A good friend of mine and I went to the 49ers football game last Sunday in Santa Clara against the New York Giants. Both teams had lost all of their games to date and we were there to see San Francisco pull out their first win at Levi Stadium.
It was thanks to free and unexpected tickets from a season ticket holder. Gordon Agrella had been with us at a Grief Share weekly series of meetings in Modesto and graciously offered his tickets saying he wanted us to have a good time.
Judy and I were the big spenders buying a bag of popcorn for $8. We shared that bag so our snacks at the game only cost us $4 each. A glass of beer was $10 but we didn’t go there.
I had tried to pay him for the tickets, but he declined saying the best thing we could do was to pay for them forward and do something for someone else who didn’t expect our act of kindness similar to his gift. Meeting someone like this was a gift in itself and a snapshot of what’s still good in the world.
The problems came when I tried to download his account that was sent to us with a parking pass. Nothing was working for me over a two day period and I had called Gordon multiple times until I felt I was bugging him to get those tickets out of frustration. He had advised me time and again how to dovetail with the 49ers front office to get the tickets on line. Right up until Sunday morning we weren’t sure we were going to be able to go because the tickets were somewhere up in thin air.
I did finally get a copy of the ticket transfers and was told I could take a picture of that and show my phone screen in the parking lot and at the gate to get into the lot and into the entry into the stadium. We left at 10 a.m. for the 1:25 p.m. game and got into Santa Clara in plenty of time to feel comfortable driving into the Green 3 parking area where the cost was posted as $50. But we had a parking pass, right? Nope!
The parking lot ticket taker looked at my cell phone and noted there was no bar code visible. “You’ve got to have a bar code,” he said.
“But, I have my account number,” I responded. That didn’t matter so I tried to contact the 49ers office again by cell phone but to no avail.
My friend suggested we forget the game and go down to Pier 39 and enjoy the ocean for the afternoon. “It’s ok,” she said.
No way, I was going to do that, she had been very excited about seeing the game Sunday. Her dad had been a scout for NFL teams years ago and a pro player as well and it was bringing back some warm memories for her. So, we decided to pay the $50 and walk to the stadium where we had to go through the normal X-ray security check line with hopes our luck would change. The security guys at the gate couldn’t believe I had so much junk in my pockets including my 3-inch Swiss Army knife they took from me saying we might have better luck in the stadium check-in.
We got through security ok but we still didn’t have access to the stadium. Game time was getting closer much like the daily deadlines at the paper. A supervisor told us to go down to the end of the half dozen entry gates and find a pass and special ticket booth where we might be able to resolve our problem of getting into the game. Our tickets had been placed into a front office online account and I had that account number on a computer printout which I showed to the ticket clerk and within two minutes – after looking at my driver’s license – she handed me the pair of tickets with a dynamic smile.
We walked to the north end of the stadium and took the escalator up into our seating area and went right to our seats. We saw a San Francisco player, Marquise Goodwin — a speedy receiver – kneeling in the end zone and blessing himself as he rose to his feet to join other members of his team, finding out later he was suited up and ready to play even though he and his wife had lost their newborn son the night before. And play he did, being responsible for two touchdowns in the game while fighting with his grief.
On a lighter side we had 49ers Banjo man Stacey Samuels walk right up in the row in front of us strumming on his strings to add to the game atmosphere. Then there was a fight in the stands down by the 40-yard line with a couple arrests but for the most part the fans were great. One guy behind us in the next row was shocked with the results of the 50/50 raffle winning thousands of dollars.
It was the day following Veterans’ Day and there were numerous patriotic ceremonies on the field. Half way through the game the announcer asked for all past military personnel to stand at their seats and be recognized by the crowd. I was one of only about five in our entire section. When I sat down a woman sitting to our right asked if I had noticed the big TV screen at the end of the stadium. I hadn’t and she said I should have because I was up there. That was something I didn’t expect. It was a little much.
At the end of the game we easily got onto the freeway and headed for home, stopping to eat at Olive Garden in Tracy. It was a good day but I’d like to see the 49ers streamline their online ticket procedures for people like me to get through. Even though we had to pay for the parking, it actually only cost us $25 each for the game with some great seats.
Gotta take my hat off to the staffers – all very courteous and anxious to help.