SANTA CLARA -- The Earthquakes -- not the 49ers -- will play the first-ever game at the new Levi's Stadium next year.
The Santa Clara Stadium Authority announced Thursday the Quakes will play host to the Seattle Sounders in a Major League Soccer game Aug. 2 to christen the 49ers' new digs.
The decision to open the stadium before the 2014 NFL exhibition season suits 49ers officials just fine.
"It is ideal," said Paraag Marathe, the team's chief operating officer. "With the stadium opening at the end of July, we want to get right after that."
The soccer game gives the 49ers a chance to have a dry run before the NFL season kicks off. Marathe likes the idea that stadium crew might deal with a crowd of
The 49ers also liked the fact San Jose would be facing one of its biggest rivals in the Sounders.
"It is sort of fitting from the 49ers perspective because we've got a little Bay Area rivalry with the Seahawks," Marathe said of another team from Seattle.
The Quakes want to make Levi's a regular event although their new 18,000-seat stadium in San Jose is scheduled to open in 2015. But they also know the Sounders game next year will be special.
"To play the first event there will go down in Bay Area history," club president Dave Kaval said. "We've shown we can draw a big crowd. We have the opportunity to fill that stadium."
It won't be the first time a soccer game opened a new NFL stadium. In 2003, Manchester United played FC Barcelona to christen the Philadelphia Eagles' Lincoln Financial Field.
Marathe emphasized the 68,500-seat facility isn't being built just for the 49ers. The city-owned stadium hopes to attract music events, festivals and international soccer games featuring the U.S. men's and women's national teams.
"There is a lot of interest to find a place for the U.S. men to play here," Kaval said. "We can be a part of that."