The Denver Broncos will use the 49ers’ plush, walnut-lined, 3,600 square-foot locker room for the Super Bowl, which makes sense because they are the designated home team.
What will be different for fans accustomed to watching 49ers games is that the Broncos will use the east or “sunny” side of the field.
That was the initial plan for the 49ers.
In fact, when the stadium was being built, the idea was for the 49ers to enter the field via the fancy club on the east side of the stadium – like the Cowboys do in their stadium – and then spend games on that side of the field.
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Then-coach Jim Harbaugh, however, wanted the visitors on the warmer side of the field where they would also have to deal with the glare of the setting sun. When the 2014 season began, he chose to line up on the shadier, cooler west side of the stadium where his successor, Jim Tomsula, also had the 49ers encamped for the 2015 season.
So even though the Broncos have the “home” locker room, the Panthers will get the “home” sideline.
Heat and glare are unlikely to be issues for Denver. The long-term forecast calls for partly cloudy skies and temperatures in the mid-60s at kickoff. And even if the sun is out on Super Bowl Sunday, it quickly will drop behind the Santa Cruz Mountains.
Room for two – Levi’s Stadium is designed to have two main tenants, and there is space for a second, deluxe locker room. But as of now, it’s merely a space that’s used for storage and will be converted into a postgame interview room for the Super Bowl.
The Panthers will be in the normal visitors’ locker room. It’s not nearly as nice as the home locker room, which includes 20-foot high ceilings, a sound system and an array of flat-screen televisions. The visitors’ locker room’s ceilings are 10-feet high and are painted a dark gray.
But it’s also a brand new stadium. And the space is infinitely nicer and roomier than, say, the 49ers’ home locker room at Candlestick Park.
The bigger, the better – When the Bay Area was competing to host the 50th Super Bowl, one criterion was that the venue had to have at least 70,000 seats. Levi’s Stadium was built with 68,500 seats, and the plan was to build extra seating in the plaza areas on the northwest and southwest portions of the stadium to get the maximum number of fans into the game.
That plan, however, has changed.
Eric Finkelstein, the NFL’s director of events, said the league has relaxed that requirement for new venues. The 49ers also recently built more seats into spaces that previously had served as standing-room area, which has pushed the total seating closer to 70,000.
Structures are being built onto the plazas. They will be used to hold media – mainly foreign media – who are broadcasting the game. Last year, approximately 5,428 media members were credentialed. The NFL won’t have a number for this year’s event until next week.
Et cetera – Why are the Broncos the home team? It rotates each year. The AFC champion is the home team in even-numbered Super Bowls. They have chosen to wear white uniforms while the Panthers will wear black.
▪ The Broncos were the first visiting team to play at Levi’s Stadium. They played a preseason game there on Aug. 17, 2014, and won 34-0. The Panthers have not played at Levi’s.