SANTA CLARA – The first shovel was stuck in the ground – ceremonial as it might have been – on April 19, 2012.
After 819 days, there was another ceremony Thursday that marked the completion of Levi’s Stadium, the posh $1.2 billion new home of the San Francisco 49ers.
Team president Jed York, who spearheaded the effort to get the 49ers a new stadium, has officially accomplished his goal with a lot of help.
“It’s the first pro football stadium in California since the 1960s, so it’s a significant achievement for the people that worked so hard to make it happen,” NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said at the ribbon-cutting ceremony.
"There've been a lot of efforts to address the stadium issue for 49ers for decades, really. It takes a lot of creative thinking and it takes a lot of people pulling in the same direction. This was a creative idea. It was novel."
It’s also the first new stadium for the 49ers in franchise history.
Kezar Stadium was built 20 years before the 49ers entered the All-America Football Conference. And Candlestick Park was built for the San Francisco Giants before the 49ers moved away from Golden Gate Park in 1971.
The 49ers’ new home takes the NFL franchise 43 miles south from the center of San Francisco and into the heart of Silicon Valley.
“Obviously, leaving San Francisco is an emotional issue,” Goodell said. “But this is still the 49ers and this is still the Bay Area’s team.”
York said he promised San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee that any 49ers' Super Bowl victory parade will go down San Francisco's Market Street.
"No pressure guys," York said to players Joe Staley and Patrick Willis, who were in attendance, along with coach Jim Harbaugh to take part in the ceremony.
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There are 68,500 seats at Levi’s Stadium with room for at least another 1,500 in standing-room only tickets. The capacity will be increased to 75,000 with temporary seating for Super Bowl 50 in February 7, 2016.
The 49ers set out to build an innovative and smarter stadium to challenge the perception that it has become a more-attractive option to simply remain home and watch games on TV. No fan will be more than 10 feet away from a WiFi signal. Whereas Candlestick Park had 1,296 square feet of scoreboards, Levi’s Stadium is outfitted with 13,600 square feet of high-definition video capabilities.
All 49ers home games will be completely powered by year-round collection of solar energy. And recycled water will account for approximately 85 percent of all water usage at the stadium.
“What I find so tremendous about this stadium and what I think is usually the successful recipe for great facilities is when they reflect the communities that they’re a part of,” Goodell said. “And this does.
“The sustainability and the technology. Those are things so much a part of this community and the 49ers. And that’s why this is going to be a very successful venture.”