Levi’s Stadium is a 1.85 million square foot stadium located in Santa Clara, California (Rodriguez, 2015). This stadium can host about 68,500 fans, and it comprises 9,000 club seats, community space, 165 luxury suites, 49ers Hall of fame, open pedestrian plazas, and 49ers team store (Rodriguez, 2015). This stadium was purposely built for the San Francisco 49ers National Football League team. It can host many events, and examples include motocross, soccer, concerts, professional and college football and civic events. This stadium presents a great viewing experience, and so, the fans enjoy the amazing views of both the field and the surrounding Silicon Valley. This stadium has great design features such as a green roof, convenient parking for bicycles, an exceptional public transit access, walking path access, recycle materials, water conserving plumbing features, and so on. It also has live dashboards, which makes it possible for the fans to see the amount of energy used by the stadium. In addition to that, it is LEED Gold certified.
Levi’s Stadium was given the title of the ‘sports facility of the year’ by the 2015 Sports Business Awards (Rodriguez, 2015). This Stadium has attracted so much attention because it is one of a kind. This is why it has been chosen as the basis of the study. This paper seeks to understand the details of the Levi’s Stadium construction project. The paper will examine the environmental impact of having this stadium, especially with regards to traffic management and any restrictions placed on weekday games and so on, the finances that went into the project; and it will also compare the initial proposals against the existing plan.
Levi’s Stadium is now known as “the most technologically advanced stadium worldwide.” It qualifies to be among the most covered stadiums located in America.
The Environmental Impact of Levi’s Stadium
As people celebrate the construction of this amazing stadium, one thing that comes to mind is its environmental impact; and this is a concern that has been raised by many individuals. The Stadium has about 1,150 solar panels, a roof of approximately 27,000 square feet known as the “living roof” that is made up of native plants (Bunker & Cestone, 2014). In addition to that, the sinks and toilets located in the stadium use approximately 40% less the amount of water required by the California building codes; and thus, they are extremely efficient (Bunker & Cestone, 2014). All this gives one the impression that this stadium is very environmentally friendly. Furthermore, the 49ers are excited about their new stadium, and they have issued statements to the effect that they will endeavor to turn their stadium into a model of ecological efficiency. This should b able to put many people’s fears to rest. However, the environmental impact of this stadium will be investigated in more detail since there is speculation that all these might just be eco-hype. The executive overseeing this construction by the name of Jack Hill supports the team’s claims and says that they are really proud of the stadium and what they are saying is true.
Jack Hill continues saying that over 75% of the materials used in the construction are being recycled (Rogers, 2013). The team has plans of supplying food since there are light rail and various transits around the stadium. This food will mainly be produced locally. In addition to that, they plan on working further on the luxury suites by incorporating some sustainable bamboo woodwork in them. Even the field’s sprinklers use recycled water to spray the stadium.
There are critics who never supported the plan of constructing this stadium from the beginning, and they still have their reservations about it. A spokeswoman by the name of Deborah Bress from Santa Clara Plays Fair was of the opinion that the project was simply a publicity campaign. She represented one of the groups that were against the idea of constructing this stadium after it had been approved by voters in 2010. Although she praised them for putting the solar and green roof, she said that the stadium had a greater environmental impact than most people realized.
40% of the lighting used in the stadium consists of LED bulbs, and it intends to show that effort is made to ensure that the stadium is environmentally friendly (Rogers, 2013). There were even plans to make high-efficiency bulbs part of the large field lights, but it was cancelled when broadcasters said that it was not a good idea since this kind of technology could change the way the players’ uniforms color would be displayed on TV. Extremely efficient water-cooled air handlers, boilers, and water source heat pumps provide the heating and cooling systems in this stadium. There were two huge heat exchangers responsible for supplying these units with cooling water. There are other design efficiencies applied, and an example is the water-to-water heat pump that has the task of recycling the heat existing in the HVAC system and returning it to the domestic water system in the building.
After months of preparation and much anticipation, the Levi’s Stadium was finally opened and a match took place between the 49ers and the Chicago Bears. The fans came in crowds, especially those supporting 49ers, and they used whatever means of transport they could. Some came on foot, others by bikes, and yet others came by car, bus; and there were even those who hired people to pedal for them. People had anticipated terrible traffic; and so, they did their best to avoid it, and it worked. Some came early; others opted to walk, and so on. However, getting out of the stadium was a different matter altogether. Some people who came by car spent an hour in the parking lot due to traffic. Most of the drivers and passengers said they were disappointed by the lack of signage in addition to the fact that the officials were not available to direct people towards the exits. Some cars ended up going over the grass and almost hitting pedestrians walking on the sidewalk.
The craziness on the opening day was just the beginning as Levi’s Stadium faced a lot of complaints and protests, especially from the neighbors. The residents of Levi’s Stadium had a lot to say in 2014 concerning the traffic and noise which accompanied the construction of this stadium. It got to a point where a meeting was held at Don Callejon School in order to address these concerns. This meeting was attended by Jim Mercurio and Michael Sellers (Santa Clara police Chief), the vice president of the 49ers, the person in charge of the stadium operations and security, and about 100 people (Bunker & Vince, 2014). The meeting lasted almost two hours, and Mercurio made a statement to the effect that he might not be able to please everyone at the meeting or at the stadium.
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According to Bunker & Cestone (2014), residents of both Sunnyvale and Santa Clara attended the meeting, and many of them complained that they were made to feel like they were hostages in their own homes since they could not leave when games were going on due to traffic congestion. This was particularly with regard to foot and automobile traffic. They further said that this traffic could prevent one from getting quick medical attention if the need would arise. In addition to that, they wanted the bike trails located in close proximity to the stadium to be open for the public during games. They had previously been denied this because the police claimed that it was a homeland security issue.
Another thing that the residents complained about was the intensity with banner planes that flew over their homes during games. They went on saying that these planes were usually very noisy and the field lights were too intense. They wanted some adjustments to be made with regards to how far the planes were allowed to hover and if it was possible for them to fly in other places. Mercurio and Sellers noted down these concerns and promised to discuss them with the people in charge and then respond to the residents.
The San Francisco 49ers normally rely on the neighboring businesses to give them 21,000 parking spaces (deMause, 2013), and this worked fine when Levi’s Stadium hosted games on Sundays since most people did not work on this day of the week. However, they did not take into account what would happen if they were to host games on weekdays since these parking spaces would be packed with employees cars. That is why, they decided not to host any games on Monday and Thursday nights; they devised a better plan instead.
Financing the Construction of the Levi’s Stadium
A year after the Levi’s Stadium was opened, Santa Clara made their first financial report indicating the revenues received, their expectations, and the costs incurred. According to this report, the city got more than they had expected in terms of revenue. The costs were also lower, and they received additional funding of almost $3 million meant for the city operation (Rodriguez, 2015). When interviewed, the Mayor Jamie Matthews said that they received financial benefit beyond their most optimistic predictions. In addition to that, this report showed that the cost of overall construction decreased by about one and a half since the stadium was opened, and this was linked to revenues and cost savings (Rodriguez, 2015). Although this report seemed to be full of good news, some council members still had doubts on whether or not the city was getting what it should from the stadium.
Debi Davis, a council woman, said that she regretted her decision of voting for the financial report because she was not certain that they had the authority over the way in which the stadium was being operated. According to the 2014-2015 report, the city received $57 million derived from operating revenues (Rodriguez, 2015).
The San Francisco 49ers started a new chapter of their life in 2014 when they moved into the Levi’s Stadium located at Santa Clara (Bunker & Cestone, 2014). The team had been playing their matches at Candlestick Park before and had done this for 42 seasons. During the 1990s, the construction of stadiums became rampant. The Candlestick Park was the home for about five of the Super Bowl champion teams. In addition to that, it had great players such as Joe Montana and Steve Young. These big teams later moved to the AT&T Park located in the downtown San Francisco. Almost all of the NFL teams then opened new stadiums or relocated to the existing ones. Candlestick Park did not have a lot of modern amenities, and so they could not benefit from millions of dollars that other teams received in revenue from the luxury and club seats. The search for a new facility therefore began in 1997 (deMause, 2013). There were two plans presented with regards to building a new stadium, and they were created with the intention of luring the 2016 Olympics and a Super Bowl to San Francisco (deMause, 2013). The initial plans were to build a new stadium close to the Candlestick Park. However, this was cancelled after careful deliberation in which the 49ers concluded that this location did not provide the optimal experience they needed on game days. In addition to that, it was challenging to build a stadium in that neighborhood due to the geographic boundaries and surrounding development.
John York who owns the 49ers then decided that it would be a good idea to build the stadium in Santa Clara since that was the location of the team’s headquarters and it was also where their training facilities were located. Negotiations started to make this a reality, and an agreement was finally reached between the 49ers and the City of Santa Clara on May 29, 2009 (deMause, 2013). The stadium was estimated to cost about $1.3 billion, and over 90% of this amount came from the hotel tax, the NFL, sale of stadium assets, and the 49ers (Rodriguez, 2015). According to Rodriguez (2015), $114 million came from the City of Santa Clara, and this was in the form of public contributions. This figure included $42 million provided in the form of redevelopment money. On April 19, 2012, there was a groundbreaking ceremony, and Levi Strauss & Co. paid $220 million in May 2013 in order to have naming rights over the stadium for over two decades (Rodriguez, 2015). This is the most amazing stadium constructed in the NFL, and it has great features such as its seating capacity of 68,500 people, 165 luxury suites, a living roof with about 40 different types of vegetation, and so on (Rodriguez, 2015). There are two large open concourses occupying about 18,000 square feet that are located on the southwest and northwest corners of the stadium, which are used by fans to get into the stadium. In addition to all these, the stadium has the 49ers museum occupying about 20,000 square feet (Rodriguez, 2015). It has exhibits and interactive areas meant to help fans relive the great moments that the team has had throughout their history. The 49ers managed to accomplish their dream of getting the stadium they wanted. In addition to that, the San Francisco Bay Area was given the privilege of hosting the Super Bowl set for February 7, 2016 (Rodriguez, 2015). The event will take place at the Levi’s Stadium, and it is the first time after 1985 that the San Francisco Bay Area is getting this privilege (Rodriguez, 2015).
Comparison Between Initial Proposal and the Now-Existing Plan
The 49ers had a plan for their stadium, and although some of it came true, there had to be made some adjustments. This means that there are some differences between the initial proposal and what is on the ground, and this is what the study will further investigate and elucidate. The idea of a new stadium was approved in 1997, although the actual proposals and discussions began in 2007 (deMause, 2013). In 2006, Gavin Newsom, the Mayor of San Francisco at that time, suggested the construction of a new stadium in place of Candlestick. According to him, this would place the city at a better position to be chosen to host the International Olympic Games in 2016 (deMause, 2013). The stadium was supposed to hold between 68,000 and 72,000 fans and would take a budget of $600 to 800 million (Rodriguez, 2015). This stadium was supposed to be constructed on the southeast of the Candlestick Park. The proposal put forward in 1997 included a mall attached to the stadium. However, this option was voted against in the 2007 proposal, and the committee chose to partner with Lennar Corporation instead and build the stadium (deMause, 2013). According to the agreement, Lennar Corp. would be in charge of the constructing office space and housing within the stadium proximity in order to encourage economic development of the neighboring areas. Lennar Corporation and the 49ers presented their proposal to the board of supervisors. They hoped that it would be approved as soon as possible so they would be able to open their new stadium in 2012 (Rodriguez, 2015). Unfortunately, this did not happen, and the project was frozen before any construction started. According to Denise DeBartolo York and John York who owned San Francisco, the proposed location was inconvenient. They were worried about making the existing traffic worse and encountering parking problems in this location due to the fact that there were roads from the stadium to the free way. In addition to that, it would have made land limited in Candlestick. Basically, this location just would not work. The 49ers ownership also feared to invest in the project due to the extensive infrastructure costs required for the project.
The Yorks made a decision on November 10, 2006 with regard to the construction of a stadium (Rodriguez, 2015). The location they chose was in Santa Clara, about 40 miles in the southern part of San Francisco (deMause, 2013). The proposal for the stadium was completed in December 2011 (deMause, 2013). The franchise had the formal ‘green light’ to borrow money from Goldman Sachs, the U.S. Bank, and the Bank of America within the amount of $850 million (Rodriguez, 2015). The city of Santa Clara then agreed to use a G-A stadium loan to provide the 49ers with a loan of $200 million (Rodriguez, 2015). Therefore, the 49ers were able to start constructing the stadium in 2012 since they had over $1 billion. The stadium was opened two years later on July 17, 2014 (Rodriguez, 2015). Levi’s Stadium is quite different from the Candlestick Park and from any other stadium in the NFL. The area that it occupies is twice as big as that of the Candlestick Park, even though it has by about 1,000 fewer seats (Rodriguez, 2015).
There were some adjustments made to the Levi’s Stadium initial proposal. However, they still managed to stick to most parts of the proposal. For example, the location was changed from Candlestick to Santa Clara in San Francisco. According to the initial proposal, the stadium was supposed to hold between 68,000 and 72, 000, and this came true because it can accommodate 68,500 fans (Rodriguez, 2015).
The Levi’s Stadium is like no other. This stadium has put in place very eco-friendly measures that other stadiums have not been able to implement. For example, the playing field is irrigated with the reclaimed water. The photovoltaic electricity is derived from the solar bridges that connect Levi’s Stadium to the parking lots. In addition to that, there are other measures that have been put in place to reduce the rate of carbon emissions, and these are fulfilled in the form of public transportation routes and bike paths which have been made accessible to the public. This shows how the organizers care about the environment and the great lengths they have gone to in order to preserve it. Apart from the environmental aspect, Levi’s Stadium is also very versatile. It can host motocross events, concerts, soccer and football games played on Saturdays and Sundays, which is the most important part of it all.
This stadium took almost two decades to become a reality. There is a possibility that the 49ers will not play on this stadium in the future. However, Levi’s Stadium remains to be one of those places that every resident of Bay Area should endeavor to visit. This stadium has numerous possibilities in terms of what it can be used for. It is a place that can host soccer games one day and a Green Day concert the following day.
Critics of the stadium normally attack it from the environmental aspect. However, it cannot be ignored that a lot of effort has been put in to make it very green and more is still being done. This stadium can happen to be the greenest among all its NFL counterparts. Many people have welcomed the construction of this stadium and enjoyed numerous benefits from it. However, the reality is that it has been accompanied by a number of inconveniences, especially to the people living near the stadium. For example, the parking prices have increased from about $30 to $40 at the Candlestick Park and Levi’s Stadium respectively. In addition to that, the stadium cannot host night games played on Mondays and Thursdays. The neighbors of Levi’s Stadium have also complained of the increased traffic and nuisance from the fans on game days.
Although there are shortcomings to the construction of this stadium, the benefits far outweigh them. It is said that everything has both advantages and disadvantages, but if the advantages outnumber the negative aspects, then it is reasonable to simply embrace Levi’s Stadium and try to work on the shortcomings.
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