Levi's Stadium to welcome 49ers fans, but with new COVID measures

For the first time since January of 2020, Levi's Stadium will open its doors to 49ers fans on Saturday.

They are hosting a crowd of about 20,000 for an open practice and there will be a few changes due to COVID.

The stadium has stepped up its cleaning protocol, switched to cashless concessions, and is expecting fans to wear masks when indoors.

They are also hoping everyone will be patient, since we are all a bit rusty when it comes to big events. 

At Levi's Stadium, the anticipation is building. It can be seen in the team store and in the newly reopened 49ers Museum.

"It's just been a lot of smiles, a lot of... you can just feel the excitement coming off of people," said Jesse Lovejoy, director of the 49ers Museum.

Excitement because football is back. For the first time since January 2020, Levi's Stadium will open its doors to the 49er Faithful.

"We've missed the fans. We've missed the energy. Sitting in an empty stadium watching a game isn't really the greatest experience I can tell you," said Jim Mercurio, Exec VP and GM of Levi's Stadium.

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The stands will be partially filled on Saturday. The stadium's full-seating capacity is about 68,000. 

They will watch a practice, get concessions, and hopefully get along.

"It has been a while since groups of people have kind of engaged with one another. So I'm going to ask you to do what mom and dad kind of told us, which was ‘be kind, be considerate, be patient,’" said Mercurio.

There would be changes to navigate, masks required in indoor areas, new automated turnstiles, and new cashless concessions.

Fans said they can't wait. Cory Frentsos, aka Captain Faithful, said watching games in his themed man cave just is not the same.

"It's nice to have friends come over and watch the game and hoot and holler and all that stuff. But nothing is like being at the actual game," said Frentsos.

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In fact, fans said they even miss the tedious parts of a day at the stadium.

"Even sitting through traffic, you miss that little stuff. Waiting in line for concessions, bathrooms, all that good stuff. I miss it all, even the messy stuff," said Brian Nitenson of Daly City.

Saturday's event is just an open practice, although a big one. It is also Dwight Clark Day and will honor the 49er great.

"I'm hoping it's going to get the players fired up to have the fans there and have them win some games and feel good and show off and show their talent," said Paul Frentsos of San Francisco.

Fans said they are hopeful this is the beginning of a great season, one that COVID will not put a damper on.

"Everybody's getting their shots so let's hope so," said Steve Nitenson.

The open practice inside Levi's Stadium goes from 10 until noon on Saturday. Tickets are still available and are $10. The 49ers' first preseason game against the Chiefs is Saturday the 14th.