Around 45,000 tickets have been sold for the Earthquakes-Soudners match Saturday, which will be the inaugural sporting event at Levi's Stadium in Santa Clara, soon to be the new home of the NFL San Francisco 49ers.
Here's some of what Quakes president Dave Kaval had to say today:
How this game was scheduled there: I have a close personal relationship with Paraag Marathe, who is president of the 49ers. We went to school together at Stanford. We got to talking about how Levi’s Stadium would need an actual break-in game: not a game with a full 68,000. And we thought that a San Jose Earthquakes game would be a perfect way to have a large crowd, but not a capacity crowd, to kick off the stadium and ensure that everything was going to go well. That was probably at least a year ago that we originally had that conversation. And so we decided to move one match there to inaugurate the stadium and have the first event.
On ticket sales: They’re going great. I think they’re at 45,000. We’re only selling a couple of more thousand tickets because we all agreed being the first event we didn’t want to sell the whole stadium – that was kind of the reason to do it. So the upper deck is not open. Basically, I think the maximum we can put in is 48 or 47 (thousand), something like that. So it will be a sellout in terms of all the tickets we could sell, which obviously is a pretty exciting thing.On if Quakes ever considered sparing permanent home with 49ers rather than building their own soccer-specific stadium that will open next season: Not really. We always felt that for the long-term success of our club and soccer in the Bay Area that we needed a stadium 18-20,000 to create our own unique fan experience like what you see in Portland or even in Seattle and some of these others. We felt that was really an important piece of the puzzle, so we were committed to our own privately financed stadium. But over the past three or four years we have had a strategy to play these massive games … we’ve had 25,000 at AT&T Park, we’ve played four years in a row at Stanford and sold that out at 50,000 three years in a row. We’re going to have practically 50,000 this coming weekend at Levi’s Stadium. I think what you see in the Bay Area is demand for soccer: really big crowds. Probably the only other place other than Seattle that commands that kind of interest for just an MLS game. So it’s exciting to have that opportunity. We’re excited to be partnered with the 49ers to play a game at Levi’s, basically every year one of our home games, as well as one game at Stanford every year. We’re going to have a multiple-stadium or regional kind of strategy where we play the majority of our games at our main stadium – 18,000 seats or so – but we will also continue to have these one-off massive events of 50,000 or so, which are pretty good.
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On what he wants Sounders fans to know about ticket prices about twice as high as last season at Buck Shaw Stadium: I think the reality is this is a one-a-generational game, where you’re opening a new $1.3 billion stadium. And so the demand and interest in seeing the stadium is very, very high; and so the prices related to that are kind of at a different scale for this one event. You can’t really compare it to Buck Shaw or some of these other stadia because of that. And I know some of the folks were mad and they wanted a lower ticket price and these kind of things, but this is what this type of event and this type of experience kind of commands. We feel that for something that’s going to happen once every hundred years, people have obviously chosen to come to the game.