SANTA CLARA -- 49ers fans ready for some football will have to settle for some futbol Saturday night as the crimson-and-gold baptize their new NFL cathedral with a "soft opening:" a San Jose Earthquakes soccer match that will fill two-thirds of Levi's Stadium.
Still, like eager fans dissecting every morsel of information from the Niners' ongoing training camp, there will be lots of signs to watch for in gauging whether the $1.3 billion Santa Clara stadium will be a hit -- and what needs improving. Here are 10 things the experts will be keeping a close eye on Saturday night:
1. Getting there. Traffic -- and for some, crowded trains -- continue to be the top concern for fans worried that 70,000 people descending on the same place might be too much for the medium-sized suburb to handle. Here's the reality: 49ers and city officials say you can create at least part of your traffic destiny by planning ahead and using assigned routes designed to spread out traffic to dozens of parking lots.
"Do not use Google or rely on your general knowledge of the area. Have patience, and read the directions," said police Chief Michael Sellers. "If you try to wing it, you may not be able to get to your parking lot."
But since many fans won't listen, the Niners and police will be monitoring parking lots and roads constantly, updating 34 digital message signs on the freeways and local streets that will direct fans to their designated lot.
Transit riders also need to do their homework to review the brand-new special-event schedule and figure out exactly what trains to take to avoid winding up on the wrong side of town.
2. Parking. With as many as 30,000 spaces within a mile of the stadium to fit about 20,000 expected vehicles, quantity is not the issue here. Rather, people will undoubtedly try to game the system by parking in nearby residential neighborhoods, skirt rules in and around transit lots and try to overload the best stadium lots instead of parking further away. Again, police will be out in full force.
3. Security. With more than 3,000 employees working Saturday, the biggest factor in whether you make it through the gates in time for the opening whistle will be whether everyone arrives all at once -- like just before the game starts, said Jim Mercurio, the 49ers vice president of stadium operations and security.
"You're going to be standing in line for a long time" if that happens, Mercurio said. But if enough fans arrive early, "there shouldn't be much of a wait at all."
Inside the stadium, police await their first arrest or detainment to test out the jail they've built in the stadium. And fans will get to see whether the publicized party-pooper list of new rules -- including no throwing footballs in the parking lot, no swearing inside the stadium and no taunting opposing fans -- will really result in ejection or citation.
4. Concessions. Touted as a foodie stadium, with the high prices to go with it, eventgoers will be the true judge. The quality and wait times will determine whether the prices -- such as $6.25 "frankfurters," $10.25 domestic beers and $8 pizza slices -- are worth it.
5. Bathrooms. Sports fan who don't want to miss the big play should know the stadium has 81 restrooms -- 33 men's, 33 women's and 15 family bathrooms -- though about half of those are in pricey suite and club areas that most fans won't have access to.
"There shouldn't be any bathroom lines, in my view," Mercurio said. "If there are, it'll be primarily because people don't know where the restrooms closest to them are at."
6. Entertainment. Part of paying hundreds of dollars for sports tickets is feeling you're being part of a show. The 49ers have built a state-of-the-art studio inside Levi's and promise top-notch half-time shows, scoreboard displays between plays and interactive features. But the main attraction -- a high-tech museum -- won't be open for another week.
7. Technology. This being Silicon Valley's stadium, fans need to connect to their gadgets at all times -- something no other NFL stadium has been able to accomplish. While the cell service, phone app and Wi-Fi systems are still getting their finishing touches, officials are telling fans to calibrate their expectations to a high level.
"Even here in the Valley people will be relatively impressed," said Steve Peck, a senior vice president with SAP, a technology partner on the stadium.
8. Class divide. A literal barrier separates the club section's cushioned seats (seat license cost: $20,000 to $80,000) from the neighboring non-club section that features traditional, cheaper plastic seats ($2,000 to $12,000.). The stadium's coolest areas -- its 10 club spaces, a rooftop lounge and a tailgate package from celebrity chef Michael Mina -- are accessible only to the wealthiest fans. So will fans in the regular seats still enjoy the standard Levi's experience, or will all the fun be had by the "wine-and-cheese crowd?"
9. Scalping. The 49ers season is sold out, but with some tickets still available to Saturday night's game, don't expect many people to make a buck either online or outside the stadium hawking tickets. That'll change once the Niners season starts, with fans online selling about 10,000 tickets per game for prices that average $386 -- second highest in the NFL behind the Seattle Seahawks, according to online ticket sale aggregator TiqIQ.
"One major tip I would give fans would be wait to buy," said TiqIQ spokesman Chris Matcovich. "It will take a while for sellers to understand pricing levels that not only make them money but that consumers are comfortable paying at the new stadium."
10. Noise. Since it's considered the biggest factor in determining home-field advantage, many fans are dying to know how loud Levi's will be. We'll hear it if the Earthquakes score a goal and also get a sense for how loud and frequent the planes heading directly overhead to nearby Mineta San Jose International Airport will be during events.
Regardless of the topic, stadium officials say Saturday's tests, with game time at 7:30 p.m., should help iron out some of the kinks before the Niner faithful arrive for an Aug. 17 preseason game.
"Problems are going to occur," Mercurio said. "It's about how we react to them."
Staff writer Robert Salonga contributed to this report. Contact Mike Rosenberg at 408-920-5705. Follow him at Twitter.com/RosenbergMerc.