Levi’s Stadium tour ranks atop to-do list

MONTCLARION: September 19, 2014

It’s the most high-tech, energy-efficient stadium in the country. And it could be the new home of the Oakland Raiders. Sure, Levi’s Stadium already has the 49ers, but when this $1.2 billion facility was built, it was built for two teams.

If you stay overnight in Santa Clara, you’ll be surprised — as I was — at the number of visitor options. Everyone knows about California’s Great America (check operating schedule before you go) but here are five free attractions in Santa Clara: The Intel Museum, Mission Santa Clara, de Saisset Art Museum, Triton Museum of Art and the self-guided walking tour, “Stroll into the Past.” Before you go, check out this website: http://www.santaclara.org.

Crime beat: Sadly, folks are thinking twice about answering that knock on the door these days. Neighborhood listservs have been heating up with complaints about solicitors. Police say that often these sales pitches are scams and you should call the Oakland Police Department at 510-777-3333 to report anything you think is suspicious.
Grand finale: The last Woodminster musical of the summer is a brilliantly updated version of the Rodgers and Hammerstein gem, “Flower Drum Song.” Even the ending is masterful, with each cast member introducing themselves with their birthplace and ethnicity. What a great way to connect the Oakland audience to this San Francisco Chinatown treat.
So let’s dream, for a minute, that one of the world’s best new sports venues is our venue, too. Even if the Raiders never set foot in the home locker room, East Bay fans can act like they own the place with a behind-the-scenes stadium tour.
The $25 tour, which you can bundle with the 49er Museum for $35, is 90 minutes of sneak peeks and factoids on everything from the luxury boxes and green roof to the cheerleaders’ and visiting teams’ locker rooms. And the 49er Museum is a two-story, interactive space where you can relive the team’s five Super Bowl championships.
The stadium food is making headlines, too, with Michael Mina’s Bourbon Steak & Pub on the property. Fans, front office personnel — even players — are stopping by for a lobster pot pie or some truffle mac and cheese. The night I was there, Mina was running the kitchen.
The energy is palpable, all across town. Santa Clara hotels have stepped up their game, creating farm-to-fork menus with fan favorites like tacos, sliders and gourmet hot dogs. The Hyatt Regency Santa Clara offers an over-the-top game day brunch and the Marriott Santa Clara has what it calls the Ultimate Tailgate Party. Both hotels are within walking distance of Levi’s Stadium.

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