The 49ers will celebrate Levi’s® Stadium’s Ribbon Cutting on Thursday, so 49ers.com gets you ready with coverage of the team’s homes, past and present.
Will the San Francisco 49ers new home help the team win more games?
Yes and no.
It depends on who you ask.
The quick logic is that a state-of-the-art venue will provide all of the amenities that many of San Francisco’s counterparts have been enjoying for years.
Spacious locker rooms. The best medical equipment, whirlpools, recovery areas. You name it. A home-field advantage with louder fans and instant replays on 200 feet-wide video boards both sides of the stadium.
Need more examples?
How about elevators taking coaches down from the coaching booths to the floor level of the stadium in a moment’s notice? Jim Harbaugh’s coordinators, Vic Fangio and Greg Roman, can both say goodbye to their abbreviated half-time locker room visits that included a trek up and down Candlestick Park’s lower-bowl staircases.
“From a football perspective, certainly playing in a state-of-the-art facility is advantageous not only for the players, but the fans,” 49ers general manager Trent Baalke said in advance of the team’s Levi’s® Stadium Ribbon Cutting ceremony on Thursday.
But even with all the changes the 2014 team will experience in a matter of weeks, the club’s top personnel man wants his club to keep its hard-working mentality intact.
So stick to the basics on gameday?
“I don’t want it to be too luxurious either,” Baalke said. “This is a blue-collar football team with a blue-collar mentality and we like it that way. Although it will be nice with all of the amenities, part of me wants it to be a little bit dungeon-ess in how we do things on Sunday."
So stick to the basics on gameday?
“Yeah,” Baalke said. “This is a tough game played by men in tough situations. We need to create that gameday environment and that environment in general day-to-day of a blue-collar football team. So, there’s a balance there. You can have the amenities, but you’ve still got to remember why we play this game and what the purpose is.”
The old-school football enthusiast has only physically been inside of the stadium on two occasions. Despite not being wrapped up in the stadium's day-to-day happenings, Baalke knows that inside of the billion-dollar building there will eventually be a true focus on fundamentals: playing the game the right way.
“A football field is 100 yards long and 53 yards wide,” Baalke said. “It doesn’t matter where you play it. It could be in a parking lot. The great thing about our football team is that if it was played in a parking lot, they’d be willing to do that.”
Baalke said the stadium’s completion was a great milestone for the organization and the GM acknowledged the York family and the front office for its contributions in the process.
“It’s certainly going to be a great venue for the fans," Baalke said, "and hopefully bring a level of excitement to this area that will match or possibly even exceed what we’ve seen through the years at Candlestick."
Like many of the team’s season-ticket holders, the GM will have a different view of the games. While fans will enjoy sightlines built for football and not baseball, Baalke noted that his view will be further from the field than what he experienced in a suite at Candlestick Park.
It’s not a problem though.
“The vantage point is excellent,” Baalke said. “We’re right at mid-field, so we’ve got a clear vantage point to the field.”
Instantaneous replays will also help Baalke’s in-game experience. It figures to influence the coaching staff’s ability to challenge calls on the field.
“The technology in the stadium is second to none,” Baalke said. “It’s been a big push from ownership from the get-go is to have a state-of-the-art facility, not only in its green initiatives, but as well as the tech-side, the fan-based technology to get them as integrated with the game as possible.”
In addition to personnel men and coaches having comfier confines and technology at their side at all times, the players, too, will benefit from the new experience.
“I think the facilities from a training-room perspective, a locker-room perspective, and everything that goes on,” Baalke said, “the equipment room on a game day is all going to be state of the art.
“It’s certainly going to give us an advantage in those areas over what our current situation’s been, which is important.”
Baalke admitted he’s been so focused on improving San Francisco’s roster that he rarely tours the building. He visited the stadium last summer and as recent as last month.
“That’s been the only two times I’ve really step foot in the new stadium believe it or not it being only 30 yards away from this building,” Baalke said, referring his second-floor office inside team headquarters. “My focus has been and continues to be on what we’re doing over here and until we step foot in that building and start playing all of our focus is here.”
Soon enough Baalke will be spending 10 or more gamedays in the building. He’ll have more time to familiarize himself with the new surroundings.
“It has everything there is to offer in a stadium experience, which is nice,” Baalke noted, before reiterating his main stance.
“Once again, it’s going to be our goal and our mission to keep that ‘blue-collar’ atmosphere in every sense of the word.”