Austadiums on Tour: Super Bowl 50
One of the most expensive stadiums ever built, Halftime Show featuring Coldplay, Beyoncé and Bruno Mars, over 70,000 fans and two champion teams. Welcome to Super Bowl 50 at Levi’s Stadium in the San Francisco Bay Area, California.
There's no doubting the Super Bowl is one of the world’s biggest sports events and 2016 was the 50th edition - a major milestone that was celebrated and further added to the aura of it all.
Luckily for me, this was the first Super Bowl I was to attend – my first NFL game. While not a massive American sports junkie, with my NFL experience limited to TV and watching the season finale at a selected Melbourne Pub each year, this was a bucket list item and the anticipation levels were off the chart.
Caroline Panthers v Denver Broncos was the match-up, but honestly, sometimes it seems the game plays second fiddle to everything else.
To have the event in San Francisco was another bonus too – such as amazing city. Great culture, great people, beautiful architecture, iconic landmarks and perfect weather.
Levi’s Stadium was the location for the big game – the relatively new home of the San Francisco 49ers. The franchise moved from Candlestick Park (in San Francisco) to Levi’s Stadium in 2014 – some 60km’s from their traditional home. Something that’s unfamiliar to us Aussies, but actually quite common in the States.
Super Bowl fever literally took over the city of San Francisco. A number of fan experiences brought home how big the event is. ‘Super Bowl City’ was an outdoor fan experience located near the wharf area on the edge of the city, featuring a stage and all sorts of NFL-related activity.
While the ‘NFL Experience’ was an exhibition-style activation located in the middle of town, with an array of games, activities and exhibits. Both were large-scale and required airport-style security to enter – which is the norm in the USA. There were also 50 golden ‘SB50’ objects located around the Bay Area at iconic landmarks such as the Golden State Bridge.
Sunday, February 7, was game day and the trip to the Levi’s Stadium started out in downtown San Francisco. About an hour on the train, followed by a further 30 minutes or so on the light rail service to the stadium. The process was streamlined and quite impressive, albeit long.
The stadium looked impressive walking towards to it. Big steep stands across three sides and a stack of corporate facilities on the TV broadcast side of the ground. Passionate fans and fan activations everywhere.
Lady Gaga sung the national anthem and in regards to the game, the Denver Broncos took an early lead and never trailed in the contest. Leading 13-7 at the main break, they went on to defeat the Carolina Panthers 24-10.
Denver recorded seven sacks and forced four turnovers. Carolina kept pace by recording five sacks and forcing two turnovers. Denver linebacker Von Miller was named Super Bowl MVP. This game was also the final game of Broncos quarterback, Peyton Manning.
The Half Time Show was huge. The headline act was Coldplay, with performances also Beyoncé, Bruno Mars and Mark Ronson on the decks. “Viva La Vida” kicked things off, followed by “Paradise;” before Mars rocked out to “Uptown Funk” and Beyonce performed “Formation”. It culminated in a version of “Fix You” which revisited some of the iconic Super Bowl performances over the previous 49 years. Watch the full Half Time Show:
The capacity of Levi’s Stadium is 68,500 and for the big game, there was 71,088 in attendance thanks to extra capacity - it can go as high as 75,000, however extra corporate and media facilities replaced potential temporary grandstands that can be used. The stadium, opened in July 2014 at a cost of $1.3 billion, is thought to be one of the most expensive stadiums ever built when using the 'cost per seat' method. The venue features excellent sightlines, architecture, amenities and technology.
A trip to the USA wouldn’t be complete without attending an NBA game, and a trip to downtown Oakland to Oracle Arena to watch the all-conquering Golden State Warriors take on the Oklahoma City Thunder in the days leading up to the Super Bowl to wet the appetite was an amazing experience.
Oracle is one of the oldest arenas in the NBA and is set to be replaced by the Chase Centre in downtown San Francisco, with construction due to commence in 2017. The current facility has a modest capacity of around 18,000 but is always packed out given the Warriors success.
Its age is evident with access both outside and inside poor, with narrow walkways, and average amenities. Still, the atmosphere was fantastic, and the Warriors got the win. A great experience!
Last but not least, a trip followed to AT&T Park – home of the San Francisco Giants, and a special comprehensive guided tour of the facility. Unfortunately, no MLB on as it’s the off-season, but it was still great to see a wonderful facility which is located right by the water. There's something about baseball stadiums that sets them apart from your standard sports stadium.
A great way to wrap up the tour of San Francisco and the Bay Area. Definitely recommend a USA trip for any sports fan and if there is an opportunity to attend a Super Bowl - do it!