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49ers chief says trip south will be worth it

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Die-hard 49ers fans will have to trek to Santa Clara if the team relocates, but they will be rewarded with a state-of-the-art stadium befitting the Silicon Valley area.

Today, Santa Clara officials are scheduled to consider planning documents that paint a picture of a modern 49ers stadium that starkly contrasts with the aging concrete bowl the franchise currently uses in San Francisco.

“We need to be the smartest, most innovative stadium,” 49ers President Jed York told Silicon Valley business leaders gathered at the team’s Santa Clara headquarters Aug. 26. “We don’t have the luxury to be the biggest stadium.”

If the 49ers make the long-planned move to Santa Clara, virtually every aspect of the game experience — except for tailgating — will improve.

The stadium will boast nine levels on the west side and five elsewhere, and it’s planned to immerse fans in a technological wonderland.

During his talk, York alluded to 3-D televisions, a ticketless stadium, and ordering snacks and drinks from seats using touch screens.

“We don’t want to plan on technology that exists today because I know that things are going to change,” York said.

Some luxury suites will open up to a grass-covered rooftop, 20,000 square feet of solar panels are planned and more trees will be planted than torn out, documents show.

Santa Clara voters recently approved public subsidies to help the team build the $937 million stadium in time for the 2014 NFL season. The team already trains nearby.

In addition to providing a spectacular playing venue for up to two NFL teams, the 68,500-seat stadium is planned as an entertainment destination where concerts and other events could be held on more than two out of every three days of the year, planning documents show.

The stadium will be built in an entertainment zone that includes a golf and tennis club, a convention center, roller coasters and hotels.

Unlike Candlestick Park, the new stadium will be accessible by train, light rail and bus.

San Francisco-based fans could catch Caltrain, which currently sells round-trip fares to Santa Clara for $15.50, and then climb aboard a shuttle. The train trip takes up to 80 minutes each way.

Fans who drive will have plenty of parking options, but most will be in nearby lots.

Those who park in one of three new or existing nearby lots will suffer from tailgating restrictions, including bans on stereos, loudspeakers, fireworks and any partying before 9 a.m. or within 750 feet of residences, documents show.

Stadium facts

2: NFL teams that could use Santa Clara stadium
4: Years before it’s planned to be built
17: Large non-NFL events planned annually
250: Maximum small non-NFL events annually
68,500: Seats
75,000: Maximum seating for a Super Bowl
404: Stadium parking spaces
40,000: Publicly or privately owned parking spaces within a 20-minute walk

Source: City of Santa Clara

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