SANTA CLARA -- Are you ready for some Monday Night Football, Silicon Valley? Not so fast.
All of the San Francisco 49ers home games will be on Sundays next year when the team moves to its new Levi's Stadium in Santa Clara, sources close to the stadium project say.
Although boosters may have wanted to show off the NFL's latest $1.3 billion sports palace on ESPN on a Monday night, local officials say they were concerned that nearly 70,000 fans would jam freeways, local streets and parking lots on weekdays. Local Monday Night Football games kick off around 5:40 p.m. -- smack dab in the middle of rush hour.
Stadium backers are hoping to debut the 49ers new home on the NFL's other big weekly football showcase, NBC's Sunday Night Football. The league, which likes to show off its newest home fields on grand stages, committed $200 million in financing to the new stadium and is playing the 50th Super Bowl in Santa Clara in 2016.
Once local officials have a season to work out the kinks of the traffic, parking and public safety plans at the new stadium, the 49ers are expected to ask for Monday Night Football games in 2015 and beyond.
The Niners have been scheduled to the NFL-maximum of five prime time games per season in recent years and play their final game at Candlestick Park, against the Atlanta Falcons, on Monday night, Dec. 23.
Every team plays once each season on Thursday Night Football. With the weekday ban at Levi's Stadium next year, the 49ers will play its Thursday night game on the road. But that still leaves as many as four more potential Monday and Sunday night games -- or more if the team is "flexed" into a Sunday-night game late in the season.
Playing on Monday night on the road means less time to prepare for the following week's game. The Niners will have to endure that schedule this week as they play the Washington Redskins on the road Monday night before traveling back across the country to play the St. Louis Rams at home on Sunday afternoon the following week.
The 49ers will travel 32,948 miles this year -- tops in the NFL.
Contact Mike Rosenberg at 408-920-5705. Follow him at Twitter.com/rosenbergmerc.