SANTA CLARA -- Man-made or natural, the challenges that have dogged newly minted Levi's Stadium all but disappeared Sunday afternoon. The local trains ran on time and plenty of sunscreen lotion, big hats and a cool breeze kept the legions of football fans happy.
"We read all about the heat at last week's game, so we made sure we came prepared," said Anselmo Ontiveros, of Fremont. He and his wife, Rocio, wore long shirts, pants and hats and carried enough water in bottles to endure the heat from the direct sunlight on the upper concourse. "If you know you're going to be sitting in the sun for three to four hours, you need to use some common sense."
Traffic to and from the preseason game between the San Francisco 49ers and San Diego Chargers appeared to run smoothly, too. Sunday morning's earthquake in Napa apparently had little or no effect on traffic after transportation authorities canceled rail service from the Sacramento area. Stadium officials said they gave the brand-new $1.3 billion gridiron palace a thorough, structural inspection well before the gates opened.
"Building engineers have walked the entire stadium," said Niner spokesman Bob Lange, "and we have had no reported damage."
Lange added that ACE and Capitol Corridor trains usually carry about 1,200 fans to the football games. All tracks within 100 miles of Napa were shut down after the quake. It wasn't clear how many of those fans were forced to drive in for the game. Caltrain and VTA trains ran their usual Sunday schedule.
As for driving, Lorraine Castillo and Maria Cortinas said their route from Mountain View to the stadium was smooth sailing.
"It was pretty well-organized," Castillo said during halftime. "Santa Clara deserves plenty of credit for getting everybody out here. They took advice. They listened. They took heed."
Frustratingly long traffic and train lines -- the biggest concerns for fans after the transportation snafus before and after the stadium's debut in early August -- had mostly diminished. So had long lines for food, snacks and beverages. But still, the true test of Levi's fan-friendliness awaits the rigors of the regular season.
Sunday's game was a preseason, practice tilt. It appeared that by halftime, half the fans had left their seats to either head home or to hang out on the festive, sun-drenched patios. Fans tend to stay longer or until the very end of official games and then pour out of stadiums at the same time.
On Sunday, Mother Nature gave team officials a major break when a cool breeze off the Pacific kept the temperature in the low to mid-70s. Even so, fans came prepared with sunscreen lotion and hats playing like umbrellas.
Sam Reichner wore a conical, bamboo Vietnamese hat commonly used by rice-field workers in his ancestral country. The 19-year-old West Valley College student was adopted.
"I had it at home and knew that it was going to be sunny today," he said.
Santa Clara Fire Department paramedics wheeled away one elderly man from the upper concourse before game time, but it was unclear whether his condition was heat-related. Medical stations at the stadium did not look to be as busy as they were at last week's game.
The temporary sod on the field looked brittle and dry but it held up well enough. The team had replaced the original turf last week after it had been cleated to bits in last week's football game.
"There are a lot smarter people out there than me that can tell you about the quality of the grass itself," 49ers kicker Phil Dawson said after the game. "I'm just amazed it was that playable given that it was put in on Thursday."
Even so, the sod was just a temporary fix. The thick grass wasn't the type to sink deep roots and last a full season. Team officials told sports reporters after the game they will look at two different types of permanent sod this week to put in place for the team's first true test in three weeks.
Contact Joe Rodriguez at 408-920-5767. Follow him at Twitter.com/joerodmercury.