After exploring a bit of the city, I went back to my sister Alex’s apartment and got ready for the evening’s game. I purchased the cheapest ticket I could find on StubHub and was sad to see waiting hadn’t panned out. Sometimes you win buying last minute, sometimes you lose. I did have a small birthday credit, so hooray tiny victory! Getting down to Santa Clara was a mini-mystery to me and I used Google Maps to find the fastest route via public transportation. I found that taking the Bart to Fremont and catching the 251 bus was the quickest. That worked for me, and I headed out with three and a half hours until kickoff. The map said it would take about one hour and 45 minutes, but I wanted wiggle room and time to explore the tailgate scene and whatnot.
After walking around the lot, I entered the gate to a red carpet party the team had dubbed the Faithful Mile. There was a live concert, booths, and a giant #Kickoff2015 sign for fans to take pictures with. I walked through looking for the right bridge to take over to the actual stadium. There were different bridges for different ticket levels. I crossed over the bridge and entered through Gate A with my mouth agape because this stadium was freakin’ majestic. The gigantic, clear video boards, the array of concessions (vegan dogs and wine!), the suites, the amenities! I was blown away both figuratively and a bit literally- ladies the wind is out of control. Wear a hat or pull your hair up in a ponytail. Looking back at all my pictures, I look like a hot mess!
For most of the pre-game, I hung on the 49ers side with some fans that were going gaga for Steve Young and Jerry Rice. They’re cool and all, but I saw Phil Dawson and got pumped- Browns fan in the Bay people! I’m kidding; I was excited to see those guys in person too. Steve played to the crowd throwing a couple passes and took countless pictures with the fans swarming him. I headed over to the Vikings’ end and watched them warm up a bit and even scored a picture with the notoriously buff referee, Ed Hochuli before stadium staff started shuffling us off the field and to our seats.
After an exciting, but scoreless first quarter, I wanted to explore the stadium a little more and see different vantage points. I didn’t make it into the concourse very far before seeing the phone charging station. Maybe I’m a bit too trusting, but I left my phone to charge and parked myself in the standing room behind the north end zone. This game was too exciting to guard my phone. I have an old phone that isn’t that great, so I figured it was fine. Aside from the home team side, there is standing room all around the main concourse and I couldn’t find a bad vantage point. Great ticket option if you ask me! After watching El Guapo run for six I made my way around (stopping periodically to watch the game) to the south end zone and up to the 300 level concourse to check out the Pepsi Party Deck right in time for halftime.
I walked from the north end zone to the south end zone passing by the suite entrance. Whoaa, so that’s how the Bay elite watch football, in total luxury. It was beautiful and I silently made some new life goals before walking to the concession stand and inquiring about the vegan hot dogs (do as the locals do I guess!). He advised against it, saying they were better when ordered early in the game. Not a vegan myself, I took his advice and opted for hot chocolate to warm me up and walked over to the standing room to catch another Hyde touchdown. It’s like he knew I was there and was putting on a show! The hot chocolate warmed me up and I watched the rest of the game with a group of SF fans.
After the game, I headed down into the bowl to try and take some final score selfies for the good people at Guinness and ran into a father/son wearing Browns jerseys. What are the odds? I gave them high fives and asked why they were in town. They told me they’re trying to see all the NFL stadiums (two a year) and were crossing Levi’s Stadium off their list. That’s my favorite part of traveling to stadiums alone, all the people I come across. I met over 15 people over the course of the night and heard so many great NFL stories!
With my post game selfie checked off, I met up with Joanne at the family services gate and got my witness log book signed and we took a picture together holding it up! I thanked her for her help and was on my way. It was 10:30ish and I thought for sure I would miss the buses back, but when I arrived at the Hilton I saw there was a long line of people waiting to board. I passed the time talking to a Mexican family on holiday. By the time we got on the bus they weren’t charging and shuttled us back to the station where I caught the Bart. It was a very long ride home as the train I took in didn’t have evening service. As I stood waiting for the last Bart train to SF in Oakland I contemplated- was this worth the hassle? I paid $14 round trip, so yes, yes it was. Three hours to get back, though long, saved me a lot in parking costs and navigating unfamiliar freeways.
Levi’s Stadium exceeded my expectations and even dazzled me a bit! The competitive game also helped keep the atmosphere going until the very end, which enhances a venue experience. Minus the small inconvenience of travel, there was no downside to my visit. I can’t wait to come back to see the Browns in the Super Bowl. Stop laughing!
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Special thank you to Joanne for her time and assistance during my visit!