49ers can't add shade at Levi's Stadium, will drop price of bottled water

Matt Maiocco
NBC Sports BayArea

SANTA CLARA -- After soliciting the opinions of numerous architects and civil engineers, the 49ers found there is no reasonable way to provide shade for those who sit in the sunny seats on the east side of Levi's Stadium.

"We can't add shade," team president Al Guido said on the 49ers Insider Podcast. "It's not possible."

The 49ers have investigated all solutions to provide relief from the heat at Levi's Stadium, Guido said. But the design of the stadium, along with FAA regulations, makes all possible renovations or construction impractical.

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"What I can tell the fans is we're committed to making their experience as best as it possibly can," Guido said. "We understand there might be a game or two early in the season that might be warm. We cannot add shade. We cannot build a roof."

The 49ers have taken some measures, including scheduling preseason games later in the day. The 49ers open the exhibition season Thursday against the Dallas Cowboys in a game that is scheduled to kick off at 7 p.m. The preseason finale, Thursday, Aug. 30, against the Los Angeles Chargers, also is scheduled for 7 p.m.

The 49ers have two regular-season games in September and October that could get uncomfortable for some fans: Week 2, Sept. 16, against Detroit at 1 p.m.; and Week 5, Oct. 7, against Arizona, 1:25 p.m.

One improvement for fans is the pricing of bottled water at games. The 49ers provide free filtered water on the concourse, and the price of cold, bottled water has been dropped from $6 to $2, Guido said.

But any construction elements, such as a tarp to provide shade to a large portion of the fans at Levi's Stadium, have been deemed unworkable.

"A lot of it stems from FAA regulations," said Guido, citing the stadium's proximity to San Jose International Airport. "Structurally, what I can tell you is even if you could do it, it would take years to get something up there. To hang something 230 feet, 240 feet from the air, it has to be a structure. It can't be a sunshade or an umbrella or anything along those lines. It has to be substantial."

It also was deemed impractical to install misting devices to blow damp air over those sitting in the stands. Because of the general weather conditions at Levi's Stadium, the mist would not immediately evaporate, leaving the concrete walkways wet, slippery and dangerous, Guido said.

Guido said the 49ers received complaints about the uncomfortable conditions in the first season the stadium opened. On Oct. 5, 2014, the 49ers played a day game against Kansas City. It was 85 degrees at kickoff.

The club did not receive many additional complaints over the next two seasons. But last year, the concerns resurfaced with an 87-degree game on Sept. 9 against Carolina.

"There's no clear-cut way to deal with the early game heat issue," Guido said. "We looked into it, and it's just not a simple solution."

Despite the heat issues, 49ers fans have renewed their season tickets at a rate of 97 percent over the first four years at Levi's Stadium, Guido said.

-- The 49ers recently responded to an NFL memo to express interest in hosting Super Bowls 59 or 60, Guido said. Levi's Stadium was the site for Super Bowl 50 on Feb. 7, 2016. Guido said the 49ers got positive feedback, despite the geographical complications of events spread throughout the Bay Area.

"The NFL resoundingly says it was one of the best Super Bowls they've held," Guido said. "The marketplace is fantastic and, obviously, we were helped by great weather."

-- Levi's Stadium also is in the mix for the 2026 FIFA World Cup, which FIFA recently awarded to the United States, Mexico and Canada. There are 23 stadiums in North America to be considered, and the U.S. will first narrow its list to 12 to 14 stadiums. The bid to host games at Levi's Stadium must be re-submitted in 2020.

Although unlikely Levi's Stadium will be chosen as the site of the final, Guido said he hopes Santa Clara will be the location for multiple matches throughout the month-long tournament.

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