Plans to build a new stadium for the San Francisco 49ers came up already in 1997, when reconstruction of Candlestick Park was envisaged. However, despite support from local voters, the project never took off. In 2006 a new idea came up, this time for a new stadium built next to the old one as part of San Francisco’s 2016 Olympics bid. This one also fell through as 49ers owners announced they were in talks over relocation to Santa Clara.
That scheme was eventually approved both by the city and its voters, who welcomed the project in 2010. A new stadium designed by HNTB was to consist mostly of steel prefabs, most of them bare and visible to passers-by. Its dominant feature is the main grandstand with a tall commercial building topped by a 27,000 square-foot garden (2,500sqm) and 20,000sqf solar plant (1,900sqm).
The stands were divided into three tiers, lower one enclosing the pitch, together holding over 68,500 people with possible increase to 75,000 if needed. The layout varies between stands as the south and north also provide room for two giant screens, 890sqm each. Meanwhile the west side accommodates 9,000 business seats and 176 suites.
The project estimated to cost $1.27 billion was mostly financed by the city through loans and taxes, with 49ers contributing the remainder. Part of the cost was recovered before opening as Levi’s became naming rights owner in May 2013. The company paid $200 million for 20 years, which was the third largest deal of its kind at that time.
Construction took just 819 days with mostly prefab elements installed on site. But despite the simple structure its cost is among the world’s largest. This comes partly along the expensive equipment, like 800 concession stands or $30 million alone spent on two giant screens. Also, the project was done with focus on sustainability. Apart from the green roof and solar plant it means recollection of rainwater, efficient energy management, construction and furnishings with significant amount of recycled materials. Altogether, this allowed the stadium to reach the LEED Gold Certificate.