The panoramic shots during Sunday’s telecast may have been of San Francisco, but Levi’s Stadium emerged from Super Bowl 50 looking pretty good, too.
Law enforcement reported no major incidents, travel hassles were considered mild, and though fans in the sun-roasted east stands might disagree, the temperature was a pleasant 76 degrees at kickoff.
The biggest issue remained Levi’s notorious grass surface, which has given the 49ers fits since it was installed for the inaugural 2014 season. Those problems were supposed to have been eliminated when the NFL and its experienced crew of groundskeepers took over last month and installed a new field. The fresh sod, hybrid Bermuda over-seeded with ryegrass for color, starting being unrolled Jan. 11, and aside from halftime rehearsals, no events were held there until Sunday, when the Denver Broncos beat the Carolina Panthers 24-10.
Still, the same issues that have plagued 49ers games and practices – chunks of grass coming up and players sliding on the surface – occurred early Sunday, and several players switched to longer cleats by halftime.
“The footing on the field was terrible,” Broncos cornerback Aqib Talib told the Associated Press. “San Fran has to play eight games on that field, so they better do something to get it fixed.”
Other reviews were mixed.
Broncos kicker Brandon McManus, who made all three of his field-goal attempts, said the footing was “pretty good.” Super Bowl MVP Von Miller noted the field was fast when he and his Broncos teammates went through a walkthrough Saturday.
But he and others opted for longer spikes and better traction after the game began. “As the game went on, I just needed a little more support,” he said.
Panthers coach Ron Rivera was asked if there were problems with the playing surface.
“No, no. We didn’t have any issues with the field,” he said. “As far as I’m concerned, to try to blame the field is kind of a cop-out. The truth of the matter is we both played on the surface. The surface was outstanding. I thought everything about this week was terrific. I thought the league and the communities of Santa Clara, San Jose and San Francisco were tremendous in terms of the way the Super Bowl went off.”
As far exiting the stadium, 95 percent of the announced crowd of 71,088 cleared the area 45 minutes after the game, according to stadium officials.
A little more than 9,600 cars parked in the area, and there were 587 regular buses, 253 mini-buses and 133 limousines. The Valley Transit Authority said about 10,000 people used light rail, which has two stops near the stadium. Capitol Corridor reported about 900 riders used the train to get to the game, a weekend ridership record for the service.
Frank and Marie Williams used Caltrain and VTA to reach the stadium from their Mountain View home eight miles away.
“We’re just loving all of this,” said Marie, 48, who wore a Joe Montana jersey. “It’s our first Super Bowl and it’ll be our last, unless it comes back here. We were very impressed with all of it. I’m not big into Beyoncé, but that was a great show.”
Said Frank, 52: “It looks like this was a big success for all of the Bay Area. I’ll be curious to see how much revenue the region made with tourism and such. Our tickets cost a ton, but you live once, and the Super Bowl comes to your back yard once. That’s why we’re here.”
CBS estimated its telecast drew 111.9 million viewers, fewer than either of the last two Super Bowls but still the third most of any program in U.S. television history. The champion in that category is last year’s game between the New England Patriots and Seattle Seahawks that went down to the wire.
Will the Super Bowl return to Northern California?
Houston will host next year’s game, and Minneapolis, which is building a domed stadium, will be the site in 2018. The new home of the Los Angeles Rams is expected to open for the 2019 season, which means they are eligible to host the following season’s Super Bowl.
Matt Barrows: @mattbarrows, read more about the team at sacbee.com/sf49ers. The Bee’s Joe Davidson contributed to this report.