The $1.2 billion Levi's Stadium in Santa Clara, Calif. is set to become the home of the San Francisco 49ers in 2014 -- and, arguably, the West Coast's answer to Jerry Jones' Arlington Taj Mahal. But given the prominence of Cowboys Stadium in the current college football landscape, Levi's Stadium will have to start making inroads in the college game if it's going to earn that comparison.
The Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl is a start. But the stadium is reportedly about to reel in an even bigger fish by Bay Area standards, with the annual "Big Game" between Cal and Stanford set to be moved from Berkeley to Levi's Stadium for the 2014 season.
The San Francisco Chronicle's Ron Kroichick wrote Saturday that "both schools are expected to accept" an offer from the 49ers and the Santa Clara Stadium Authority to shift the game from Cal's Memorial Stadium to Santa Clara. The game would return to Berkeley in 2015, meaning the Bears wouldn't be forfeiting a home game in the series as much as delaying it.
CSN Bay Area reporter Kyle Bonagura followed up on Kroichick's report with these tweets:
Multiple sources confirm @ronkroichick story. 2014 Big Game at Levi's Stadium "basically a done deal." Announcement expected this week.— Kyle Bonagura (@KyleBonagura) August 24, 2013
Assuming no snags in deal, 2014 Big Game would be first CFB game in new stadium. @KraftBowl also slated to be played there.— Kyle Bonagura (@KyleBonagura) August 24, 2013
If there's a hitch in the plan, it might be that the decision is being met with stiff resistance -- to put it gently -- from the Cal faithful. Many Bear supporters already saw the 2012 Big Game moved out of Berkeley during Memorial Stadium renovations, don't want the game moved any closer to Stanford's Palo Alto campus, and are confused why the school would spend some $320 million to upgrade Memorial and then move the biggest game on the schedule somewhere else. (See the comments here, at fan blog California Golden Blogs, for a taste of the unhappiness -- if you don't mind some R-rated language, anyway.)
If Cal A.D. Sandy Barbour decides that even a one-year neutral-site hiatus isn't worth the backlash, the Bears might yet back out. And if not? Levi's Stadium will get to kick off its college football hosting duties in Big Game style.