Santa Clara County decides no audiences allowed at Levi’s Stadium

Football fans hoping to see the 49ers in person won't be able to just yet. On Tuesday, leaders in Santa Clara County said they are not going to follow the state’s new guidance for stadiums.

Under the state guidelines, the Niners could potentially host 14,000 fans at Levi’s Stadium but the county's directive supersedes the state’s. A local tourism expert said eight businesses along Great American Parkway offered game day promotions before.

Artificial crowd noise can be heard at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara during the 49ers win over the Rams. It’s a sound that won’t be going away.

“I think Santa Clara County has been pretty strict,” said Walter Coy of San Jose. “I’d like to see a lot more opened up. I’d like for us to be able to go to games for sure.”

State health leaders announced professional sporting events can reopen at a limited capacity for counties in the orange or yellow tiers. Santa Clara County remained cautious.

“No question this is dangerous, this is the worst thing in the world to be doing at a time period when California is beginning to see some light,” said Santa Clara County Executive Jeff Smith. “This amounts to another step backwards.”

Santa Clara County is in the orange tier. The county executive called sporting events Covid super-spreaders that could bring out-of-towners with the virus into the county.

The 49ers praised Governor Newsom and said, “Our organization will continue to collaborate with local public health officials to implement a plan that protects the health and wellness of the 49ers and Levi’s Stadium employees, patrons and our community.”

“We’ve seen a drastic dip in numbers because people haven't been able to enjoy the game at Levi’s Stadium,” said Jessica Kapoor, Pedro’s Cantina Operations Manager.

Pedro’s Cantina is two miles away from Levi’s Stadium. The restaurant has seen Sunday brunch sales drop 50 percent.

David Andre, who spent nearly 30 years promoting tourism in Santa Clara, said it’s not just restaurants but hotels hurting, because the hotels hosted fans for the weekend and offered tailgate parties.

“Nothing is more lucrative from an economic standpoint for these businesses than on a game day,” said Andre.

Greg Thiebaut, a 49ers season ticket holder understands the crippling effect of Covid. However, he prefers watching games away from the stadium for now.

“I tend to agree with the county,” said Thiebaut. “They are trying to say let’s keep it as it is for now, let’s try to keep it down and not let people get more infected.”

The San Jose Earthquakes also said the team will work with Major League Soccer and local health officials for a plan to welcome back fans.

As for college athletics, county guidelines permit practices and play to resume but without fans. San Jose State is not allowing spectators at its season football home opener this Saturday.