SANTA CLARA -- Seattle has its curved roof that protects 70 percent of the fans from the rain. The 49ers will have a glass-fronted suite tower that dominates one side of Levi’s Stadium.
The Seahawks’ home stadium is the most difficult place for visiting teams to play in the NFL due to the architecture of the building and an enthused fan base that makes verbal communication nearly impossible for opposing offenses.
The 49ers expect Levi’s Stadium to be a louder venue than Candlestick Park, the team’s former home. How loud? Nobody will know until fans start filling the red seats that continue to be installed in the 68,500-capacity structure that is currently 80-percent complete.
Construction on Levi’s Stadium, which stands just feet away from the edge of the 49ers’ team offices and practice facility in Santa Clara, is on schedule to be finished in late-July. The first event is scheduled to be an Aug. 2 soccer match. The San Jose Earthquakes will play host to the Seattle Sounders.
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Team president Paraag Marathe said during a media tour on Wednesday that crowd noise was a factor when designing Levi’s Stadium. An NFL-high 45,000 seats are located in the lower bowl with the first row of seats approximately 10 feet off the playing surface.
Marathe said the “small footprint” of the stadium means fans will be closer to the action and their voices will be heard louder. Also, the suite tower on the west side of the stadium has just 35 rows of lower-level seats in front of it. With most of the fans located on the east side, the sound from behind the visiting sideline is expected to hit the suite tower and reverberate back to the playing field.
However, Levi’s Stadium is not fully enclosed. There are openings at both ends of the stadium, which will allow some of the crowd noise to escape.
Al Guido, the 49ers’ chief operating officer, said the stadium was designed to accommodate different sports and events, including musical performances.
“What might be good for football might not be good for a concert,” Guido said. “We all want a home-field advantage, and it’s interesting that coach (Jim Harbaugh) talked about how loud our crowd was during some of the playoff games at Candlestick Park.
“It’ll be louder than Candlestick. But until we get a crowd in there for a game, I don’t think we'll have any idea how loud it’ll be.”
Guido said the large video boards will provide content pieces to help prompt the fans. Unlike a typical day at the construction site, the noise will be entirely manmade. Mineta San Jose International Airport is located approximately three miles from the stadium. Noise from planes overheard can be disruptive at the team’s practice facility. But there will likely be temporary flight restrictions in place during games to reroute flights in and out of the airport to avoid flyovers.
The 49ers will play host to two exhibition games at Levi’s Stadium before the season opener is scheduled for the weekend of Sept. 4-8. The 49ers expect to be on the road to open the regular season with their first home game the following weekend.