SANTA CLARA -- We have concluded the last football rites for Candlestick Park, assuming the 49ers don't luck into a home playoff game. I'm assuming they won't.
This could be wishful thinking, after my farewell view of Candlestick, two hours after Monday night's game. I was walking to my car. Trash fires burned across the litter-filled parking lot. Cold dampness oozed off the bay. Seagulls polluted the asphalt. Traffic was still backed up on Jamestown Avenue, waiting to enter the freeway. And this was my thought:
The best of riddance, you old hunk of concrete garbage. Next year, I will miss none of this.
Others were surely riding my same brain wave. But my guess is, those others were also wondering what it'll be like to attend a game when Levi's Stadium opens for the 2014 season.
I'll make a stab at painting a picture. At least the one I envision.
Everything won't be perfect right out of the gate. New venues always have glitches. But based on my construction tours and interviews over the past two years, I'm confident all those fans who have forked over money for season tickets -- and, yes, despite the high prices, almost all of them have been sold -- will have a delightfully smoother game-day experience than they did at Candlestick.
It's funny to me how most of the conversation about Levi's Stadium has focused more on the venue's location rather than what watching an event inside the stadium will be like.
I guess that focus is natural, considering many 49ers fans north of the San Mateo Bridge tend to think of Santa Clara as outback territory because they seldom venture that far south.
Those fans will be pleasantly surprised to learn (A) the freeways run both ways, and (B) there will be 11 freeway interchanges to access the stadium area, roughly three times as many as Candlestick. There are also public rail options.
So let's assume the fans arrive and enter the stadium gates without incident. Their first surprise will be how easy it is to navigate the concourses and reach their seats. Those concourses are 43 feet wider than the ones at Candlestick. There's even an outer concourse that encircles the stadium so fans can take an "express route" to the other side of the facility -- and avoid the main concourse with concession or restroom lines.
And about those restrooms. Levi's Stadium will have 28 percent more plumbing fixtures than Candlestick, which amounts to 250 more toilets. Meanwhile, even as construction has proceeded, the 49ers have set up one prototype concession stand in the lower bowl, to ferret out any potential bugs before the other stands are built. If all goes correctly, fans with smartphones will punch in their food orders and specify the stand where they'll pick up their hot dogs and beer without a wait.
The biggest revelation, however, will occur at kickoff time: Even though Levi's Stadium will have about 1,000 fewer seats than Candlestick, it will be much louder. During a tour earlier this year, project co-director Robert Rayborn pointed out something that I had not even considered.
"It's going to be really loud in here," said Rayborn, who works for Turner/Devcon construction. "Really loud. Really, really loud."
Then he explained why. The stadium's design is different from most football stadiums.
The vast majority of luxury boxes are located in an eight-level tower -- essentially, a 12-story building -- on the west side of the field. That means two things: One, there are no upper decks on the west side, just the lower bowl and the tower. And two, the east side upper decks can be closer to the ground -- because it does not sit atop multiple levels of luxury boxes.
Perhaps that's a bit too architectural-geeky. But the practical ramification is this: All of those fans on the east side of the stadium (who are closer to the field than at Candlestick) will scream noise toward the field and the west side of the stadium. And when that noise hits the large flat side of the tower, the noise will immediately bounce right back toward the field.
Jed York, the 49ers CEO and stadium overseer, agrees the net effect should be a cacophony of howling.
"It should be louder than Candlestick, for the reasons you point out," York said. "I don't know how loud it will get, though."
My prediction: As loud as Seattle or Kansas City, the NFL's two loudest outdoor stadiums. And I'm not even accounting for how loud the 49ers will decide to crank up the stadium sound system with new state-of-the-art speakers. In Seattle, as ordered up by rock fan owner Paul Allen, the tweeters and woofers are deafening.
Other stuff remains unpredictable. Will the wind swirl or blow steady? Will the sun blind receivers running toward the north end zone who turn back to look at the ball? Will a new and more corporate fan base fill the seats? It'll be fascinating to watch it all unfold. Just know this: In every way, the scene will be better than at Candlestick.
Except maybe with the seagulls. You can't force them to buy seat licenses. Or clean up after their tailgate.
Contact Mark Purdy at email@example.com.