San Jose Mercury News columnist Mark Purdy said farewell to the San Francisco 49ers‘ Candlestick Park yesterday, and while he doesn’t hide his feelings for the old place (“The best of riddance, you old hunk of concrete garbage”), he does try to evaluate what the fan experience will be like at the team’s new home in Santa Clara next year. And after discussing such line items as the concourses (“43 feet wider”) and restrooms (“28 percent more plumbing fixtures”), he goes what he calls “architectural-geeky” and brings up the new stadium’s feature that will have the most impact on actually watching the game:
The vast majority of luxury boxes are located in an eight-level tower — essentially, a 12-story building — on the west side of the field. That means two things: One, there are no upper decks on the west side, just the lower bowl and the tower. And two, the east side upper decks can be closer to the ground — because it does not sit atop multiple levels of luxury boxes.
That second item isn’t trivial, as one of the hallmarks of most modern stadiums is that they have terrible upper-deck seats, thanks to those luxury suites having to be wedged in beneath them. Avoiding this by stacking all the suites on one side has been done before, though — the Atlanta Hawks‘ Philips Arena, Red Bull New York’s Red Bull Arena, and the Detroit Lions‘ Ford Field all come to mind. And as you can see from Ford Field, this makes for a somewhat unusual view facing you across the field:
Still, having to stare at a wall of glass is a reasonable tradeoff for having a better view of the game, in my opinion anyway. (Red Bull Arena is admittedly the only one of these three I’ve personally seen a game at.) Levi’s Stadium construction co-director Robert Rayborn speculates to Purdy that this layout will also make for a louder stadium, since sound will bounce off the suite wall and echo around the place; it’s hard to tell from the Ford Field example since hardly anyone has ever made noise at a Lions game, but there’s some evidence that it might be possible, anyway.