Levi's Stadium Will Pause For Anthem

49ers expand plan to pause concessions sales across stadium operations

  • by Don Muret
  • Published: August 8, 2018

A plan by the San Francisco 49ers to stop selling food and drink during the playing of the national anthem before games this season has expanded to cover nearly all aspects of stadium operations, including purchases at the team store and fans entering the stadium just before kickoff.

The initiative will start tonight at the 49ers’ first home preseason game against the Dallas Cowboys, team officials said.

The move confirms a statement made by team owner Jed York at the NFL owners’ meetings in May. At that time, York abstained from voting on a new policy approved by the rest of the owners that gives players the option to stay in the locker room during the playing of the anthem. Those who don’t adhere to the policy risk being fined. After the vote, York said the 49ers would not sell concessions during the anthem.

Over the past three months, though, more confusion arose over the policy after the NFL Players Association and individual players criticized the policy. Most recently, Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones was reportedly told by league officials not to discuss the issue after he mentioned publicly that his players would all stand for the anthem for the coming season.

Former 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick started the firestorm by first sitting and then kneeling for the anthem before games in 2016 as a protest against the treatment of racial minorities in the U.S. After other players began kneeling, President Donald Trump reignited the controversy last September, saying NFL owners should fire players who protest. 

The 49ers have decided to extend their exercise to other parts of game-day operations. They met with Levy, their new food provider, and Fanatics, their retail partner, and have informed the 3,500 game-day workers. All those personnel have been instructed to stop what they’re doing and pause for about two minutes during the anthem.

The move affects all general concessions and premium dining spaces at Levi’s Stadium, plus the team store and other merchandise stands. It extends to all ticket holders going through security and scanning their tickets to enter the stadium and fans headed to their seats after passing through the gates.

They’ll all have to wait until the anthem is completed, officials said.

To alert fans of the move, the digital menu boards at concession stands, as part of upgrades this season, will be pre-programmed to display a message that says, in effect, “Please pardon the interruption of service while we honor America.”

The 49ers decided against informing their season-ticket holders of the action ahead of tonight’s game because they don’t want to make it a bigger issue than it has already become over the past few years, officials said.

“What we’re looking for is an organic movement to kind of get back to where we were at one time,” said one 49ers executive who asked to remain anonymous in light of the NFL's reported reaction after Jones' comments. “We’re asking you to take a moment to be respectful and honor America.”

  • by Don Muret
  • Published: August 8, 2018