You might expect a major new sports stadium built in Silicon Valley to be super cutting edge – and you'd be right. The newly-built Levi's Stadium is home to the San Francisco 49ers. It seats 68,500 people and is one of the most technologically and environmentally innovative stadiums in the world.
Modern stadiums are becoming increasingly advanced. Just down the road from the Levi's Stadium, the AT&T Park, home of the San Francisco Giants baseball team, recently had iBeacon technology installed to provide greater connectivity to fans using Bluetooth-enabled Apple iOS7 devices. The planned Minnesota Vikings stadium, meanwhile, will boast what is claimed to be the largest transparent roof in the world.
The HNTB-designed Levi's Stadium, however, is dealing in more wholesale levels of innovation. The stadium is being hailed as "a showcase for innovation in the Silicon Valley through partnerships with local, national and international technology providers."
To begin, fans benefit from what is thought to be the biggest Wi-Fi bandwidth capacity of any US stadium, made possible by 70 m (113 km) of cabling for the Wi-Fi alone. Over 1,200 access points allow devices to connect to a backbone of 40 Gb/s, which is free to use and scalable to event attendance.
The stadium features 13 cameras for its in-house broadcasting. This compares favorably to the 4-6 cameras said to be present in most NFL stadiums, and the video feeds are able to provide at least six different angles for replays. The video feeds produced by the in-house production team can also be shared with broadcasting TV networks to augment their own cameras.
In addition to the in-house broadcasting production, on-field action of the 49ers games will be captured using 10 4K Sony F55 cameras. The footage captured will not be used for real-time broadcasting, but for future use, such as in adverts or match recordings.
Each end of the stadium is equipped with a video board. The two boards measure 200 x 48 ft (61 x 15 m) and have sharp LED screens that can be split into sections to show multiple pieces of content. A further 2,000 screens around the stadium are connected to its IPTV system and can show menu boards, game broadcasts, statistics and visitor information.
Visitors to the stadium are also able to make use of a mobile app that offers a number of functionalities. Tickets can be bought via the app and it provides turn-by-turn wayfinding to help visitors navigate around the stadium, with waiting times provided for restrooms and concession stands. Visitors can order food and drinks from their seat using the app, either for collection from an express window or to be delivered to their seat for a US$5 fee.
As well as having a variety of high-tech features to improve the fan experience, the stadium has been built to LEED Gold certification standard for New Construction. The certification recognizes a high level of environmental good practice in the design and construction of the stadium.
According to the San Francisco 49ers, the stadium is designed to generate more electricity annually than is consumed during the 10 scheduled 49ers games each season. A total of 1,162 photovoltaic panels are installed throughout the stadium, some of which are located on three solar bridges.
A solar canopy is also installed on the green roof that is situated on top of the stadium’s Suite Tower. The green roof features 16 species of vegetation native to the Bay Area and helps to regulate the temperature of the internal building.
Inside the stadium, low-flow fixtures are used for toilets, urinals and sinks, which are said to reduce water usage by 40 percent. It is claimed that up to 85 percent of water used in the stadium will be recycled and used for watering the green roof and playing field, for toilet flushes, and the cooling tower. The playing field itself uses Bermuda Bandera turf grass, which is said to need up to 50 percent less water than the average turf variety in the Bay Area.
For travel to and from the stadium, access to public transport is provided, as well as spaces for bicycle parking and facilities for charging electric vehicles. There is also a walking path to the stadium.
The stadium features a host of programs aimed at ensuring sustainable and environmentally-friendly operations. Amongst them is a waste management and recycling program, an energy usage and benchmarking program, a preventative maintenance program and a green cleaning program.
The 49ers have already played a pre-season game at the Levi's Stadium and will play their first regular season game there against the Chicago Bears on September 14.