(Originally published at Sports Radio Service)
Next season, Northern California will get its first outdoor NHL game. The Sharks will host the Kings on February 21, 2015, at Santa Clara’s brand spanking new Levi’s Stadium. From the Sharks’ press release:
“We are honored and elated that the NHL has selected the San Jose Sharks to participate in the NHL’s 2015 Coors Light Stadium Series and is bringing this magnificent event to the Bay Area,” said San Jose Sharks Chief Operating Officer John Tortora. “This event celebrates the growth of the great game of hockey in San Jose and recognizes the incredible support and passion of Sharks fans all over Northern California. We know our fans will bring the electrifying atmosphere of SAP Center at San Jose to Levi’s Stadium on Feb. 21 and we are looking forward to showcasing Sharks Territory outside and under the lights.”
That sounds grand, and it is very grand, enormous even. The Sharks deserve the attention. They have done a great deal to promote hockey in the Bay Area. On top of that, the size of the venue for outdoor games is a popular selling point, so it is important to have a big stadium. Levi’s has a rough capacity of 70,000. AT&T Park in San Francisco only has room for about 42,000.
Regardless of stadium size, I never thought it was likely that San Francisco would be the location. If there is any suitable competition for a big sporting event, they can usually beat San Francisco in a bidding war. San Francisco thinks too highly of itself to beg for anything. It bothers me that San Francisco doesn’t try harder to host the big parties. Heck, they couldn’t even hang on to their football team. Maybe San Francisco hates contact sports, so they send them to Santa Clara.
And yet… I remember meeting some travelers from Santa Clara and other South Bay cities. I met them here and there, overseas and even as near as the east coast. They had given up trying to tell people where they were from and started saying they were from near San Francisco or even claiming San Franciscanship. I had to press to discover the truth (my duty as a San Franciscan by birth), but they were happy I had heard of their towns. This is why San Francisco thinks it’s all that. No matter how many times it loses out to a less well-known neighbor, it still has the global name recognition that places like Santa Clara envy.
Don’t get me wrong, I like San Francisco. It is a pretty city, it has nice views, good food, liberal views, and interesting geography. But arrogance doesn’t look good on anyone.
Santa Clara is a good location for the outdoor game. It is right where Bay Area folks expect to find hockey. You can park in Santa Clara. Heck, you can hardly drive in SF anymore. Levi’s stadium has gotten great reviews, it will no doubt look good on television. Sharks fans should be glad the NHL didn’t put the game in Southern California. The way Southern California dominates the California hockey story is tedious.
Of course San Jose versus Los Angeles is a great matchup for its back story. Northern California and Southern California love to hate each other, almost as much as they love to bicker with other states. The Sharks and the Kings have a lovely history of aggravating each other, though Los Angeles might not remember when San Jose was a legitimate threat to them. Even when they were down three games to none, the Kings did not seem worried. Perhaps worry is just not something they do in Los Angeles. By contrast, the over-use of black clothing and gloomy thoughts is still common up here. Or maybe that is just SF.
Of course there is still the possibility that there will be another outdoor game in Northern California, and that might be in San Francisco. San Francisco hockey fans can always hope.