the stadium," if the 49ers "needed to play there this weekend, they could." Throughout the stadium there "are nifty little touches that jump out, such as the concourse around the lower deck with concessions and restrooms being 63 feet from side to side, more than three times wider than the Candlestick Park concourses." There also is an "express lane" outer concourse "dedicated solely to walking the stadium perimeter, for people who want to reach the opposite side without fighting cross-traffic from fans in line for food or toilets." And there are "the big touches that blow you away, such as that 'far beyond different' rooftop hospitality area high amidst the stadium light towers that features an eco-garden and amazing views" (SAN JOSE MERCURY NEWS, 7/18).
IS BIGGER BETTER? In S.F., Ann Killion notes Levi's Stadium is "an enormous $1.2 billion structure of steel and concrete and corporate branding." It is "full of wow factors, most notably two overwhelming HD video boards at either end of the stadium, the most notable parts of the building's profile." But there is "a reason that NFL stadiums are not known for their charm." It is "not the same as the romantic journey baseball fans make to the nation's ballparks." NFL stadiums "are big, impersonal, infrequently used and tend to be the same, depending on what era they were built in." Levi's Stadium "doesn't offer anything to make it the NFL's equivalent of AT&T Park" (S.F. CHRONICLE, 7/18).