Thursday, December 8, 2016

How to Be a New York Basketball Fan In the Bay Area -- 2016-17 Edition

The New York Knicks will have their work cut out for them next Thursday night, playing in Oakland against the Golden State Warriors, 2015 NBA Champions and back-to-back Western Conference Champions. The Brooklyn Nets will visit on February 25.

Don't worry: The problem will be the team, for the players, not for the fans thereof. The creatures who plow into the Oakland Coliseum for Raiders games are a lot calmer inside the Oracle Arena for Warriors games, even with their newfound title swagger.

Before You Go. The San Francisco Bay Area has inconsistent weather. San Francisco, in particular, partly because it's bounded by water on three sides, is the one city I know of that has baseball weather in football season and football weather in baseball season. Or, as Mark Twain, who worked for a San Francisco newspaper during the Civil War, put it, "The coldest winter I ever spent was a summer in San Francisco." The game will be indoors, but you won't be indoors on the entire trip.

The website of the Oakland Tribune and, the website of the San Francisco Chronicle, are predicting low 60s for daylight on Thursday, and mid-40s for the evening. Bring a jacket.

As with the rest of California, Oakland is in the Pacific Time Zone, 3 hours behind New York. Adjust your timepieces accordingly.

Tickets. The Warriors averaged 19,596 fans per game last season, a sellout every game. And, since we can now call them a perennial championship contender, tickets might be hard to come by.

Tickets in the Lower Level, the 100 sections, are sold only to season-ticket holders between the baskets, and are $100 behind them. In the Club Level, the 200 sections, they're $96 between the baskets and $77 behind.

Getting There. It’s over 2,900 miles from Midtown Manhattan to the Oakland Coliseum complex. This is the longest Knicks or Nets roadtrip there is, and will remain so, unless Adam Silver or some future Commissioner decides to put a franchise in London. In other words, if you're going, you're flying.

You think I'm kidding? Even if you get someone to go with you, and you take turns, one drives while the other one sleeps, and you pack 2 days' worth of food, and you use the side of the Interstate as a toilet, and you don’t get pulled over for speeding, you’ll still need over 2 full days. Each way.

But, if you really, really want to drive... Get onto Interstate 80 West in New Jersey, and – though incredibly long, it's also incredibly simple – you’ll stay on I-80 for almost its entire length, which is 2,900 miles from Ridgefield Park, just beyond the New Jersey end of the George Washington Bridge, to the San Francisco end of the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge.

Getting off I-80, you'll need Exit 8A for I-880, the Nimitz Freeway – the 1997-rebuilt version of the double-decked expressway that collapsed, killing 42 people, during the Loma Prieta Earthquake that struck during the 1989 World Series between the 2 Bay Area teams. From I-880, you'll take Exit 37, turning left onto Zhone Way (no, that's not a typo), which becomes 66th Avenue, and then turn right onto Coliseum Way.

Not counting rest stops, you should be in New Jersey for an hour and a half, Pennsylvania for 5:15, Ohio for 4 hours, Indiana for 2:30, Illinois for 2:45, Iowa for 5 hours, Nebraska for 7:45, Wyoming for 6:45, Utah for 3:15, Nevada for 6:45, and California for 3:15. That’s almost 49 hours, and with rest stops, and city traffic at each end, we’re talking 3 full days.

That's still faster than Greyhound and Amtrak. Greyhound does stop in Oakland, at 2103 San Pablo Avenue at Castro Street. But the trip averages about 80 hours, depending on the run, and will require you to change buses 2, 3, 4 or even 5 times. And you'd have to leave no later than Thursday morning to get there by Sunday gametime. Round-trip fare is $550, but it can drop to $458 with advanced purchase.

On Amtrak, you would leave Penn Station on the Lake Shore Limited at 3:40 PM on Monday, arrive at Union Station in Chicago at 9:45 AM Central Time on Tuesday, and switch to the California Zephyr at 2:00 PM, arriving at Emeryville, California at 4:10 PM Pacific Time on Thursday. Round-trip fare: $464. Then you'd have to get to downtown Oakland on the Number 26 bus, which would take almost an hour.

Amtrak service has been restored to downtown Oakland, at 245 2nd Street, in Jack London Square. Unfortunately, it’s a half-mile walk to the nearest BART station, at Lake Merritt (8th & Oak). For A's and Raiders games, the station at the Coliseum site, which is part of the BART station there, might be better. 700 73rd Street. And yet, for either of these stations, you'd still have to transfer at Emeryville to an Amtrak Coast Starlight train.

Getting back, the California Zephyr leaves Emeryville at 9:10 AM, arrives in Chicago at 2:50 PM 2 days later, and the Lake Shore Limited leaves at 9:30 PM and arrives in New York at 6:23 PM the next day. So we're talking a Monday to the next week's Tuesday operation by train.

Newark to San Francisco is, at this time, not a cheap flight: Round-trip, non-stop, will cost about $1,000 on United Airlines. There is an Oakland International Airport, but it's actually a more expensive flight. And you'd have to change planes on the way to Oakland.

So you're better off flying into San Francisco International Airport, and then taking BART into either San Francisco or Oakland. BART from SFO to downtown San Francisco takes 30 minutes, to Oakland City Center 42 minutes. It's $8.65 to San Fran, $8.95 to Oakland. Oakland Airport to City Center is 37 minutes, $7.85.

Once In the City. Founded in 1852 and named after oak trees in the area, Oakland is a city of a little over 420,000 people. But if you count the "Oakland area" of the San Francisco Bay Area as being the Counties of Alameda, Contra Costa, Merced, San Joaquin, Solano, Stanislaus, Sutter and Yolo (not "YOLO"), it comes to 4,723,778 people -- almost as much as the San Francisco side of the area, counting the Counties of Marin, Monterey, Napa, San Francisco, San Mateo, Santa Clara (including San Jose), Santa Cruz and Sonoma: 4,855,538. Total: 9,579,316.

So anyone who says, "Oakland is a small market," or, "The East Bay is a small market," is wrong: The Oakland part of the Bay Area has more people than the metro areas of every major league city except New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Dallas, Houston, Philadelphia, Detroit, Washington, Miami, Atlanta and San Diego.
Most Oakland street addresses aren't divided into north-south, or east-west.  The city does have numbered streets, starting with 1st Street on the bayfront and increasing as you move northeast. One of the BART stops in the city is called "12th Street Oakland City Center," and it's at 12th & Broadway, so if you're looking at a centerpoint for the city, that's as good as any. The fare is $1.95 as long as you remain within the city of Oakland. The most it can be if you stay on the East side of the Bay is $5.35. (The BART system switched from subway tokens to farecards in 2005.)

Sales tax in California is 7.5 percent, and rises to 9 percent in Alameda County, including the City of Oakland. ZIP Codes in the East Bay start with the digits 945, 946, 947 and 948. The Area Code for the inner East Bay region is 510, the outer region 925.

Going In. The Oakland Coliseum complex is 6 1/2 miles from downtown Oakland, 18 miles from downtown San Francisco, and 35 miles from downtown San JoseThe Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) subway line has a Coliseum stop, which can be accessed from nearly every city in the Bay Area.

It takes 10 minutes to ride Green (Daly City to Fremont), Blue (Daly City to Dublin/Pleasanton) or Orange (Richmond to Fremont) Line from downtown Oakland to the Coliseum stop, and it will cost $1.90 each way -- cheaper than New York's Subway. It takes 21 minutes to ride either the Green or Blue Line from downtown San Francisco to the Coliseum stop, and it will cost $4.15 each way -- a lot more expensive New York, but very efficient.
A BART train

From downtown Oakland, it will take about 10 minutes on the Fremont Line, and cost $1.85, cheaper than New York's (because, in this case, you would be staying not just on the Oakland side of the Bay but wholly within the City of Oakland).

The official address of the Coliseum, including the Arena, is 7000 Coliseum Way. If you’re driving in (either having come all the way across the country by car, or from your hotel in a rental), there are 4 major lots, and going clockwise from the north of the stadium they are A, B, C and D, each corresponding with an entry gate at the stadium. Parking is $20 for A's games, $30 for the Warriors, and $35 for the Raiders. Tailgating is encouraged, but must be done in either the A or B lots, and beer kegs and glass containers are prohibited.

If you’re coming from the BART station, there will be a walkway over San Leandro Street, which may remind you of the walkway from the Willets Point station into the parking lot of Shea Stadium and its successor Citi Field. (Hopefully, it won't be as creepy as the Meadowlands' walkway over Route 120 from the Giants Stadium side of the parking lot to the Arena.) That will drop you off at the due east side of the Coliseum, dead center field.

The complex includes the stadium that has been home to the A’s since 1968 and to the NFL’s Oakland Raiders from 1966 to 1981 and again since 1995; and the Oracle Arena, a somewhat-renovated version of the Oakland Coliseum Arena, home to the NBA’s Golden State Warriors on and off since 1966, and continuously since 1971 except for a one-year hiatus in San Jose while it was being renovated, 1996-97. Various defunct soccer teams played at the Coliseum, and the Bay Area’s former NHL team, the Oakland Seals/California Golden Seals, played at the arena from 1967 to 1976.

The Coliseum faces east, away from San Francisco, and is 6 miles northwest of downtown Oakland. From the outside, it won’t look like much, mainly because it was mostly built below ground. Above ground, you’ll be seeing only the upper deck. If you come in by BART, you'll almost certainly be coming in from the east.
The Oakland Coliseum Arena opened on November 9, 1966, and became home to the Warriors in 1971 -- at which point they changed their name from "San Francisco Warriors" to "Golden State Warriors," as if representing the entire State of California had enabled the "California Angels" to take Los Angeles away from the Dodgers, and it didn't take L.A. away from the Lakers, either.
The arena also hosted the Oakland Oaks, who won the American Basketball Association title in 1969; the Oakland Seals, later the California Golden Seals (didn't work for them, either), from 1967 to 1976; the Golden Bay Earthquakes of the Major Indoor Soccer League; and select basketball games for the University of California from 1966 to 1999. It's also been a major concert venue, and hosted the Bay Area's own, the Grateful Dead, more times than any other building: 66. Elvis Presley sang at the Coliseum Arena on November 10, 1970 and November 11, 1972.

In 1996-97, the arena was gutted to expand it from 15,000 to 19,000 seats. (The Warriors spent that season in San Jose.) This transformed it from a 1960s arena that was too small by the 1990s into one that was ready for an early 21st Century sports crowd. It was renamed The Arena in Oakland in 1997, and the Oracle Arena, for the computer technology company, in 2005. The Warriors plan to move into a new arena in San Francisco for the 2019-20 season, named the Chase Center.

The court runs east-to-west, and that ceiling might remind you of Madison Square Garden.
Food. San Francisco, due to being a waterfront city and a transportation and freight hub, has a reputation as one of America’s best food cities. Oakland benefits from this. According to the Oracle Arena website:

Oracle Arena is proud to partner with Levy Restaurants to create an incredibly diverse menu of food and beverage options with something for everyone. Whether it's our award-winning cuisine, quality presentation, genuine hospitality or attention to every detail, our goal is to make sure your dining experience is a winning one. We look forward to creating a memorable experience for you and your guests.
Check out how our chefs have re-invented the fan food experience with the Dungeness Crab sandwich on ACME torpedo roll or the selections of Kinders BBQ, Saags Italian sausage and Kielbasa.  Our Bahn Mi cart features fantastic sandwich selections including a ginger garlic tofu sandwich or a Vietnamese BBQ Pork Bahn Mi.  Right next door you can dig into a Fried Chicken Po’Boy sandwich and finish it all up with fresh squeezed lemonade.
For more traditional fare, try our burger of the month or build your own monster dog at the Mod Dog Cart.  Pair it with an order of Slam Dunk Nachos to complete your dining experience.  You can hang out in the Timeout Taproom for a fresh microbrew or head over to Jamba Juice and grab a smoothie.  Whatever you’re craving, you’ll find something to get your taste buds in the game! 
On the lighter side, there is a wide variety of tasty salads from wheat berry with grilled vegetable dressing to the golden beet salad with quinoa, orange segments, shallots, pistachios & an orange miso dressing.
If your seats have access to one of our sideline clubs you will have exclusive access to our Wok locations featuring Ribs, egg rolls, BBQ pork buns and more!  Grab a Bud or Stella and a seat and enjoy.  Finish it all off with a cup of frozen yogurt with all the toppings. 
We provide a seamless guest experience and offer a wide range of food items for your every need. Some of our fan favorites include:  California Cheddar Bacon Burger, made to order Caesar Salads, Dungeness Crab Sandwiches, Hummus Wraps, Pizza and our famous Slam Dunk Nachos. The menu doesn’t stop there; we offer a full bar with only Premium top shelf liquors and dessert to satisfy that sweet tooth.
Team History Displays. Until this new NBA season began, the Warriors had their banner for the 1 title they'd won in the Bay Area flanked by the 2 they'd won in Philadelphia, and those, in turn, flanked by their retired numbers. Now, they have the NBA Championship banners in sequence: Philadelphia 1946-47, Philadelphia 1955-56, Golden State 1974-75, Golden State 2014-15. They do not, however, hang banners for their Conference titles in which they lost the NBA Finals, in 1948, 1964 and 1967; or for their other Division title, in 1976.

The numerical sequence of their retired numbers also works well, as the 3 lowest retired numbers, hung to the left of the title banners, are of players who played in Philadelphia, and made the 1962 move across the continent: 13, center Wilt Cahmberlain; 14, forward Tom Meschery; and 16, guard Al Attles. All of them played on the 1964 team that reached the Finals, and all of them played in the 1967 Finals -- although, in Wilt's case, it was against the Warriors for the new Philadelphia team, the 76ers.

The numbers to the right of the title banners are: 17, guard Chris Mullin, a star of the 1980s and '90s (and, as New Yorkers, you may note that he is now head coach at St. John's, where he played for Lou Carnesecca); 24, forward Rick Barry, the Roselle Park, New Jersey native who bridged the "San Francisco" and "Golden State" eras, winning an ABA title with the Oakland Oaks and an NBA title with the Warriors in the same building; and 42, center Nate Thurmond, who reached the Finals with them in 1964 and 1967, but was gone by 1975.
Chamberlain, Barry, Thurmond and Mullin are in the Basketball Hall of Fame. So is Jamaal Wilkes, a member of the 1975 team (he was named Keith Wilkes at the time) who also won titles with the Lakers. So is Šarūnas Marčiulionis, the Lithuanian legend who reluctantly starred with the Soviet national team, and wore 13 with the Warriors before it was retired for Wilt.

The Warriors do not honor players who played the bulk of their careers with them in Philadelphia, such as 1947 original Joe Fulks, the NBA's 1st-ever scoring leader; and 1956 titlists Neil Johnston, Paul Arizin, Tom Gola and Guy Rodgers. All 4 of those are in the Hall of Fame.

Arizin and Fulks were named to the NBA's 25th Anniversary Team in 1971. Chamberlain was named to the 35th Anniversary Team in 1980. Arizin, Chamberlain, Thurmond and Barry were named to the NBA's 50th Anniversary 50 Greatest Players in 1996. And Barry, Warren Jabali (formerly named Warren Armstrong) and Doug Moe were named to the ABA All-Time Team.

The Bay Area Sports Hall of Fame (BASHOF) is unusual in that its exhibits are spread over several locations. But, among the Warriors inductees, Mullin alone is honored at the Arena. Barry, Thurmond and Attles are honored at the Coliseum, and Meschery at San Francisco International Airport, at Gate 88. Frank Mieuli, their 1st owner in the Bay Area, and Mitch Richmond have been elected, but their plaques have not yet been placed. Chamberlain has not yet been honored.

Stuff. The Warriors have 3 Adidas Team Stores inside Oracle Arena, opening the 3rd, outside Section 105, in time for last season's NBA Finals. The previous ones are near the Plaza next to the Box Office, and on the Main Concourse outside Section 102.

As you might guess, the Warriors' title brought out celebratory books. Bay Area News Group (BANG), which publishes the San Jose Mercury News, published Golden Boys: The Golden State Warriors' Historic 2015 Championship Season. KCI Sports Publishing came out with Striking Gold - Golden State Warriors NBA ChampionsFor a discussion of their 1975 title season, and any other part of their history, you may have to settle for the Warriors' edition in the NBA's A History of Hoops series, written by Nate Frisch, with poor timing: Just 5 months later, and it would have been published with the new championship. An official DVD highlight package was released by the NBA.

During the Game. A November 13, 2014 article on DailyRotoHelp, ranked the NBA teams' fan bases, and listed the Warriors' fans 7th, in the top quartile of the league. This was written before the run to last year's title, and it called them "a loud, exciting bunch of fans."

This is not a Raider game. Nor is this a baseball Giant game where you might be wearing Dodger gear. This is a Warrior game, and even if you were wearing Laker gear (and you're not), you'd almost certainly be safe. Like A's fans, Warriors fans are blue-collar, but much more laid-back than the pirate, biker and Darth Vader wannabes who dress up to go to Raider games.

Still: In spite of your New York (and possibly Brooklyn) origins, and their team name, don't yell out the iconic (and ad-libbed) line from the classic New York film The Warriors: "Warr-i-ors! Come out and play-ay!"

The Warriors -- a.k.a. The W's in print and The Dubs when spoken -- do not have a mascot. They do have cheerleaders. They do not have a regular National Anthem singer, but during the 2015 Playoffs, they had a good-luck charm in 10-year-old San Jose kid Nayah Damasen: They won every Playoff game at which he sang it.

Their December 15 game against the Knicks will be Jewish Heritage Night (makes sense, especially if Woody Allen makes the trip), and they will also be giving out Warriors Splash Towels. For their February 25 game against the Nets, it will be Slate Night, when the Warriors wear their "slate"-colored uniforms.

The band Stroke 9 recorded a theme song, "Dem Dubs Doh" (Them Dubs, Though), to the tune of Jack Jones' legendary theme from The Love Boat. However, the best fan chant you're going to here is the rather generic, "Let's go, Warriors!" I suppose it could be worse: "GSW" stands for "Golden State Warriors," but it also stands for "gunshot wound."

After the Game. Oakland has a bit of a rough reputation, but, again, Dubs fans are not Raider fans. The Coliseum complex being a pair of islands in a sea of parking, not in any neighborhood, will help. Don't antagonize anyone, and you'll be fine.

If you want to go out for a postgame meal or drinks, be advised that some sections of town are crime-ridden. And, in this case, wearing out-of-town team gear might not be a good idea. It’s probably best to stay within the area from the 12th Street/Oakland City Center BART station and Jack London Square, center of the city’s nightlife, or to take to BART and cross the Bay to San Francisco.

There are three bars in the Lower Nob Hill neighborhood of San Francisco that are worth mentioning. Aces, at 998 Sutter Street & Hyde Street in San Francisco’s Lower Nob Hill neighborhood, is said to have a Yankee sign out front and a Yankee Fan as the main bartender. It’s also the home port of Mets, NFL Giants, Knicks and Rangers fans in the Bay Area.

R Bar, at 1176 Sutter & Polk Street, is the local Jets fan hangout. The Wreck Room, at 1390 California Street at Hyde Street, has also been cited as a Jet fans' bar. And Greens Sports Bar, at 2239 Polk at Green Street, is also said to be a Yankee-friendly bar. And a recent Thrillist article, citing the best sports bar in each State, named the Kezar Pub, at 770 Stanyan Street across from the eponymous stadium, as the best one in California.

The Kezar Pub is also rated as one of the best bars to watch European soccer games. If you visit the Bay Area during that sport's season (which is in progress), these San Francisco bars are also recommended, due to their early openings: Maggie McGarry's, 1353 Grant Avenue, Bus 30; The Mad Dog in the Fog, 530 Haight Street, MUNI N Line or Bus 6; and Danny Coyle's, 668 Haight Street, MUNI N Line or Bus 6.

One place you definitely won't be able to go is Lefty O'Doul's, named for the legendary ballplayer who was the longtime manager of the Pacific Coast League's San Francisco Seals, at 333 Geary Street, corner of Powell Street, just 3 blocks from the Powell Street BART station and right on a cable car line.

This is because a dispute between the operators of the restaurant and the owners of the building meant the closing of Lefty O'Doul's on February 3, 2017. The owners of the building say they will renovate the current location and reopen under the Lefty O'Doul's name, while the operators of the restaurant say they will open at a new location under the Lefty O'Doul's name. Who has the legal right to operate under the name has not yet been decided.)

Sidelights. The San Francisco Bay Area, including the East Bay (which includes Oakland), has a very rich sports history. Here are some of the highlights, aside from the Oakland Coliseum complex:

* Emeryville Park. Also known as Oaks Park, this was the home of the Pacific Coast League’s Oakland Oaks from 1913 until 1955. The Oaks won Pennants there in 1927, ’48, ’50 and ’54.

Most notable of these was the 1948 Pennant, won by a group of players who had nearly all played in the majors and were considered old, and were known as the Nine Old Men (a name often given to the U.S. Supreme Court). These old men included former Yankee 1st baseman Nick Etten, the previous year’s World Series hero Cookie Lavagetto of the Brooklyn Dodgers (an Oakland native), Hall of Fame catcher Ernie Lombardi (another Oakland native), and one very young player, a 20-year-old 2nd baseman from Berkeley named Billy Martin. Their manager? Casey Stengel. Impressed by Casey’s feat of managing the Nine Old Men to a Pennant in a league that was pretty much major league quality, and by his previously having managed the minor-league version of the Milwaukee Brewers to an American Association Pennant, Yankee owners Dan Topping and Del Webb hired Casey to manage in 1949. Casey told Billy that if he ever got the chance to bring him east, he would, and he was as good as his word.

Pixar Studios has built property on the site. 45th Street, San Pablo Avenue, Park Avenue and Watts Street, Emeryville, near the Amtrak station. Number 72 bus from Jack London Square.

* Seals Stadium. Home of the PCL’s San Francisco Seals from 1931 to 1957, the Mission Reds from 1931 to 1937, and the Giants in 1958 and ’59, it was the first home professional field of the DiMaggio brothers: First Vince, then Joe, and finally Dom all played for the Seals in the 1930s. The Seals won Pennants there in 1931, ’35, ’43, ’44, ’45, ’46 and ’57 (their last season). It seated just 18,500, expanded to 22,900 for the Giants, and was never going to be more than a stopgap facility until the Giants’ larger park could be built. It was demolished right after the 1959 season, and the site now has a Safeway grocery store.

Bryant Street, 16th Street, Potrero Avenue and Alameda Street, in the Mission District. Hard to reach by public transport: The Number 10 bus goes down Townsend Street and Rhode Island Avenue until reaching 16th, but then it’s an 8-block walk. The Number 27 can be picked up at 5th & Harrison Streets, and will go right there.

* Candlestick Park. Home of the Giants from 1960 to 1999, the NFL 49ers since 1970, and the Raiders in the 1961 season, this may have been the most-maligned sports facility in North American history. Its seaside location (Candlestick Point) has led to spectators being stricken by wind (a.k.a. The Hawk), cold, and even fog. It was open to the Bay until 1971, including the 1962 World Series between the Yankees and the Giants, and was then enclosed to expand it from 42,000 to 69,000 seats for the Niners. It also got artificial turf for the 1970 season, one of the first stadiums to have it – though, to the city’s credit, it was also the 1st NFL stadium and 2nd MLB stadium (after Comiskey Park in Chicago) to switch back to real grass.

The Giants only won 2 Pennants there, and never a World Series. But the 49ers have won 5 Super Bowls while playing there, with 3 of their 6 NFC Championship Games won as the home team. The NFL Giants did beat the 49ers in the 1990 NFC Championship Game, scoring no touchdowns but winning 15-13 thanks to 5 Matt Bahr field goals. The Beatles played their last “real concert” ever at the ‘Stick on August 29, 1966 – only 25,000 people came out, a total probably driven down by the stadium’s reputation and John Lennon’s comments about religion on that tour.

The Giants got out, and the 49ers have now done the same, with their new stadium opening last year. The last sporting event was a U.S. national soccer team win over Azerbaijan earlier this year, the 4th game the Stars & Stripes played there (2 wins, 2 losses). It has now been demolished, and good riddance.

Best way to the site by public transport isn’t a good one: The KT light rail at 4th & King Streets, at the CalTrain terminal, to 3rd & Gilman Streets, and then it’s almost a mile’s walk down Jagerson Avenue. So unless you’re driving/renting a car, or you’re a sports history buff who HAS to see the place, I wouldn’t suggest making time for it.

In spite of the Raiders' return, the 49ers are more popular -- according to a 2014 Atlantic Monthly article, even in Alameda County. This is also true for the Giants, more popular in Alameda County than the A's. The Raiders remain more popular in the Los Angeles area, a holdover from their 1982-94 layover, and also a consequence of L.A. not having had a team since.

* AT&T Park. Home of the Giants since 2000, it has been better for them than Candlestick -- aesthetically, competitively, financially, you name it. Winning 3 World Series since it opened, it's been home to The Freak (Tim Lincecum) and The Steroid Freak (Barry Bonds).

It's hosted some college football games, and a February 10, 2006 win by the U.S. soccer team over Japan. 24 Willie Mays Plaza, at 3rd & King Streets.

* Kezar Stadium. The 49ers played here from their 1946 founding until 1970, the Raiders spent their inaugural 1960 season here, and previous pro teams in the city also played at this facility at the southeastern corner of Golden Gate Park, a mere 10-minute walk from the fabled corner of Haight & Ashbury Streets. High school football, including the annual City Championship played on Thanksgiving Day, used to be held here as well. Bob St. Clair, who played there in high school, college (University of San Francisco) and the NFL in a Hall of Fame career with the 49ers, has compared it to Chicago’s Wrigley Field as a “neighborhood stadium.” After the 49ers left, it became a major concert venue.

The original 60,000-seat structure was built in 1925, and was torn down in 1989 (a few months before the earthquake, so there’s no way to know what the quake would have done to it), and was replaced in 1990 with a 9,000-seat stadium, much more suitable for high school sports. The original Kezar, named for one of the city’s pioneering families, had a cameo in the Clint Eastwood film Dirty Harry. Frederick & Stanyan Streets, Kezar Drive and Arguello Blvd. MUNI light rail N train.

* Frank Youell Field. This was another stopgap facility, used by the Raiders from 1962 to 1965, a 22,000-seat stadium that was named after an Oakland undertaker – perhaps fitting, although the Raiders didn’t yet have that image. Interestingly from a New York perspective, the first game here was between the Raiders and the forerunners of the Jets, the New York Titans.

It was demolished in 1969. A new field of the same name was built on the site for Laney College. East 8th Street, 5th Avenue, East 10th Street and the Oakland Estuary. Lake Merritt BART station.

* Cow Palace. The more familiar name of the Grand National Livestock Pavilion, this big barn just south of the City Line in Daly City has hosted just about everything, from livestock shows and rodeos to the 1956 and 1964 Republican National Conventions, nominating Dwight D. Eisenhower and Barry Goldwater, respectively, for President. (Yes, the Republicans came here, not the "hippie" Democrats, although they did hold their 1984 Convention downtown at the George Moscone Convention Center, 747 Howard Street at 4th Street, nominating Walter Mondale.)
The '64 Convention is where New York’s Governor Nelson Rockefeller refused to be booed off the podium when he dared to speak out against the John Birch Society – the Tea Party idiots of their time – and when Senator Goldwater was nominated, telling them, "I would remind you, my fellow Republicans, that extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice! And I would remind you also that moderation in the pursuit of justice is no virtue." (Personally, I think that extremism in the defense of liberty is no defense of liberty.)

Built in 1941, it is one of the oldest remaining former NBA and NHL sites, having hosted the NBA’s Warriors (then calling themselves the San Francisco Warriors) from 1962 to 1971, the NHL’s San Jose Sharks from their 1991 debut until their current arena could open in 1993, and several minor-league hockey teams.

The 1960 NCAA Final Four was held here, culminating in Ohio State, led by Jerry Lucas and John Havlicek (with future coaching legend Bobby Knight as the 6th man) beating local heroes and defending National Champions California, led by Darrall Imhoff.

The Beatles played here on August 19, 1964 and August 31, 1965, and Elvis sang here on November 13, 1970 and November 28 & 29, 1976. It was the site of Neil Young’s 1978 concert that produced the live album Live Rust and the concert film Rust Never Sleeps, and the 1986 Conspiracy of Hope benefit with Joan Baez, Lou Reed, Sting and U2. The acoustics of the place, and the loss of such legendary venues as the Fillmore West and the Winterland Ballroom, make it the Bay Area’s holiest active rock and roll site. 2600 Geneva Avenue at Santos Street, in Daly City. 8X bus.

From their 1962 arrival until moving to Oakland in 1971, the Warriors played several home games at the War Memorial Gymnasium at the University of San Francisco (better known as the USF Memorial Gym). It opened in 1958, thanks to the revenues from USF's 1955 and 1956 National Championships led by future Boston Celtics stars Bill Russell and K.C. Jones. But it only seats 5,300, so it was never a viable permanent home for an NBA team. 2335 Golden Gate Avenue at Roselyn Terrace. Bus 31.
USF's Memorial Gym

In addition to the preceding, Elvis sang at the Auditorium Arena (now the Kaiser Convention Center, near the Laney College campus in Oakland) early in his career, on June 3, 1956 and again on October 27, 1957; and the San Francisco Civic Auditorium (now the Bill Graham Civic Auditorium, 99 Grove Street at Polk Street) on October 26, 1957. This is also where the 1920 Democratic Convention was held, nominating James M. Cox, who lost to Warren Harding.

While Fresno is nearly 200 miles southeast, it's closer to San Francisco than it is to Los Angeles. Elvis sang at Fresno's Selland Arena on April 25, 1973 and May 12, 1974. 700 M Street at Ventura Street.

* SAP Center at San Jose. Formerly the San Jose Arena and the HP Pavilion, this building has hosted the NHL’s San Jose Sharks since 1993. The Warriors played here in 1996-97, while their Oakland arena was being renovated. If you’re a fan of the TV show The West Wing, this was the convention center where the ticket of Matt Santos and Leo McGarry was nominated. 525 W. Santa Clara Street at Autumn Street, across from the Amtrak & CalTrain station.

* Avaya Stadium. The new stadium for the Earthquakes opened last year. It is soccer-specific and seats 18,000 people. On July 28, 2016, it hosted the MLS All-Star Game, with North London giants Arsenal defeating the MLS All-Stars 2-1. This past March 24, it hosted its 1st match of the U.S. men's national soccer team, a 6-0 win over Honduras in a 2018 World Cup Qualifying match. It has hosted matches of the U.S. women's soccer team, and has also hosted rugby.

1123 Coleman Avenue & Newhall Drive. It is 3 1/2 miles from downtown San Jose, 41 miles from downtown Oakland, and 46 from downtown San Francisco. ACE (Altamont Commuter Express) to Great America-Santa Clara.

This is actually the 3rd version of the San Jose Earthquakes. The 1st one played in the original North American Soccer League from 1974 to 1984, at Spartan Stadium. This has been home to San Jose State University sports since 1933, it hosted both the old Earthquakes, of the original North American Soccer League, from 1974 to 1984. It's hosted 3 games of the U.S. national team, most recently a 2007 loss to China, and games of the 1999 Women's World Cup.

1251 S. 10th Street, San Jose. San Jose Municipal Stadium, home of the Triple-A San Jose Giants, is a block away at 588 E. Alma Avenue. From either downtown San Francisco or downtown Oakland, take BART to Fremont terminal, then 181 bus to 2nd & Santa Clara, then 68 bus to Monterey & Alma.

The 2nd version of the Quakes played at Spartan Stadium from 1996 to 2005, but ran into financial trouble, and got moved to become the Houston Dynamo. The 3rd version was started in 2008, and until 2014 played at Buck Shaw Stadium, now called Stevens Stadium, in Santa Clara, on the campus of Santa Clara University. Also accessible by the Santa Clara ACE statin.

* Levi's Stadium. The new home of the 49ers, whose naming rights were bought by the San Francisco-based clothing company that popularized blue jeans all over the world, opened in 2014. It is nicknamed "The Field of Jeans."

This past February, it hosted Super Bowl 50, with the Denver Broncos beating the Carolina Panthers; and an NHL Stadium Series outdoor hockey game there this past February, with the Sharks losing to their arch-rivals, the Los Angeles Kings.

On June 3, it hosted a game of the 2016 Copa America, its 1st match by the U.S. national soccer team, but we lost 2-0 to Colombia. It annually hosts the Pacific-12 Conference Championship Game, and in 2019 (for the 2018 season) it will host the College Football Playoff National Championship.

Before construction, the address of the site was 4701 Great America Parkway at Old Glory Lane in Santa Clara, next to California's Great America park, outside San Jose. Now, the official address of Levi's Stadium is 4900 Marie P. DeBartolo Way, after the mother of former 49ers owner and newly-elected Pro Football Hall-of-Famer Eddie DeBartolo. If you're going to apply to the U.S. Postal Service to make it 4900, why not 4949? The intersection is Marie P. DeBartolo Way and Tasman Drive. It's 46 miles southeast of downtown San Francisco, 39 miles southeast of downtown Oakland, and 9 miles northwest of downtown San Jose.

CalTrain from downtown San Francisco to Santa Clara station. California's Great America theme part is next-door. From downtown San Jose, take the 916 trolley.

* Stanford Stadium. This is the home field of Stanford University in Palo Alto, down the Peninsula from San Francisco. Originally built in 1921, it was home to many great quarterbacks, from early 49ers signal-caller Frankie Albert to 1971 Heisman winner Jim Plunkett to John Elway. It hosted Super Bowl XIX in 1985, won by the 49ers over the Miami Dolphins – 1 of only 2 Super Bowls that ended up having had a team that could have been called a home team. (The other was XIV, the Los Angeles Rams losing to the Pittsburgh Steelers at the Rose Bowl.)

It also hosted San Francisco's games of the 1994 World Cup, a game of the 1999 Women's World Cup, and the soccer games of the 1984 Olympics, even though most of the events of those Olympics were down the coast in Los Angeles. It hosted 10 games by the U.S. national team, totaling 4 wins, 2 losses, 2 draws.

The original 85,000-seat structure was demolished and replaced with a new 50,000-seat stadium in 2006. Arboretum Road & Galvez Street. Caltrain to Palo Alto, 36 miles from downtown Oakland, 35 from downtown San Francisco, 19 from downtown San Jose.

No President has ever been born, or has ever grown up, in the San Francisco Bay Area. But Herbert Hoover, 1929-33, was part of the 1st class at Stanford, from 1891 to 1895, and he and his wife, Lou Henry Hoover, maintained a home there from 1920 until her death in 1944, at which point he moved to the Waldorf Towers in New York. The house is now the official residence of the president -- of Stanford. It is not open to the public. 623 Mirada Avenue, across the campus from the stadium.

Stanford runs a think tank named for the 31st President, the Hoover Insitution, and exhibits inside the Hoover Tower on campus. 550 Serra Mall.

* California Memorial Stadium. Home of Stanford's arch-rivals, the University of California, at its main campus in Berkeley in the East Bay. (The school is generally known as "Cal" for sports, and "Berkeley" for most other purposes.) Its location in the Berkeley Hills makes it one of the nicest settings in college football.

But it's also, quite literally, on the Hayward Fault, a branch of the San Andreas Fault, so if "The Big One" had hit during a Cal home game, 72,000 people would have been screwed. With this in mind, the University renovated the stadium, making it safer and ready for 63,000 fans in 2012. So, like their arch-rivals Stanford, they now have a new stadium on the site of the old one.

The old stadium hosted 1 NFL game, and it was a very notable one: Due to a scheduling conflict with the A’s, the Raiders played a 1973 game there with the Miami Dolphins, and ended the Dolphins’ winning streak that included the entire 1972 season and Super Bowl VII. 76 Canyon Road, Berkeley. Downtown Berkeley stop on BART; 5 1/2 miles from downtown Oakland, 14 from downtown San Francisco, 48 from downtown San Jose.

Yankee Legend Joe DiMaggio, who grew up in San Francisco and later divided his time between there and South Florida, is buried at Holy Cross Cemetery in Colma, on the Peninsula. 1500 Mission Road & Lawndale Blvd. BART to South San Francisco, then about a 1-mile walk.

The Fillmore Auditorium was at Fillmore Street and Geary Boulevard, and it still stands and hosts live music. Bus 38L. Winterland Ballroom, home of the final concerts of The Band (filmed as The Last Waltz) and the Sex Pistols, was around the corner from the Fillmore at Post & Steiner Streets. And the legendary corner of Haight & Ashbury Streets can be reached via the 30 Bus, taking it to Haight and Masonic Avenue and walking 1 block west.

Oakland isn't much of a museum city, especially compared with San Francisco across the Bay. But the Oakland Museum of California (10th & Oak, Lake Merritt BART) and the Chabot Space & Science Center (10000 Skyline Blvd., not accessible by BART) may be worth a look.

San Francisco, like New York, has a Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA), at 151 3rd Street, downtown. The California Palace of the Legion of Honor is probably the city’s most famous museum, in Lincoln Park at the northwestern corner of the city, near the Presidio and the Golden Gate Bridge. (Any of you who are Trekkies, the Presidio is a now-closed military base that, in the Star Trek Universe, is the seat of Starfleet Command and Starfleet Academy.)

The Palace of Fine Arts isn't just an art museum, it has a theater that hosted one of the 1976 Presidential Debates between Gerald Ford and Jimmy Carter -- the one where Ford said, "There is no Soviet domination in Eastern Europe." 3301 Lyon Street. Bus 30.

The tallest building in Northern California is the iconic Transamerica Pyramid, 853 feet high, opening in 1972 at 600 Montgomery Street downtown. If all goes according to schedule, it will be superseded next year by the Salesforce Tower, also downtown, at 415 Mission Street, rising 1,070 feet. Another skyscraper will open around the same time in Los Angeles, slightly higher, so the Salesforce Tower won't be the tallest building in California, much less the American West.

And don't forget to take a ride on one of them cable cars I’ve been hearing so dang much about.

While San Francisco has been the setting for lots of TV shows (from Ironside and The Streets of San Francisco in the 1970s, to Full House and Dharma & Greg in the 1990s), Oakland, being much less glamorous, has had only one that I know of: Hangin' With Mr. Cooper, comedian Mark Curry's show about a former basketball player who returns to his old high school to teach.

In contrast, lots of movies have been shot in Oakland, including a pair of baseball-themed movies shot at the Coliseum: Moneyball, based on Michael Lewis' book about the early 2000s A's, with Brad Pitt as general manager Billy Beane; and the 1994 remake of Angels In the Outfield, filmed there because a recent earthquake had damaged the real-life Angels' Anaheim Stadium, and it couldn't be repaired in time for filming.

Oakland's status as a Navy city has allowed some nautical-themed films to be filmed there, including the 1934 pirate classic Treasure Island, various versions of The Sea Wolf, the World War I film Hell's Angels (predating the Oakland-based motorcycle gang founded in 1948 and taking the name), the World War II film Thirty Seconds Over Tokyo, and Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home -- with the aircraft carrier USS Enterprise, away at sea, having the USS Ranger stand in for it. Movies set in San Francisco often have Oakland-filmed scenes, including Pal Joey, Mahogany, Basic Instinct, and the James Bond film A View to a Kill. The Jim Belushi film The Principal and Janet Jackson's gang-themed debut, Poetic Justice, were Oakland all the way. Robin Williams, a San Francisco native, filmed scenes from Mrs. Doubtfire and Flubber in Oakland. And the aforementioned George Lucas made his first film, THX-1138, in Oakland in 1970.

The Fan, about a fan's obsession with a Giants player, filmed at Candlestick Park. So did Experiment In Terror, Freebie and the Bean, and Contagion.


So, if you can afford it, go on out and join your fellow Knick or Net fans in going coast-to-coast, and take on the defending World Champions, the Golden State Warriors. They should inspire your team. After all, the Knicks (in the NBA) and the Nets (in the ABA) also haven't won a league title since the mid-1970s. If the Warriors can do it, there is hope!

No comments: