49ers home opener set for Sunday; fans excited, but rain possible

Fans are excited about the 49ers home opener which is set for Sunday at Levi’s Stadium.  Not only does it mean a return to football here in the Bay Area it also brings plenty of money into the local economy. The arch-rival Seattle Seahawks are coming to town but this year without their former star quarterback Russell Wilson.  The division rivalry brings some extra excitement to the game this weekend but fans say they are just glad to have a return to football. 

On Friday afternoon, new starting quarterback Trey Lance and the San Francisco 49ers worked out on the team’s practice field -- the last time the team will be seen by the public before Sunday’s game. Backup QB Jimmy Garoppolo was also practicing along with tight end George Kittle who is still listed as ‘questionable’ for Sunday’s game. 

Head coach Kyle Shanahan says it makes a huge difference when you finally get to play at home in front of your fans.  "You always choose the crowd and being in your own stadium because that is such a big factor. The crowd noise and football – not that I major in any other sports – but I just don’t get how other sports it can be as big as an advantage," Shanahan said. 

Throughout the day many fans came to the team store to buy merchandise including preparing for a possible soggy and rainy Sunday.  "I got a nice back hoodie just in case it rains on Sunday, you know ," said fan Randy Zegarra.  Zegarra said he will be here rain or shine.  "It is very exciting especially out here. The fans tailgating and everything. It is very exciting. Everyone is pumped to be in the parking lot before the gates open," Zegarra said. 

Other fans, both adults and kids, feel the same way.  "When there is a home game can you feel the buzz? Of course we can really hear the crowd. And all of the people are just excited," said Jennifer De Los Santos, a Santa Clara resident who lives near the stadium.

One boy came  from Oakland with this mother to buy tickets to a future game and  had to recently change his team allegiance. "And then the Raiders left, so I was sad for a little bit until I found the 49ers and now I am happy with the 49ers," said M.J. Cerrantes, who is 7 years old. 

Games are also big business for the local community. "So that helps the hoteliers, the restaurateurs, the retail --- everything that is going on in Santa Clara County," said Christian D. Malesic, who is the CEO of the Silicon Valley Central Chamber of Commerce.  Malesic said having a pro-sports team is yet another form of economic diversification in our tech-heavy region, and also benefits the entire community in ways that most fans may never think about. "Every single game drives money not only into the business coffers – but also into the City of Santa Clara’s tax coffers because of parking fees and their arrangement with the stadium and the NFL team not to mention all of the sales taxes and the gas taxes and all of that which comes into play with tourists coming into our town," Malesic said. 

The VTA usually brings about 10 percent of the fans to the home games and will have extra light rail service running for the game on Sunday. The extra service begins at ten and will run for an hour after the end of the game. 

More details from the VTA:
Light Rail – Great America light rail station (in front of Levi’s Stadium)

VTA will operate nine extra trains for the 49ers game, in addition to regular service Sunday. Extra service to the stadium will run from Mountain View Transit Center (which connects with Caltrain), Diridon Station downtown, and Santa Teresa light rail station. Extra service starts just after 10 am, post event service will run up to an hour after the end of the game.

Bus Service – VTA will operate its regular Sunday service on Lines 55, 57 & 59, which serve the stadium.

In addition, VTA will provide standby buses at both Mountain View Caltrain and Milpitas BART to supplement light rail if needed, starting at 10:30 a.m.

The last bus on each line will leave one hour after the end of the event.

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