by Daisy Barringer
As I sat in traffic waiting to exit the Levi’s Stadium parking lot last night after the 49ers 22-17 win over the Chiefs, I couldn’t help but think of Hans Christian Andersen’s tale “The Emperor’s New Clothes.” The story is about an Emperor who only cares about wearing the finest new clothes and hires two men who promise to make him the finest suit he’s ever owned made of a cloth that has “a wonderful way of becoming invisible to anyone who is unfit for his position or unusually stupid.”
You know how the rest of the story goes The Emperor pays the men large sums of money and they set about pretending to sew him a new suit. Everyone, fearing his position, pretends he can see the garment and raves about how beautiful it is. Finally, the suit is “finished” and the Emperor parades it in front of the entire town who ooh and ahh about how fine his clothing is until finally, a child yells for everyone to hear, “But he hasn’t got anything on!”
When I handed over thousands and thousands of dollars for seats at the new stadium, I did so because I was promised something amazing and extravagant: a football experience like no other. I had no proof this would be the case, but, like the Emperor, I naively trusted the men who promised if I just gave them the cash, they would make it happen.
I’ve been to three regular season games at Levi’s Stadium now. There have been long lines, terrible food, an overly-crowded concourse, and even an usher who, when I complained about a man who was swearing at me, told me “Domestic violence has been around for hundreds of years and it’s not going anywhere.” But despite all of that, it was only during yesterday’s game, when it was so unbearably hot that the fans could barely sit in their seats much less cheer on the team, that it finally hit me:
I’m the Emperor. Levi’s Stadium is the clothing. And sadly, Jed York and the 49ers organization are the swindlers.
There’s no way to describe what it was like sitting in the direct sunlight during yesterday’s game because as my friend who came with me said, “I believed you about the heat, but there was no way of actually comprehending it until I was here.” Still: I will try.
Sweat dripping down my entire body within seconds of taking my seat. Sweat rolling down my friend’s face so that her glasses wouldn’t stay on. Heat so intense that there was no way one could muster up the energy to stand on third downs. I couldn’t even high five after any of the eight bajillion Phil Dawson field goals because expending any kind of excessive energy was just not an option.
With seven minutes left in the first half, I was actually looking forward to halftime just so I could escape the heat. (Temps were in the low 90s, but in the direct sunlight, I promise it felt more like 110.) That’s right: I just admitted that I was hoping the football part of my experience would end faster so that I could go stand in the shade. I wasn’t alone as the entire stadium rushed to the concourse as the second quarter ended just to get a little relief.
I beelined it for the bathroom where I soaked my hat in water before putting it back on my head and splashed water on my face, neck, and sweat-soaked shirt. When the third quarter started, I said to my friend, “Just a few more minutes.” This from a girl who gets mad if she misses the player announcements. It was so hot that my brain stopped functioning. I just wanted NEEDED to cool off.
Still need more proof? I ate a Cesar salad. At a football game. I could have had chicken fingers or a hot dog or a hamburger or French fries or pizza, but it was so hot, I ate a salad. NOW do you believe me?
Certainly it is true that the heat yesterday was extreme. But it was just as hot in August during the pre-season games. And the Bay Area is hottest during September and October (half of football season). So, I’ll say it: The 49ers screwed up. They made a huge mistake building a stadium in a town that gets really, really hot, and not creating any shade structures. They may have built a stadium that is big and beautiful, but if no one wants to sit in his seats and root for his team, who cares if the whole thing cost $1.3 billion?
Driving out of the parking lot, the air conditioning at full blast, I was finally the innocent child who could see the Emperor’s Clothing for what it was: a total sham. Unfortunately, for me, the swindlers already disappeared with my money.
The good news is that despite the heat, the 49ers beat the Chiefs and are now 3-2 for the season, which, if they keep it up will make it easier to sell my Stadium Builders License at the end of the season. Also it’s good because despite the fact that every time I stood up yesterday, I got tunnel vision and almost fainted, I still LOVE the Niners. It’s not their fault the owners don’t think about the fans and have pretty much ensured a better game experience from the comfort of one’s couch.
Game highlights (since that’s why you’re really here) included Frank Gore (18 carries, 107 yards), Phil Dawson (field goals of 31, 55, 52, 27, and 30), Brandon Lloyd and his crazy leaping catch for a critical first down in the 4th, Perrish Cox with his game-ending interception for the second week in a row), the defense (especially in the second half), and special teams with that awesome fake punt that got the Niners the first down, kept the drive alive, and would have been a total disaster if it hadn’t worked.
It was also nice to see Jed York address the rumors that Jim Harbaugh is out as the head coach after this season tweeting, “Jim is my coach. We are trying to win a SB, not a personality or popularity contest. Any more questions?” Who knows what is really happening with Harbaugh behind closed doors, but I’m choosing to believe York and trust that the Niners support their coach and the players like to play for him. (I’m sorry, but Perrish Cox wouldn’t have celebrated his INT against the Eagles but running up to Harbaugh and hugging him if he HATED Harbaugh. That’s not how happiness works.)
So yeah, the Niners are 3-2. There’s still a lot more football to play, but next up are the St. Louis Rams at home, so I think it’s safe to say we’re going to go 4-2. I can’t wait to watch that game while sitting on a stool in a dark bar. Am I being a whiner? Sure. Until you’ve sat in my seats though, you just have to trust me. Lucky for everyone involved, I don’t have to go back to Levi’s Stadium until November. Hopefully by then, the weather and I will have both cooled off.