16280's guide to...
49ers Candlestick Park Seating and Ticket Buying Guide
So just where are the "real" best seats in the house?
I can say with confidence that there isn't a single correct answer to that question. It really depends on what you are looking for in terms of your gameday experience. Do you like watching the whole game seeing every aspect of every play (resembling a TV view), or do you prefer your heroes as close as possible at your first or rare chance to see them live? In Candlestick Park the answers may surprise you, and ticket prices on the secondary market may not accurately reflect their value to you. I've been buying season tickets and "rights" since 2001 and have done extensive homework on seat locations and the secondary market for tickets. As a result, I've accumulated 9 season tickets, have sat in seats all over the stadium, and have put in a lot of work selling whatever tickets I've had leftover in the lean years. I'm putting my thoughts on seats together for the benefit of diehard, Webzone, type fans as you guys are the ones who deserve to sit in good seats and get a good deal. Please also realize though that I'm not an expert on every section. I welcome comments from other experienced Candlestickers and will make revisions to this post, if necessary. Here's the seating chart. Make note that the top is East.
My General Opinions
West (home) sidelines are better than the East. I've seen some seating guides say the exact opposite and some people swear they prefer "the sunny side of the stadium" but I disagree. Candlestick is often actually hot and if you're in the East Stands you are looking into the sun all day. If you are on the home side, you are still in the sun for the early part of the game (though it's at your back instead of in your face) and depending on your row you may get some shade later in the game. Obviously sun doesn't matter for night games, however. Some people say there is a difference between being on the Home side and the Visitors side for fan section reasons, but I don't think that makes sense. All the good sideline seats are owned by 49er season ticket holders. Visiting fans could be anywhere and are not significantly more prominent on one side of the stadium. Also, if you get Upper Box or Upper Reserved seats, the West side is substantially closer to the field than the East as the West overhangs lower reserved (26 rows back) while the East is simply behind more than 40 rows of fans.
There is such a thing as too close. The front row is a great experience for being close to the players and feeling like you're in the action, but the first several rows are really too low for a view of the whole game. Players stand between the 30s on the sidelines and can completely block your view of the action if you have (expensive) 50yd line, low row seats. All you will see are the backs of the players standing up. This is not as big of an issue if you are in the endzones and corners. I would say 8-10 rows back (row J?) and you will not be obstructed between the 30s. Further back will be even better for watching the whole game.
Being under cover is great, but you can be too far back too. The first few rows of Lower Reserved where you are under cover are some of the most sought after seats in the stadium. When it rains, you are golden. When it's too hot you're great there too. But if you get seats too far back it's kind of dark, gloomy, and strangely windy. There can also be some poles partially obstructing your view. Ideally you'd want seats in the first 6-8 rows of Lower reserved seats that are under cover. There you are protected from the elements but it's close enough to the edge so it's open and bright.
South Endzone is better than the North. While this does not apply to goal line views, if you're behind the goalposts, I'd prefer the South. In the North you are further away from the field and looking more into the sun. Also the main scoreboard where you can see replays is in the North, so you have a better view in the South.
Some Upper Reserved seats are not that bad at all. This is particularly true on the West side where you're closer. They are all far away, but being higher you can really see the whole game. It's not as crazy and awe inspiring as being in low rows of the lower sections but it's a good view. Yardline seats in Upper Box (front of the second deck) are some of the absolute best and most sought after tickets.
Don't be fooled by people hyping being close to the tunnel. That's fairly meaningless and not a reason to consider those sections better. The players ignore fans by the tunnels before the game and afterwards the chances of catching a glove or something is pretty slim.
If you like looking at cheerleaders consider close to the field seats from the goal line to the 15yd line as they perform there the entire game. Also if you are in the South endzone and very close to the field near the roof of the baseball dugouts, the cheerleaders will get up and dance right in front of you (Row A) when the Niners score. That can be quite an addition to the experience.
The Niners warm up for the game on the North side of the 50 yd line. They don't sign autographs at that time, but it's fun to watch. Here you can see a virtual view of the seating areas from here:
My General Opinions
If you buy season tickets from the Niners, they will cost you $84/seat for lower yardlines and Upper Box yardlines, $25-49/seat for endzone Upper Reserved, and $64/seat for just about everything else. If single game tickets are available you have to tack on $10/seat for each section.
Generally, however, all the good seats are bought as season tickets. The seats typically available through the team or Ticketmaster at face value are Upper Reserved seats in the endzone.
If you want good seats, you MUST buy them from a season ticket holder, and will likely have to pay a premium to face if the team does well. The better the seats, the bigger the premium. The best seats often sell for $250-500 per seat despite a face value of only $84. Upper Reserved seats generally don't go for much higher than about double their face value of $64. (edit: I've heard at times you can get better seats over Ticketmaster, but that is not the norm. Perhaps the team keeps some good seats and releases them from time to time, but I doubt that one could expect to luck into such seats consistently.)
The best /easiest places to buy good seats are StubHub, Craigslist, and eBay. The key to buying on any of the sites is to knowing where you want to sit and what you want to pay in advance, because the good deals do not last long. StubHub is very secure and I'd say the easiest way for out-of-towners to get tickets. They require the seller to put their credit card info into their system before they can sell and they guarantee your tickets will arrive in time and be genuine. If there's a problem, you get a refund. StubHub requires you to pay for shipping, and charges the seller a 15% commission but it's still possible to find a good deal there. You just have to know what you want and check often. As soon as someone posts a good deal you have to be act fast before another knowledgeable person grabs it. What will typically be leftover on StubHub are rip-off deals, and that's why it seems expensive, but great deals do get posted there. They just don't last long.
Craigslist can have some of the best deals, particularly as it gets close to gameday. People in the Bay Area don't always know about or have time to use StubHub and can post great deals there. The problem comes with reliability. There are a lot of flaky buyers and sellers that post things to manipulate the market and play games with people. For out-of-towners, closing a deal via Craigslist can be challenging. The best way to use CL is to be local and call (not email) as soon as you see a deal you like and arrange to complete the transaction as soon as possible. Most serious sellers will post their phone number.
eBay can offer good deals, particularly if you get tickets far in advance of the season before most people are looking for seats. As the hot games get closer and if the team does well, prices go through the roof. If you check completed auctions, that can also be helpful in gauging the market prices for various locations and games.
So, bottom line, if I were to rank seat locations in my order of preference I'd go:
- Lower Reserved (west) yardline seats (as close to the 50 as possible) Row 1-5
- Lower Box yardline Row H and higher or Upper Box west side
- Lower East stands between the 10s
- Goal line on the west side
- Low rows of yardline Upper Reserved on the west side
- Upper Box east side
- Lower corner endzones on the south side
- Yardline Upper Reserved west side
- Lower south endzone
- Yardline Upper Reserved east side
- Lower north endzone
- Upper reserved south endzone
- Upper reserved north endzone