More than 40,000 soccer fans will pour into Santa Clara this Saturday for the first sporting event at Levi’s Stadium, and businesses in the area are expecting big things.
Officials have decided to cap the number of tickets that can be sold to the San Jose Earthquakes vs. Seattle Sounders FC Major League Soccer matchup at 44,000, about two-thirds of the new stadium’s capacity.
Erich Smith is the general manager at the Santa Clara Hilton, which is practically in Levi’s Stadium’s backyard.
“We’re using this Saturday just like the 49ers are, as a little bit of a test,” Smith said.
Smith said the hotel would sellout every time there’s game – and that includes this weekend. The MLS match is giving the hotel a chance to see what some 40,000 sports fans feels like, and that’s important, considering the 49ers are expected to draw nearly 70,000 to each game.
“I have every single manager – whether you’re in sales or accounting – everyone is here Saturday,” Smith said. “Everyone has a position and responsibility.”
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Restaurants in the area are expecting to double their normal weekend sales. One such restaurant, David’s, has been a hangout for golfers from the nearby Santa Clara Golf and Tennis Club for decades. With the first game at Levi’s imminent, owner David Ebrahimi has been getting ready for bigger crowds: He’s already bought new big screen TVS, new patio furniture, and he’s stocking up on food and beer.
This weekend is a test run, Ebrahimi said. He is expecting up to 3,000 soccer fans to frequent his establishment on Saturday. He is tripling his staff and expecting more customers to choose beer over Arnold Palmers. "We just need to experience [a game day],” an anxious Ebrahimi said.
Ebrahimi said fans will be able to hear the roar of the crowd from his restaurant’s patio.
Down the street, chicken and waffles are on the menu at Butter & Zeus
“We’re hoping the lines are out the door and that everyone will get their food in a timely manner,” owner Nga Huynh said.
Huynh said she and her husband opened up a year ago. She calls it an investment they couldn’t pass up. “Being in this area, it’s an exciting time,” she said.
Butter & Zeus has hired five part-time employees. All of them will be working Saturday. Huynh isn’t sure how many waffles they’ll sell, but she is ready for game day. “We’re preparing for a super crazy Saturday,” she said.