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SANTA CLARA, Calif. — As predicted, when it came to the celebration and platitudes at Thursday's official 49ers stadium ribbon cutting, the platitudes won.
In fact, you could say the platitudes won big. They won bigger than big, big, big.
"It's the most unbelievable outdoor entertainment facility in the world," said Jed York, the 49ers' chief executive officer, during one of the dedication speeches.
"This is the most amazing stadium on the face of the planet," said Levi's CEO Chip Bergh, whose company will spend $220 million over the next 20 years for the right to put its name on the structure.
"The most iconic building in Silicon Valley," said Santa Clara Mayor Jamie Matthews.
"Tremendous," said NFL commissioner Roger Goodell, describing how the stadium reflects the "greatness of the region."
"This is far beyond different from anything that currently exists," said stadium tour guide Kayla Kilpatrick during a trip to the suite tower roof hospitality area, as philosophers everywhere pondered the cosmic meaning of that statement.
Hey, what did you expect? That's how things work on the day that any new sports facility removes its cellophane, especially when it is the first NFL stadium built in California since the 1960s. Everybody is excited and prone to overstatement.
But when you peel away the fancy words and the space-time continuum impact, what truly matters? The 49ers and Santa Clara and the construction workers built themselves a splendid sports stadium. And doggone if they didn't do it in a little over two years, just as promised. That's what matters.
So a party was certainly in order. Levi's Stadium will be a terrific place for football. Fans who can afford the pricey seats for 49ers games-or the less pricey seats for other events, such as the high school doubleheader in late August-will discover that Levi's Stadium is easily the most welcoming and spectator-friendly major outdoor sports venue in California. (Sorry for my own platitude. But it's true.)
On a quick tour, there are nifty little touches that jump out, such as the concourse around the lower deck with concessions and restrooms being 63 feet from side to side, more than three times wider than the Candlestick Park concourses-and that's just the inner concourse. There's also an "express lane" outer concourse dedicated solely to walking the stadium perimeter, for people who want to reach the opposite side without fighting cross-traffic from fans in line for food or toilets.
And there are the big touches that blow you away, such as that "far beyond different" rooftop hospitality area high amid the stadium light towers that features an eco-garden and amazing views.
It will surely become Silicon Valley's go-to corporate party spot on non-event days.
In the end, each person will find a personal favorite part of the $1.3 billion structure. Bergh, not surprisingly, said his favorite part of the stadium was the "501 Club," named after his company's most popular jeans brand.
"I haven't seen it in a few weeks," Bergh said before the ribbon-cutting, "but I heard that the 501 Club was finished at exactly 5:01 this morning."
This might well be true. Some finish work remains to be done on the stadium. But if the 49ers needed to play there this weekend, they could.
Goodell, in his remarks, even threw in a teaser that the Raiders might also be in the mix for home games at Levi's one day. (One suppressed secret of the Levi's Stadium location is that it's actually a few miles closer to Oakland than to San Francisco. Don't tell anybody. Raiders fans might claim territorial rights.)
By far, the day's coolest moment occurred when hundreds of construction workers walked down nearby stairs to a standing ovation. (Although strangely, no one during the ceremony mentioned the names of the two workers who died during the stadium project. A memorial tree and plaque on the plaza will soon be dedicated to Edward Lake Jr. and Donald White, said Matthews afterward.)