Fans at 49ers home opener spend more time getting out of parking lot than watching 49ers lose

The San Francisco 49ers finally had their real, honest-to-god, official regular season home opener at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara yesterday, and according to the San Jose Mercury News, the traffic still royally sucks:

While post-game transit rides appeared smooth, some fans who drove reported huge waits to get out of the parking spaces, saying it took two hours or more just to leave their lot.
Some fans resorted to driving over curbs to get out and others said travelers looked so angry they were ready to fight the parking attendants. Others, in a fit of rage, claimed they wouldn’t return until the situation was fixed.

At least traffic getting to the game was a “non-issue,” according to NBC Bay Area, with — sorry, you weren’t finished, Merc News?

Fans going to the blue lots off Lawrence Expressway reported pregame waits of up to two hours.

“I have to say, it’s beyond frustrating,” San Jose resident Joey Windham, 35, said from his car before the game, where he had barely budged for two hours. “It pretty much has zapped the life out of everybody.”

 

Now, the 49ers’ old place had some traffic problems, too, so take all this with a grain of salt. (Especially the bit about fans refusing to come back.) But if nothing else, this is a sign that the preseason traffic woes can’t be cured by the Great America amusement park being closed on game days (as it was last night), or running a few extra commuter trains.

One improvement: No one died from the heat this time!


32 comments on “Fans at 49ers home opener spend more time getting out of parking lot than watching 49ers lose

  1. What I loved was every time they bumped to commercial, either to or from, they kept showing scenes from San Francisco. They mentioned only once (to my recollection) that they were in fact 50 MILES away from there. Thats the kind of Santa Clara publicity that money can’t buy.

  2. @TRPackman
    Kinda like St. Petersburg building a dome to get a baseball team that would put their city on the map….and the team being named “Tampa Bay.”

  3. TR Packman

    To be fair, it’s 38 miles from Candlestick to Levi’s but yeah, they couldn’t have picked a worse location or a part of the bay area that is more culturally different than what you have in the city.

    This is also why I take public transportation to games. At the stick, you could take BART to Balboa Park station then transfer to a bus or take Caltrain to bay shore and then walk a mile.

    You could also take a MUNI train from the city and then transfer to a shuttle at the end of the line. This new stadium has almost zero options for people in the Oakland/SF section of the bay area. You could always take the more expensive Amtrak to the game but then you would have to wait as much as an hour and a half for the train after the game. I didn’t realize that it was geographically possible to build a stadium between SJ and SF and be over 3 miles from the closest Caltrain station. It might not sound like much to an outsider but judging how things have gone so far, Caltrain is a much needed option.

  4. Welcome to our world in New Jersey. The Giants have been playing in the New Jersey Meaodowlands since the 70’s and the Jets since the 80’s and…

    a) They are still called NY Giants/Jets

    b) When watching a game on TV they say the location as New York

    c) And the Super Bowl was played here and NY took all the credit. Can’t fight the big cities.

    I know your team needed a new stadium but ask any Giant or Jet fan (especially season ticket holders) and they say that there was no need to replace the old Giant Stadium

    But at least we don’t have the parking lot problem.

    Goo luck!!!

  5. NJ

    Oh yeah, the NFL in general has become such a regional sport that almost half it’s teams play in the suburbs. I don’t have a problem with it since part of the culture of the league is that of tailgating and what not so you need a massive parking lot around the stadium. It’s just that it’s good to have public transportation options as well.

    Also, the meadowlands is just 11 miles from midtown Manhattan. The Niners play about 40 miles from downtown SF. According to Al Michaels, it’s 43 miles so they are farther from the city they claim to call home than any other team in sports. Even the Angels and Pistons are just 30 miles from LA and Detroit respectively.

  6. It’s probably good this game didn’t have the usual 1 p.m. starting time for west-coast NFL games, because someone probably WOULD have died from the heat. It was royally hot this weekend. We set an all-time record for Sept 13 of 104F in Sacramento on Saturday.

  7. I was at the game and live in the city. I picked a VTA light rail station on the same line as the stadium, parked on a street in front of an empty office building, and had no problems at all. In fact my wife said “you’re home earlier than I thought you’d be home” when I got back.

    Yes, it’s 50 miles away in Santa Clara which is a long drive, but at least as a San Francisco taxpayer, I’m not paying for it. Plus, I’m a Bears fan, so all-in-all a good night.

  8. Smokin’ hot in San Diego too from what I heard…

    Re: teams not located in their designated/name city… I recall an old NFL owner once created his own name for a section of a city… using parts of his (adult) children’s first names… and the amazing thing about it is that he was less incompetent than the guy who bought the team from his estate a few years later…

  9. As I’m sure someone from SC or SF will soon say, traffic and parking were major problems identified during the design and engineering phases of this project. The 49ers did next to nothing to ease those problems, and now they have a mess on their hands (though those who advocate public transport are of course right, it does help reduce both your own wait and that of the car commuters…).

    This is like building a facility without toilets or water fountains…

  10. One of the Yorkie’s excuses was that a San Drancisco stadium wouldn’t have parking choices to make the tailgating experience wonderful .
    Chalk another lie up to Yorkie’s and Harbaugh.

  11. @John Bladen – That would be Jack Kent Cooke who when he built FedEx for his Washington NFL team, decided he’d call the area around the stadium Raljon, MD (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Raljon,_Maryland) instead of Landover, MD. It’s named for his kids Ralph and John.

    He got the USPS to recognize it, but after Snyder bought the team the area reverted to the Landover address name which is what most of the area was called already.

  12. Yes it would, JM.
    And you probably remember Al Michaels looking at his shoes during the pregame show when he had to tell viewers where they were bringing the game to “you” from…

    Neil: Have you banned all derivatives of “Sheep” or just the human/ungulate hybrid versions?

  13. I haven’t banned anything, there was just a plea from the masses (well, one mass) to please, god, stop the madness.

  14. There was an unfounded idea that the business parks around the field would allow fans to park in the unused on Sunday parking lots. Not one business park allowed it. And still the Niners sold the idea.

  15. Sheep can’t complain, 9’ers have your money so the urgency to “fix” the situation is not a priority. Only way to make franchises sit up and listen is withholding dollars. But then you can’t get your fix, bahh, bahhh, bahhhh…
    The streets around the mallpark are still limited and not capable of handling the volume gameday brings. CalTrain runs through the most densely populated corridor on the peninusla, the kind of acreage needed for “modern” NFL mallparks isn’t possible in that stretch. CalTrain is far from a popular transport option, stagnent passenger numbers and the annual threat of subsidity cuts because of the large deficits aren’t ways to attract more riders. This and the awkward terminus in SF, who knows when the “Grand Central of the west” will ever be completed. As someone who commuted into the real GCT and endured CT for several years – nothing will ever compare to
    the century old edifice.
    Any spur to the mallpark will run from $5 – $8 million per mile, for very limited use.
    BTW – The Suncoast Dome was built in St. Pete because Hillsboro Co. couldn’t get out of it’s own way. That dome got you TelCo Park and mallparks in Seattle and Chicago. Franchise names do not have to be literal, Tampa Bay is on the St. Pete shoreline as much as it is on Tampa’s.

  16. Bovines can’t complain, they’ve forked over their dollars so a “fix” won’t be an important priority. Stay home and you’ll save on car wear & tear, gas cost, parking cost and whatever the franchise can con you into “experience” spending in their building on top of the deadly sun exposre.
    But then the jones can’t be satiated, bah. bahh, bahhhh…
    Building 3+ miles from CalTrain wasn’t important to the 9’ers for the same reason that building in SJ nowhere near BART isn’t important to Lew-Lew Wolff, the car trade brings in bigger dollars. The route CT takes is some of the most densely populated and overpriced real estate on the peninsula. Acreage needed for a “modern” NFL mallpark makes proximity to this “railroad” impossible. That and the 9’ers wanted a one-location business after years of piling up the miles up and down 101. Hey, if you can con and twist arms to get that, wouldn’t you?
    CalTrain coaches are near empty most of the day, Cali car culture and the annual threat of cutting operating deficit reducing subsidies from Sac as well as the awkward terminus (except for Gi-ants openings) and service disruptions due to suicide attempts near dangerous grade crossings make the line more like an expensive “toonerville trolley”. VTA is closing stations and there’s usually lots of empty seats on any of their trains. Unlike regions that have had rail transit for more than a century, it’s still a novelty used on rare occasions by most locals.
    Any spur towards the mallpark would run between $5 – $8 million a mile for very limited service. No guarantee that the uber-expensive “Grand Central of the west” will take folks out of their cars for at least another generation. I commuted into the real GCT for more than 2 decades, chances of the ertsatz SF building coming close to the NYC landmark are dim at best.
    BTW – SunCoast dome was built in St. Pete because Hillsboro Co./Tampa couldn’t get out of their own way. Tampa Bay does lap up on the shoreline of St. Pete also.
    Gi-ants customers should remember that if it wasn’t for the dome the Gi-ants would not have had a ready-made threat to relocate and eventually build TelCo. Park. It’s responsible for mallparks in Seattle and Chicago as well.
    Rayz turn a profit and the 3 franchises got what they wanted, served it’s purpose well.

  17. @Tommy – The EIR showed a level of service of ‘F’ (which is complete gridlock) around the stadium on NFL game days, but as usual, our city council voted ‘yes’ to go forward with the project without mitigation measures for the problems identified in the EIR. That’s just how business is done in Santa Clara.
    I recall a 49ers TV announcer during the stadium ballot Measure J campaign telling people on the air that it would only take ‘5 minutes’ to get out of the parking lots after a game in Santa Clara. They actually sold people on the idea that traffic and parking would be better than at Candlestick. Those of us who live here knew that ‘they’ were lying during the campaign (about the money, about the parking/traffic/loss of use of surrounding city facilities.)

  18. Give them a few years to handle the transportation problems. The one game I went to at Candlestick (which I thought was a great stadium in an unfortunate location) saw long waits for busses as well.

    Santa Clara isn’t paying for the stadium. The seat licenses took care of that. Maybe some for infrastructure but in return the local hospitality businesses are getting a big boost. Try booking a hotel for WrestleMania and you’ll see.

  19. I’m lovin’ the Mallpark terminology, simple but brilliant! Concerning the SF name for the 49ers. I think most of us agree that they are now the Santa Clara 49ers. In trying to justify the SF awhile back, I thought about the Tampa Bay situation where the team names are representing the actual Bay, and not the cities of Tampa or St.Pete. An argument can be made(and I’m not personally making it)That the San Francisco Bay itself does come down to Santa Clara. So they could be called the San Francisco Bay 49ers.ie…Tampa Bay. Just a non serious thought to throw out.

  20. I believe Rob Neyer came up with “mallpark,” close to 15 years ago. Or at least, he popularized it. Anyone have an OED handy?

  21. @Ben–Seat Licenses did NOT “pay for the stadium.”

    Yes, the money generated from the PSLs went toward construction, but I believe this revenue stream generated less than 1/3 of the total cost of construction, and it provides nothing toward the operating costs.

    The City’s Stadium Authority is the entity responsible for all the loans, and while hotels may have some full nights, any revenue that generates won’t go very far on paying off loans or covering operating costs.

  22. “…The route CT takes is some of the most densely populated and overpriced real estate on the peninsula. Acreage needed for a “modern” NFL mallpark makes proximity to this “railroad” impossible…”

    Why? When the city is going to own the building and is responsible for any unfunded liability (and in some cases, cost overruns too), there’s no reason on earth not to demand that the city acquire and demolish the most expensive real estate it contains just to build your new franchise’s home. And the best part? It’s owned by the city, so you don’t even have to pay property taxes for the services the building (voraciously) consumes…

  23. John,
    My understanding is that the 49er do in fact pay property taxes on the days they’re using the stadium, but not on any other days.

    Larry Stone, the assessor (who liked to cavort on the field at Candlestick) was a big backer of this tax avoidance scheme.

  24. @ Jay – yes, you’re right about the 49ers only paying property taxes on the days they have games. Otherwise, the taxing entities receive no property taxes from the stadium.

    Regarding tax assessor Larry Stone – from the Santa Clara Plays Fair website:
    “SC County Tax Assessor Larry Stone also appears in 49ers stadium campaign materials. SJ Mercury News: “Santa Clara County Assessor Larry Stone also accepted tickets worth $350 from the team in August 2005 while he was exploring possible South Bay relocation sites on the 49ers’ behalf. The Mercury News discovered that Stone listed the tickets among gifts he received on an economic disclosure form, despite his statement in the San Francisco Chronicle on Thursday that he ‘paid for everything that I got from the 49ers.’ “”

  25. Why do people think paying off Levi’s Stadium is Santa Clara’s problem? It is not, and here is why:

    1. The 49ers pay 30M a year in rent and any difference on debt service. Meaning if the 30M is short of the actual payment the authority has to make year to year the 49ers cover the difference. This means the 49ers are on the hook year to year, not the taxpayers.

    2. The authority is “tax sheltered” hence it made sense for it to hold the loans, it is just a smart agreement between the 49ers and Santa Clara.

    As for the game, I tailgated in Red Lot 6 before the game on the 18th hole and it was a great experience. No issues getting to our spot and setting up.

    After the game we posted for 1 hour and we got out in 5 minutes onto the freeway. Candlestick was 2+ hours, this was a big improvement. There were no train tracks or pedestrian crossings for us to deal with. If you parked further away it was 10 min to get out.

    The people who got stuck for 2 hours were the ones who were exiting where the light rail tracks run. With trains and pedestrians crossing it creates a log jam in that area.

    The 49ers and Santa Clara need to create more exits or lights onto Great America funneling traffic onto 101. It can be done, just needs some creativity, they can even be only used on game days and have cops do the traffic control piece so no need for lights.

    Overall, the stadium is amazing, the mobile app ordering worked great and the concourses are so big there were small lines for everything no one was running into each other like Candlestick. The wi-fi worked like a charm and I could text during the game and upload. Not possible inside of Candlestick.

    Except for Kap stinking up the 4th quarter it was a lot of fun…..I am mad I didn’t buy more seat licenses.

  26. @SBSJ I left my seats at 9pm, took me 20 min to walk to Red lot 5, lot of people near the stadium all trying to get out, made the walk slow. We were the people blocking the exists from the interior lots as we walked. Was on 237 within 5 min and home by 945pm.

    Other than the walk everything went smooth. On Tazman walking in the direction of Lawrence Expressway, even though there were cops at each intersection, they were not controlling lights just making sure no one blocked the intersection.

    When i pulled up at 4pm to Red lot 5 (5 min after i exited 237) I could see the back up on Tazman into the Blue lots, that looked like parking lot.

    I bought 30+ SBL and sold all but two, I also wished i would of bought more. Still being contacted to sale my last 2, pretty surprised at the demand.

  27. are we surprised? are we shocked? Not really. Now we have to live with this chaos and we residents are getting told “if you don’t like it” move. Some residents were trapped in their homes on game day because they couldn’t get into the traffic, where they live. There was a recent ‘town hall’ meeting over the issues and not even the current Mayor came to the event. I guess he knew he’d be booed down. And to think he has the guts to run again. Some of us might not take to kindly to voting for him and decide to vote him out! Nightmare traffic, a fan dying on the first day, brawls in the bathroom, over priced beer, inadequate parking, yeh this place is worth staying away from. And our City council that are our so called “stadium authority” need to be voted out.

  28. Are we surprised? Are we shocked? Not really. Now we have to live with this chaos and we residents are getting told “if you don’t like it” move. Some residents were trapped in their homes on game day because they couldn’t get into the traffic, where they live. There was a recent ‘town hall’ meeting over the issues and not even the current Mayor came to the event. I guess he knew he’d be booed down. And to think he has the guts to run again.

    Some of us might not take to kindly to voting for him and decide to vote him out! Nightmare traffic, a fan dying on the first day, brawls in the bathroom, over priced beer, inadequate parking, yeh this place is worth staying away from. And our City council that are our so called “stadium authority” need to be voted out.

  29. @Trueblood, 9/15/14, at 11:08 am
    I heard that same big fat “falsehood” told by Phil Sims, when he was calling the Kansas City Game.

    Candlestick Park is 38 miles away from Levi’s Stadium, and Downtown San Jose is located 5 miles away?!?! Note to Phil & the Trueblood, YOU ALWAYS DETERMINE DISTANCE OF LOCATION FROM THE CITY’S SEAT, the towns City Hall! There fore the distance from SF is 47 miles, and San Jose is 5 miles, this pisses me off to no end, because the folks that are perpetrating this Falsehood is none other than the 49er Ownership….Why, because San Franciscans want the “SF” off of the 49ers Uniform, and the “SJ on them!”