The foghorn sounded just like it would in any other game at Levi’s Stadium on Sunday and the crowd seemed to roar when Raheem Mostert ran the ball 76-yards for the first touchdown of the game, but inside the stadium and in the adjacent parking lots, it was virtually empty.
For the first time in team history, the 49ers started their season without a crowd. Fewer than 1,000 people were inside Levi’s Stadium to witness the 49ers lose their season opener 20-24 to the Arizona Cardinals and most of the people inside were players and coaches.
The 49ers say there were some food service staff members, elevator operators, security and members of the media in the stadium on Sunday, but that’s it. No fans were allowed inside and they won’t be until Santa Clara County enters Phase Four of the state’s COVID-19 reopening plan. That’s expected to happen months from now.
To make sure fans stayed outside, there was security around the perimeter of Levi’s Stadium. Tasman Drive was closed to traffic and the portion of the San Tomas Aquino Creek Trail that travels past Levi’s Stadium was also closed.
Santa Clara police officers were also outside the stadium, stationed at entrance points and patrolling the area to make sure that fans didn’t gather and that nothing went wrong.
Santa Clara Police Department (SCPD) Lieutenant Saskia Lagergren says while there were fewer police personnel on hand on Sunday than there would be for a typical game day, there was still a police presence. She says any time a facility the size of Levi’s Stadium is open for an event, public safety personnel need to be there to make sure no one unauthorized enters.
“The Police Department is committed to providing a safe venue for entertainers, athletes, coaching staff, officials, stadium employees, as well as residents and businesses in the surrounding area,” said Lagergren. “The safety measures implemented [Sunday] were carefully considered to balance the security of the facility with the impacts to our community, and will be re-evaluated following this experience.”
Fans seemed to understand the need to stay away. The 49ers say there were no incidents inside Levi’s Stadium on game day.
Lagergren says Sunday’s stadium event did not result in any arrests. There was one complaint about potential illegal activity in a park adjacent to Levi’s Stadium, but the matter was resolved without citation.
The 49ers will play two games on the road before returning to Levi’s Stadium to host the Philadelphia Eagles on Oct. 4. It will be the start of a three-game homestand that includes a visit from the Miami Dolphins on Oct. 11 and the Los Angeles Rams on Oct. 18. Fans are not expected to be able to attend any of those games.