July 18, 2014 in Sports

Forty-niners open swanky new stadium

$1.2 billion building filled with amenities
Antonio Gonzalez Associated Press
 
Associated Press photo

A 49ers staff member unpacks a large pair of scissors to be used in a photo booth before ribbon-cutting and opening of Levi’s Stadium.
(Full-size photo)

SANTA CLARA, Calif. – San Francisco 49ers CEO Jed York got a little teary on his drive to Levi’s Stadium on Thursday. His voice cracked while talking about taking his young son to games at the stadium for years to come.

Others had a different reaction upon walking into the building: Wow!

With confetti streaming down under a blue sky, the 49ers officially opened the $1.2 billion stadium in Santa Clara with a ribbon-cutting ceremony.

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh, linebacker Patrick Willis and left tackle Joe Staley joined York and others on stage to cut the ribbons.

The stadium’s opening put one of the NFL’s flagship franchises on firm footing and planted the country’s most popular sports league in technology-rich Silicon Valley for the first time.

Goodell called it a milestone for the league. He also added a twist to the ceremony by addressing the looming stadium issue just up the road in Oakland, where the Raiders have long been searching for a replacement to the outdated Coliseum.

Goodell said it’s 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 – an idea York has never dismissed.

Raiders owner Mark Davis has said 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 San Francisco greats.

The 49ers’ new home, which is the first LEED Gold Certified stadium in the NFL for its environmentally friendly design, will hold about 68,500 fans and has the ability to expand to 75,000 for Super Bowl 50 in February 2016. The facility features 165 luxury suites, 9,000 club seats and even a green roof-top deck that includes solar panels and harvested herbs for on-site food preparation.

Free Wi-Fi will be available at the stadium, and a smartphone application will allow fans to have food delivered to any seat and check waiting lines at concession stands and bathrooms.

“The stadium reflects the greatness of the region, the technology and the innovation,” Goodell said.

49ers re-sign Staley

The 49ers have signed left tackle Joe Staley to a two-year contract extension through the 2019 season.

He has earned Pro Bowl honors the past three seasons and is primarily responsible for protecting QB Colin Kaepernick’s blindside.

General manager Trent Baalke says the extension means the 29-year-old Staley “will likely be a 49er for life.”

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