While the new Levi's stadium was nearly filled to capacity for its first 49er game there on Sunday, football fans who used the Mountain View transit center were met with new parking fees and for some, parking tickets.
Last month City Council members voted to spend $85,000 on a stadium day parking program for one year, expecting 500 to 600 drivers to seek parking in downtown Mountain View and take buses and light rail trains to the stadium in order to avoid parking near the stadium that costs as much as $50.
City officials said 123 drivers paid $10 to park in the three downtown parking lots -- and a garage -- that were designated for $10 parking beyond the usual three-hour time limit. One of the lots, at Dana and Hope streets, was nearly vacant. The transit center's parking lot, where VTA charged drivers $5 to park, appeared to still have 20 percent of its spaces free around 12:30 (the game began at 1 p.m.).
Meanwhile, police were busy enforcing new three-hour time limits that apply on game days in nearby residential areas, where many cars were seen parked. Police say they issued a total of 36 tickets for time limit violations. That is up from 32 during an Aug. 2 soccer game at the stadium, which also spurred 96 drivers to pay for parking in city lots.
"I think the initial observation is that the paid parking system worked fine," said council member Mike Kasperzak, who initially called for the parking program to prevent the downtown from becoming a free parking lot for Levi's stadium. "This was a pre-season game. We have no idea, during the course of the season, what the parking demand will be, or if people (who) drove to the game yesterday will decide, 'I want to do public transportation.'"
VTA reports that 3,310 people left Mountain View on VTA buses and trollies to get to the game, said Colleen Valles, VTA spokesperson. And about 1,500 people used Caltrain to get to those buses and trollies, said Caltrain spokesperson Jayme Ackemann. It is unclear how many of the other 1,810 stadium-goers arrived in cars parked in Mountain View. The city has yet to release any numbers.
For the thousands of fans who descended on the downtown Mountain View transit center on their way to the game, things appeared to go smoothly. Initial reports from police were that it was "uneventful" in terms of problems. About 50 police officers employed by the county, city and transit agencies were seen around the downtown transit station helping to manage the crowd.
Fliers posted by the VTA alerted drivers that the $10 fee charged for parking in the transit station lot on game days will soon be raised to $25. Under the new parking ordinance, the city will match that $25 fee for parking in the city's designated lots.
There were reportedly 68,000 people at Sunday's game, nearly the limit of the stadium's 68,983-person capacity. The first event at the stadium, an Aug. 5 soccer game, drew 48,765 people.