San Francisco 49ers CEO Jed York finally opened up to the San Francisco Chronicle about the 49ers new $1.2 billion Levi’s Stadium.
There was a lot of criticism the first year of the new stadium, that it lacked the noise and ambiance of Candlestick Park. York was aware of those issues and is looking to address them.
“We’ve talked about this internally: I think we’ve built a beautiful house,” York said. “It’s not quite a home. Now the goal is to make it a home. I think it’s starting to feel more like that.”
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Empty seats at the beginning of the 3rd quarter was one of the stadiums biggest issues. The 49ers created such a nice lounge environment on the lower level that people did not feel inclined to get back to their seats in time for kickoff. York says a lot of that has to do with people wanting to check out the stadium for the first time and that trend will subside in year-two.
“I think part of it’s the novelty,” York said of the empty seats. “I mean, one of the things we used to see at Candlestick was people leaving in the fourth quarter to beat traffic. So there were things like that at Candlestick. And I think there were certain people that wanted to show empty seats (at Levi’s).
“I think when you look at kickoff in the third quarter, the seats might not have been full. But by a minute or two into the quarter, people were back in their seats. And it’s just messaging and getting people to understand ‘OK, it takes me X minutes to get back to my seat.’ I think part of it is messaging and fans learning how to use the stadium.”
York is confident the stadium will feel more like a home going forward. He states the difference between Candlestick and Levi’s is night and day and fans will start to get used to the new stadium.
“It’s just a different experience for fans. And as fans come through, they see ‘OK, this is not like going to Candlestick.’ And the more they see what the experience is at Levi’s versus what they knew at Candlestick, they get better at using the stadium.
“I think even towards the end of the season, fans had a better sense of the building, how to work the building, how to use the building,” York said. “That will get more commonplace the more that we’re there and the more memories that we build together.”