SANTA CLARA -- The San Francisco 49ers might be top contenders to win the parking Super Bowl, too: The team announced Tuesday that it should have 10,000 more spaces than originally planned for its new stadium -- enough for plenty of tailgating, quicker stadium getaways and even Monday Night Football.
The plans approved by city officials and voters had long called for 21,000 spaces, while Candlestick has about 19,000. The Niners now are close to locking down 31,500 total parking spots within walking distance of 69,000-seat Levi's Stadium by the time it opens in August. That's a 50 percent jump from the plan voters approved years ago and a 66 percent increase over infamously jam-packed Candlestick Park.
While most of the spots at Candlestick are next to the stadium, the Santa Clara parking will be spread out in surrounding businesses up to nearly a mile away. The 49ers got all those additional spots by giving up more money, agreeing to let local companies and schools take a lion's share of the revenue from fans.
The parking bonanza, including a plan for parking at a large nearby city golf course approved by Santa Clara leaders Tuesday, comes just months after the team reported a 5,000-space shortage that helped prompt a ban on weeknight 49ers home games.
In November, the city and team announced they would not hold Monday or Thursday night games at the stadium for at least the first year because of traffic and parking concerns. But with the extra parking secured, Jim Mercurio, the 49ers vice president of stadium operations, said "emphatically" that the team will host weeknight games in 2015 and will work with the city to try to host weeknight games in late 2014.
Also new is the price for parking, which is expected to be about $40, regardless of where you park -- up from $30 at Candlestick. The team stressed the price could change, especially for other events. More than half the parking-lot owners have approved tailgating on their properties.
The typical NFL stadium has about one parking spot for every three fans since most people carpool and others take public transit, and even most newer stadiums have far fewer than 30,000 spots.
"I'm a little amped about it; we had some people who thought we couldn't do this," said Mercurio, who has spent more than a year negotiating parking deals with local businesses. "We'll be in a much better position to manage traffic."
The team has more than 26,000 parking stalls already committed, including 5,000 that were added Tuesday night when the Santa Clara City Council unanimously approved a plan for fans to park on the fairways of the golf course across the street from the stadium. The rest of the spots are still under negotiation.
The city, which owns the Santa Clara Golf & Tennis Club, will get about $250,000 per year while the private golf course operator will be reimbursed $25,000 for the lost rounds of golf.
Other major parking locations include 2,250 spaces at Mission College, thousands of spots at adjacent Great America theme park, a new garage across the street, and smaller company lots around the area. Mayor Jamie Matthews, the chief stadium cheerleader, was so excited by the news Tuesday night that he called for everyone in attendance at the City Hall council chambers to erupt in a round of applause.
"This is phenomenal," Matthews said. "Every time the naysayers say we can't do it, we exceed it."
Several residents at the meeting, some wearing Niners shirts and jackets, were supportive of the plans but called for the tailgating to be as close to the stadium as possible to create a better atmosphere for fans walking to the gates.
Most property owners agreed to a revenue-sharing deal as part of the agreement, and Mercurio said the 49ers will "not be getting rich" off the parking. Total revenue from all the spots could be $8 million to $12 million for a 49ers season, plus another 15 to 20 big non-NFL events per year.
But Mercurio said the team wanted the flexibility for bigger events, such as the 50th Super Bowl in 2016, and noted that having more parking spread out should help reduce postgame traffic jams. They are also working on an app that will direct fans to the best parking spots based on live traffic feeds.
Fans can also ride toward the $1.3 billion stadium on Caltrain and BART and then hop on Valley Transportation Authority light-rail trains and buses to the game.
The parking bonanza is the latest in a long line of big money upgrades at the stadium, which has been under construction since April 2012. The new stadium also features more bathrooms and wider concourses, and perks like ordering food from your seat. But season tickets are about double the cost of Candlestick, and that's after fans pay $2,000 to $80,000 for new seat licenses.
Contact Mike Rosenberg at 408-920-5705. Follow him at twitter.com/RosenbergMerc.