Sunday, October 31, 2021

How To Be a Devils Fan In San Jose -- 2021-22 Edition

This coming Saturday night, the Devils will be in the San Francisco Bay Area, to play the San Jose Sharks.

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 websites of the San Jose Mercury News and the Oakland Tribune,
and SFgate.com, the website of the San Francisco Chronicle, should be checked before you leave. For most of next week, they're predicting the high 60s during the day and the low 50s at night, with no rain.

San Jose, the Bay Area as a whole, and the entire State of California are in the Pacific Time Zone, 3 hours behind New York and New Jersey. Adjust your timepieces accordingly.

Tickets. The Sharks were averaging 16,518 fans per game this season, about 94 percent of capacity, before COVID shut everything down. It may be easier to get their tickets than at any time in their history.

Seats in the lower level, the 100 sections, are $134 between the goals and $102 behind them. In the upper level, the 200 sections, they're $59 between the goals and $44 behind them.

Getting There. It's 2,906 miles from Times Square in Midtown Manhattan to Union Square in downtown San Francisco, and 2,928 miles from the Prudential Center in Newark to the SAP Center at San Jose. This is the 2nd-longest Devils roadtrip, behind only Vancouver. 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.

If you're driving directly to San Jose (i.e., if your hotel is there), then, 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 3A, for Santa Clara Street.

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 San Jose, at 70 S. Almaden Avenue at Post Street, within walking distance of the arena. 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 Friday morning to get there by Monday gametime. Round-trip fare is $642, but it can drop to as little as $473 with advanced purchase.

On Amtrak, to make it in time for a Thursday night puck-drop, you would leave Penn Station on the Lake Shore Limited at 3:40 PM on Monday, arrive at Union Station in Chicago at 9:50 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: $482, which could end up being more than the plane. Then you'd have to get to downtown San Jose.

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 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 6:47 PM the next day. So we're talking a Wednesday to the next week's Wednesday operation by train.

Newark to San Francisco is sometimes a relatively cheap flight, considering the distance. This week, you can get a round-trip nonstop flight on United Airlines for only $351 -- cheaper than Amtrak or Greyhound. BART from SFO to downtown San Francisco takes 30 minutes, and it's $8.65. San Jose does have its own airport, named for the still-living former Congressman Norman Y. Mineta, but it's a little more expensive, and it won't be nonstop.

If you're trying to get from downtown San Francisco to San Jose, a 48-mile trip, CalTrain takes an hour and a half, and it's $19.50 round-trip to Diridon Station, 65 Cahill Street, 2 blocks south of the arena.

Once In the City. San Francisco was settled in 1776, and named for St. Francis of Assisi. San Jose was settled the next year, and named for Joseph, Jesus' earthly father. Both were incorporated in 1850. Oakland was founded in 1852, and named for oak trees in the area.

With the growth of the computer industry, San Jose has become the largest city in the San Francisco Bay Area, with a little over 1 million people. San Francisco has about 870,000, and Oakland 420,000. Overall, the Bay Area is home to 8.7 million people and rising, making it the 4th largest metropolitan area in North America, behind New York with 23 million, Los Angeles with 18 million, and Chicago with just under 10 million.

San Francisco doesn't really have a "city centerpoint," although street addresses seem to start at Market Street, which runs diagonally across the southeastern sector of the city, and contains the city's 8 stops on the Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) subway system. Interstates 280 and 680 form a "beltway" for San Jose.

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. San Jose's street addresses are centered on 1st Street and Santa Clara Street.
A BART train

A BART ride within San Francisco is $1.75; going from downtown to Daly City, where the Cow Palace is, is $3.00; going from downtown SF to downtown Oakland is $3.15, and from downtown SF to the Oakland Coliseum complex is $3.85. In addition to BART, CalTrain and ACE -- Altamont Commuter Express -- link the Peninsula with San Francisco and San Jose.
CalTrain

The sales tax in California is 6.5 percent, and it rises to 8.75 percent within the City of San Francisco and the City of San Jose. It's 9 percent in Alameda County, including the City of Oakland. In San Francisco, food and pharmaceuticals are exempt from sales tax. (Buying marijuana from a street dealer doesn't count as such a "pharmaceutical," and pot brownies wouldn't count as such a "food." Although he probably wouldn't charge sales tax -- then again, it might be marked up so much, the sales tax would actually be a break.)

ZIP Codes for the South Bay area, including San Jose and Santa Clara, start with the digits 943, 944, 950, 951 and 954. The Area Codes are 408 and 831, overlaid by 669.

San Francisco's electric company is called Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E). In addition to being the wealthiest metro area in the country, ahead of New York and Washington, the Bay Area is one of the most ethnically diverse, with 32 percent of the population being foreign-born.

Of the 9 Counties usually included in "the Bay Area," 42 percent of the population is white, 24 percent Hispanic (the vast majority of those being of Mexican descent), 18 percent East Asian (highest in the world outside of Asia, except for Vancouver), 7 percent black, 4 percent South Asian, 4 percent Middle Eastern, and half a percent each Native American and Pacific Islander.

San Francisco became well-known for its Chinatown, as Chinese and Chinese Americans are the largest ethnic group in San Francisco itself, with 21 percent. Daly City, just south of the city, home to the Cow Palace arena, is 58.4 percent Asian, the highest percentage in the U.S. outside of Hawaii. San Jose has more Filipinos than any city outside the Philippines, and more Vietnamese than any city outside Vietnam. In total numbers of Asians, New York ranks 1st in the nation, Los Angeles 2nd, San Jose 3rd and San Francisco 4th.

The City also became well-known for its North Beach neighborhood, which became its "Little Italy," and the West Coast hub of the Beat Generation in the 1950s. The Mission District, once mostly Irish, is now mostly Central American, particularly Salvadoran and Guatemalan.

Despite its name, Russian Hill hasn't had much of a Russian presence in over 200 years. That was not the case with the Castro District, where even after Russia sold Alaska to the U.S. in 1867, there were significant numbers of people from the Russian Empire, including, at the time, Finland. In the early 20th Century, it was known as Little Scandinavia, because Norwegians, Swedes and Danes joined the Finns there.

During the Great Depression, just as Southerners went to Southern California in search of work, working-class people of Irish, Italian and Polish descent went to San Francisco, especially the Castro. And many closeted soldiers and sailors, returning from the Pacific Theater of World War II, decided to stay instead of going home, and built the largest gay village in America except for New York's Greenwich Village. Just as Haight-Ashbury led the way for the Hippies, for gay America, the Seventies were their "Sixties."

Oakland has a black majority, and became known as the birthplace of the Black Panther Party and, along with South Central Los Angeles, the West Coast rap scene. As recently as 1970, 1 out of 7 San Franciscans was black, but as the black middle class grew, they were able to afford better places to live, and, in recognition of Oakland's role, abandoned "The Harlem of the West," once the home of a thriving jazz scene (part of what attracted the Beat writers), and headed for the East Bay. San Jose has a Hispanic plurality, which may be a big reason why Major League Soccer put a team there, instead of in San Francisco or Oakland.

Despite its image as a city of peace and love, San Francisco, and the surrounding Bay Area, have had their share of civic strife. There were riots in Watsonville, outside Santa Cruz, against Filipinos in 1930; the Berkeley Police crushing the People's Park movement in 1969; the "White Night" in 1979, after the acquittal-on-lesser-charges of former San Francisco Supervisor Dan White for his assassination the year before of Mayor George Moscone and openly gay Supervisor Harvey Milk; and a riot in Oakland in 2009.

Important to note: Do not call San Francisco "Frisco." They hate that. "San Fran" is okay. And, like New York (sometimes more specifically, Manhattan), area residents tend to call it "The City." For a time, the Golden State Warriors, then named the San Francisco Warriors, actually had "THE CITY" on their jerseys. They will occasionally bring back throwback jerseys saying that. And, for Oakland, they've had jerseys saying "THE TOWN."

Going In. Named the San Jose Arena from its 1993 opening until 2001, the Compaq Center at San Jose until 2002, and the HP Pavilion at San Jose until 2013, the SAP Center at San Jose, a.k.a. the Shark Tank, is easily identifiable by its triangular, "shark-toothed" roof.
In spite of being in San Jose, the heart of Silicon Valley, with all those American tech companies, the arena's naming rights are owned by SAP SE, a German software company.

The official address is 525 W. Santa Clara Street, across Los Gatos Creek, just to the west of downtown San Jose. It's 48 miles southeast of downtown San Francisco, and 42 miles southeast of downtown Oakland.

If you're driving in, there's plenty of parking, as it's a mile west of downtown, and it's cheap at $9.50. Most likely, someone who drove in would enter from the north or the west gate. The rink runs northeast-to-southwest. The Sharks attack twice at the northeast end.
The arena also hosts the San Jose Barracudas of the American Hockey League. The Golden State Warriors played the 1996-97 season there, while their arena at the Oakland Coliseum complex, now named the Oracle Arena, was being renovated. The San Jose SaberCats of the Arena Football League played there, making the Playoffs 16 times, winning 10 Division titles and 4 ArenaBowls: 2002, 2004, 2007 and 2015. And yet, despite being the current holders of the league title, the SaberCats have suspended operations.

In the entire world, only Madison Square Garden, the Manchester Evening News Arena in England, and the Scotiabank Arena in Toronto are stadiums or arenas that sell more tickets to non-sporting events, including concerts and wrestling.

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.

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. San Jose's arena benefits from this.

Classix stands are at Sections 103, 113, 116 and 128. These have Nachos, Polish sausage, salad, fruit and snacks. Show Dogs has a specialty hot dog and baked potato stand at 104. Gordon Biersch, at 106, has the classic made famous at Giants games, Garlic Fries.

At 109 and 123, GrillWorks has Philly-style cheesesteaks, burgers, fries, onion rings and sausage. At 110, Sweet Spot has ice cream, cupcakes and cotton candy. At 117 and 127, Rio Adobe has Mexican food. At 118, Le Boulanger has sandwiches, salads and chowder bread bowls. At 120, Panda Express has Chinese food. At 121, Amici's has pizza. At 126, Togo's has deli sandwiches.

In the upper level, at 206, Armadillo Willy's has barbecue. At 210, The Carvery has deli sandwiches. At 220, Sonoma Chicken Coop has chicken dishes. And at 223, Pasta Pomodora has Italian food.

Team History Displays. The Sharks haven't yet won a Stanley Cup. The 2015-16 season was the 1st in which they won a Western Conference Championship. In only 4 seasons have they even reached the Conference Finals: In 2004, 2010, 2011 and 2016.

They did win the President's Trophy, for best overall record in the League, in the 2009 season, for which they also hang a banner for being "Western Conference Regular Season Champions." And they've won 7 Division Championships: 2002, 2004, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011 and 2016. They have banners reflecting these titles, hanging from the rafters at the northeast end.
Despite celebrating their 30th Anniversary in 2021, the Sharks have not yet retired any numbers, although they do have a banner with "GGIII" on it, in memory of founding co-owner George Gund III. There are 6 players who played for them who have been inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame, but, between them, played less than 11 full seasons for them: Igor Larionov, Ed Belfour, Rob Blake, Sergei Makarov, Teemu Selänne, and Doug Wilson, who was their 1st Captain and is now their general manager.

The Sharks did, however, have fan voting in 2016, for their 25th Anniversary Team, as follows: Forwards Patrick Marleau, Owen Nolan, Joe Thornton, Jonathan Cheechoo, Joe Pavleski and Mike Ricci; defensemen Brent Burns, Marc-Edouard Vlasic, Dan Boyle and Douglas Murray; and goaltenders Evgeni Nabokov and Arturs Irbe. 

Mark Pavelich, a member of the Gold Medal-winning 1980 U.S. Olympic hockey team, lasted long enough in the NHL to become an original Shark in 1991-92, even assisting Craig Coxe on the team's 1st-ever regular-season goal.

No players who had yet played for the Sharks, and no players from the Seals franchise, where named to The Hockey News' 100 Greatest Players in 1998. Selänne was the only one selected in 2017 for the NHL's 100th Anniversary 100 Greatest Players.

George Gund III was given the Lester Patrick Trophy, for contributions to hockey in America. Irbe was elected to the International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) Hall of Fame.

The Bay Area Sports Hall of Fame (BASHOF) is unusual in that its exhibits are spread over several locations. No induction plaques are on display at the SAP Center. Owen Nolan recently became the 1st Shark inducted. None have yet followed him. Nor have any Seals.

The Northern California vs. Southern California rivalry, San Francisco vs. Los Angeles, epitomized by Giants vs. Dodgers, 49ers vs. Rams, Earthquakes vs. Galaxy, and to a lesser extent Warriors vs. Lakers, has definitely carried over into Sharks vs. Kings. In spite of the Kings having more tangible success, the Sharks actually lead the all-time rivalry, 102-81-7. They've met in the Playoffs 4 times, with the Sharks winning in 2011 and 2016, and the Kings winning in 2013 and 2014.

Stuff. The Sharks Store is on the south side of the arena, on the ground floor. They also have team stores throughout the Bay Area. These stores include hats with shark fins on them.

The Giants, the A's, the 49ers, the Raiders, and even the Warriors are historic Bay Area sports teams, with 17 World Championships and 25 finals appearances between them. But in a quarter of a century, the Sharks have never been to a Stanley Cup Finals. So there is no video retrospective, and even books about them are few and far between. You would think that the 25th Anniversary would have changed this, but this doesn't seem to be the case.

In 1994, entering their 4th season and coming off 2 awful expansion seasons and a 3rd with an epic 8th seed vs. 1st seed Playoff upset of the Detroit Red Wings, Steve Cameron wrote Feeding Frenzy! The Wild New World of the San Jose Sharks. In 2001, Ken Arnold wrote Decade of Teal: 10 Years With the San Jose Sharks. And, in 2015, Michaela James wrote the Sharks' entry in the Inside the NHL series.

During the Game. A November 19, 2014 article on The Hockey News' website ranked the NHL teams' fan bases, and listed the Sharks' fans 15th, right in the middle: "Fans come out in droves, but middling ratings otherwise push them down."

This is not a Raider game, where people came dressed as pirates, biker gangsters, Darth Vader, the Grim Reaper, and so on. Nor is this a Giant game, where you might have to worry about wearing Dodger gear. This is a Sharks game. While they're not particularly fond of their fellow West Coasters -- the Los Angeles Kings, the Anaheim Ducks or the Vancouver Canucks -- you will be safe wearing your Devils colors.

The Sharks skate onto the ice through a large shark mouth around the tunnel entrance, to the tune of Metallica's "Seek and Destroy." They have a variation on the "Hey, you suck!" chant by yelling it at the entire opposing team after they're introduced.

This game will not feature a promotion. They hold auditions for National Anthem singers, instead of having a regular. After years of having "Rock and Roll Part II" by Gary Glitter as their goal song, they wisely dropped the convicted sex offender's song and had new a "Hey Song" written and recorded for them by a local group called SixxAM.
The mascot is S.J. Sharkie (S.J. for San Jose), although he looks more like a weird dog than a man-eating fish.
Just when you thought it was safe to go back in the library.

As a Sharks power play begins, the theme from Jaws plays, and the fans move their arms like shark jaws, similar to the University of Florida "Gator Grab." When the familiar "Da da da DAT da DAAAA!" is played, instead of "Charge!" the response is "Sharks!"

And, trying to copy the tradition from Detroit of throwing an octopus onto the ice, Sharks fans have taken to throwing leopard sharks, a small variety of the fish, onto the ice.
No, I'm not kidding.

After the Game. Again, Shark fans are not Raider fans. And the San Jose arena is far from any crime issues. Don't antagonize anyone, and you'll be fine.

If you want to go out for a postgame meal or drinks, across the railroad tracks, Santa Clara Street becomes The Alameda, and at 754 The Alameda is a place with a name that sort of ties into the Sharks' theme: Bluefin Sushi & Japanese Restaurant.

If you want something on the go, a Whole Foods is at 777 The Alameda. The Poor House Bistro is just down the block at 91 S. Autumn Street. (It's still under temporary closure due to COVID.) Henry's World Famous Hi-Life, a renowned Bay Area barbecue joint, is just across the Guadalupe River at 301 W. St. John Street.

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. And Greens Sports Bar, at 2239 Polk at Green Street, is also said to be a Yankee-friendly bar. A recent Thrillist article on the best sports bars in every State named as California's the Kezar Pub, at 770 Stanyan Street, opposite the new Kezar Stadium in Golden Gate Park. Number 7 bus. Of course, you'll have to cross the Bay by car or by BART to get to these bars.

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; and Danny Coyle's, 668 Haight Street, MUNI N Line or Bus 6.

Sidelights. The San Francisco Bay Area, including the East Bay (which includes Oakland), has a very rich sports history. On November 30, 2018, Thrillist published a list of "America's 25 Most Fun Cities," and, as you might expect from the nation's 4th largest metropolitan area, the San Francisco Bay Area came in 4th. Here are some of the highlights:

* Oracle Park. Home of the Giants, under various names, 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.

* Oakland Coliseum complex. This 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 from 1995 to last year; 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 from 1971 until 2019, except for a one-year hiatus in San Jose while it was being renovated, 1996-97.

The Oakland Clippers, the only champions the National Professional Soccer League would know, played at the Coliseum in 1967 and 1968, beating the Baltimore Bays 4-1 in the 2nd leg of the 1967 NPSL Final to win 4-2 on aggregate, before the NPSL merged with the North American Soccer League the next year. The Bay Area's former NHL team, the Oakland Seals/California Golden Seals, played at the arena from 1967 to 1976.

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 in 2005.

* New A's Ballpark. In 2019, the A's announced that they'd chosen the Howard Terminal as the site for a 34,000-seat ballpark, which, presuming they clear all the necessary permissions, and come up with all the funding themselves as they say they will -- no government money and therefore no taxes -- they can begin construction in time to open for the 2025 season.

1 Market Street, 3 blocks west of the Clay Street Ferry Terminal, 5 blocks west of Jack London Square, and 8 blocks south of downtown. From Oakland City Center: Bus 72 to Jack London Square. By BART: Lake Merritt Station, then Bus 62 or 72 to 7th & Market, then 8 blocks south.)

* Chase Center. The new home of the Warriors opened in 2019. It seats 18,064, and is located off the Central Basin of San Francisco Bay, on land bordered by South Street, 3rd Street (north-south), 16th Street (east-west) and Terry A. Francois Blvd., across from the campus of the University of California at San Francisco, and 8 blocks south of the Giants' AT&T Park. Light Rail K or T to UCSF/Mission Bay.

* 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 be 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 1st stadiums to have it – though, to the city's credit, it was also the 1st NFL stadium and the 2nd MLB stadium (after Comiskey Park in Chicago) to switch back to real grass.

It is easily the most-hated venue in the history of North American sports. But its finest hour came on October 17, 1989, just before Game 3 of the World Series, when the Loma Prieta Earthquake struck. Over 60,000 people were inside the stadium, and they all got out okay, because the stadium's reinforced concrete held, with only minor damage.

The Giants only won 2 Pennants there, and never a World Series. But the 49ers 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 there in the 1990 NFC Championship Game, scoring no touchdowns but winning 15-13 thanks to 5 Matt Bahr field goals. ABC and ESPN hosted Monday Night Football at Candlestick 36 times, the most of any stadium.
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 Levi's Stadium ready for the 2014 season.

The U.S. national soccer team played their 4th and final match there in 2014, a win over Azerbaijan. MLS' San Jose Earthquakes played there on July 27, which ended up being the last competitive sporting event held there. On July 12, nearly 30 years after their Super Bowl XIX matchup, legendary quarterbacks Joe Montana of the 49ers and Dan Marino of the Miami Dolphins led teams in a flag football game there, with the proceeds going to charity. And Paul McCartney, having played its 1st concert with the Beatles 48 years earlier, played its last concert on August 14, the last scheduled show before the place was demolished.

A plan to build retail and housing units on the site has stalled, and it remains vacant. Ironically, since it replaced the original Kezar Stadium, 5,000 of Candlestick's seats went to the new Kezar.

The best way 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 blame you if you crossed it off the list.

In spite of the Raiders' now-ended 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 from then until the Rams' 2016 return.

* 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. Rocky Marciano defended the Heavyweight Championship of the World there on May 16, 1955, knocking British fighter Don Cockell out in the 9th round.

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.

* 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.

* 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. (Yes, the Republicans came here, not the "hippie" Democrats.)
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 Barry Goldwater of Arizona 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. It hosted 1 fight for the Heavyweight Championship of the World, with Ezzard Charles defending the title by beating Pat Valentino on October 14, 1949.
A Sharks game at the Cow Palace

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 Presley 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.

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.

While Fresno is nearly 200 miles southeast, it's closer to San Jose 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.

* 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 known as "The Field of Jeans."

In 2016, it hosted Super Bowl 50 on February 7, with the Denver Broncos beating the Carolina Panthers; an NHL Stadium Series outdoor hockey game there on February 21, with the Sharks losing to their arch-rivals, the Los Angeles Kings; and, on June 3, 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 hosted the College Football Playoff National Championship, with Clemson beating Alabama. It has been selected by the U.S. Soccer Federation as a finalist to be one of the host venues for the 2026 World Cup.

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.

* PayPal Park. The new stadium for the San Jose Earthquakes opened in 2015, and nearby tech company Avaya had its naming rights until 2019. 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. It hosted its 1st U.S. national team game on March 24, 2017, a 6-0 win over Honduras. On February 2, 2019, it hosted a 2-0 USMNT win over Costa Rica. 

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 was a neutral site hosting Soccer Bowl '75, in which the Tampa Bay Rowdies beat the Portland Timbers 2-0. 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.

On November 19, 2018, Moneywise compiled a list of their Worst College Football Stadiums, the bottom 19 percent of college football, 25 out of 129. Spartan Stadium, now named CEFCU Stadium, came in 5th: The article called the New Deal era stadium "tired," and cited bad concessions and the fact that the field was Astroturf, the original artificial turf that has proven so dangerous, and not a more modern, safer synthetic grass like FieldTurf.

San Jose State was also the alma mater of Tommie Smith and John Carlos, the Gold and Bronze Medalists in the 200 meters at the 1968 Olympics in Mexico City, who then gave their glove-fisted salute for civil rights (most people still don't understand that it wasn't a "Black Power" salute) on the medal platform, to short-term anger and long-term praise.

In 2005, SJSU dedicated a statue commemorating the occasion, with the Silver Medal part of the platform, where Australian runner Peter Norman would have stood, empty so people can pose with the Smith and Carlos figures. Outside Clark Hall, where 6th and San Antonio Streets would have met.
Smith and Carlos at their statue

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 station.

Despite all its contributions to women's soccer, the Bay Area no longer has a professional women's team. The San Jose CyberRays of the Women's United Soccer Association (WUSA), captained by 1999 penalty hero Brandi Chastain, played at Spartan Stadium from 2001 to 2003, winning the 2001 league title.

FC Gold Pride won the 2010 title in the league named Women's Professional Soccer (WPS), but couldn't sustain itself financially, and folded immediately thereafter. Pioneer Stadium, Hayward. 25800 Carlos Bee Blvd., on the campus of California State University-East Bay, in Hayward. About 28 miles from San Francisco, 19 from Oakland, 28 from San Jose. BART to Hayward, then Bus 60.

* 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.

* Mechanic's Pavilion. Knowing that the drying up of the Gold Rush had put many of the original "Forty-Niners" out of work, with no educational background to support them, a group of charitable San Franciscans opened the Mechanics' Institute in 1854. It offered classes in woodworking, mechanical drawing, industrial design, electrical science, applied mathematics and ironwork. It is often said to be the predecessor of the University of California system.

In 1865, the adjoining Mechanic's Pavilion was built, hosting several major events, including a speech by President Theodore Roosevelt on his 1902 tour of the country.

This also included 4 fights for the Heavyweight Championship of the World, each time with a Californian defending the title: "Gentleman Jim" Corbett against Tom Sharkey on June 24, 1896 (a draw, thus allowing Corbett to retain the title); Jim Jeffries against Gus Ruhlin on November 15, 1901; Jeffries against Corbett on August 14, 1903 (the 10th-round knockout turning out to be Corbett's last fight); and Jeffries against Jack Munroe on August 26, 1904 (after which Jeffries retired, only to return and get clobbered by Jack Johnson in Reno in 1910).

The 1906 earthquake and fire destroyed Mechanic's Pavilion, but the men running the Mechanics' Institute kept it going and helped with the rebuilding of the city. Today, membership in the Institute is still open to the pubic, offering the full services of the library, and to the chess room, home of the oldest continuously operating chess club in the Western Hemisphere. 57 Post Street, off Kearny Street, downtown.

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.

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

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.

The San Jose Museum of Art is at 110 S. Market Street. The Tech Museum of Innovation, something you might expect to see in the capital of Silicon Valley, is a block away at 201 S. Market. Both are downtown.

The tallest building in Northern California is the new Salesforce Tower, downtown, at 415 Mission Street, rising 1,070 feet. It surpassed the iconic Transamerica Pyramid, 853 feet high, opening in 1972 at 600 Montgomery Street, also downtown. Unlike its anchor to the north, San Jose isn't a big skyscraper city. Its tallest building is "The 88," at 88 San Fernando Street, just 286 feet high.

Earl Warren, then Governor, was nominated for Vice President by the Republicans in 1948, before becoming Chief Justice of the United States, but, while he went to Berkeley and lived in Oakland, he grew up in Bakersfield. Pat Brown, whom Warren crossed party lines to support for San Francisco District Attorney, was elected to 3 terms as Governor, but his 1960 Presidential bid fizzled. His son Jerry was both the youngest (1975-82, 36) and the oldest (2011-present, almost 78) Governor in the State's history, but his 1976, '80 and '92 Presidential runs also went nowhere. And no Bay Area politician has even gotten that close since.

As I said earlier, the Republicans had their 1956 and 1964 Conventions at the Cow Palace, nominating Dwight D. Eisenhower successfully and Barry Goldwater unsuccessfully, respectively, for President. The Democrats had their 1920 Convention at the aforementioned Civic Auditorium, nominating Governor Jim Cox of Ohio, who lost to Warren Harding in a massive landslide. They returned in 1984, to the Moscone Convention Center, named for Mayor George Moscone, elected in 1975 assassinated in 1978, along with Supervisor Harvey Milk. 747 Howard Street, downtown.

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.

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. The 2010-15 NBC series Parenthood, loosely based on the 1989 film of the same name, was set in Berkeley. And San Jose hasn't had even that much.

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.

Movies set in San Francisco often take advantage of the city's topography, and include the Dirty Harry series, Bullitt (based on the same real-life cop, Dave Toschi); The Maltese Falcon, starring Humphrey Bogart; Woody Allen's Bogart tribute, Play It Again, Sam; The Lady from Shanghai, the original version of D.O.A.48 Hrs., and Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home -- with the aircraft carrier USS Ranger, at the Alameda naval base, standing in for the carrier USS Enterprise, which was then away at sea and unavailable.

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.

The 1936 film San Francisco takes place around the earthquake and fire that devastated the city in 1906. And Milk starred Sean Penn as Harvey Milk, America's 1st openly gay successful politician, elected to San Francisco's Board of Supervisors in 1977 before being assassinated with Mayor George Moscone the next year.

Movies set in San Francisco often have scenes filmed there and in Oakland, including Pal Joey, Mahogany, Basic Instinct, the James Bond film A View to a Kill, and Mrs. Doubtfire, starring San Francisco native Robin Williams.

San Jose hasn't yet been as lucky. No notable TV show has been set or filmed there. Alfred Hitchcock filmed Vertigo and The Birds in and around San Francisco, but used San Jose's Diridon Station as a stand-in for a Connecticut station for his 1964 film Marnie.

For legal reasons, the CBS medical drama Trapper John, M.D., starring former Bonanza star Pernell Roberts as Dr. John McIntyre, was said to be a sequel to the film version of M*A*S*H, where Trapper was played by Elliott Gould, not the TV show, where he was played by Wayne Rogers. Thus we have the oddity of Trapper working in a hospital in San Francisco, the hometown (well, the neighboring suburb of Mill Valley, in Marin County, was) of the man who replaced him at the 4077th MASH, B.J. Hunnicutt (Mike Farrell).

Wayne Rogers did play a doctor in a series set in San Francisco, after leaving M*A*S*H, starring with Lynn Redgrave in the 1979-82 sitcom House Calls, set it what was then the present day. Other series set in San Francisco include (separated by category, then by chronological order) the police dramas Ironside, The Streets of San Francisco, McMillan and Wife, Hooperman, Nash Bridges and Monk; the sci-fi/fantasy shows Sliders and Charmed; the family drama Party of Five; and the sitcoms Phyllis, Too Close for Comfort, My Sister Sam, Suddenly Susan, Dhrama & Greg, and Disney's That's So Raven.

The 1957-63 CBS Western Have Gun - Will Travel established the Hotel Carlton in San Francisco as the base of operations for the man known only as Paladin (Richard Boone). Today, there is a hotel by that name in the city, at 1075 Sutter Street in the Nob Hill section.

*

So, if you can afford it, go on out and join your fellow Devils fans in going coast-to-coast, and take on the San Jose Sharks. Just be nice to your hosts, and you should be all right. 

How to Be a New York Basketball Fan In Milwaukee -- 2021-22 Edition

The Brooklyn Nets visited the Milwaukee Bucks on October 19. I did not do a Trip Guide for that game, because it was the season opener, at home, for the defending NBA Champions, so tickets would have been next to impossible to get. The Bucks won, 127-104.

The Nets will visit again on February 26. The Knicks will visit this coming Friday, November 5, and again on January 8.

Before You Go. Milwaukee is on Lake Michigan. It's not Green Bay, but it is still Wisconsin. It gets chilly in the Autumn, let alone in the Winter. Since this will be early November, the weather could be an issue. Although the game will be indoors, you still have to get to it.

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel website is predicting high 40s for Friday afternoon, and mid-30s for the evening. You will need a Winter jacket at night.

Milwaukee is in the Central Time Zone, an hour behind New York. Adjust your various timepieces accordingly.

Tickets. The Bucks averaged 17,603 fans, a sellout, during 2019-20, before COVID shut everything down. And now, they are the defending World Champions. So tickets may be very difficult to get.

In the Lower Level, the 100 sections, they have seats for $165 between the baskets and $90 behind; and, in the Upper Level, the 200 sections, they're $67 between and $45 behind.

Getting There. Downtown Milwaukee is 892 land miles from Times Square. Knowing this, your first reaction is going to be to fly out there.

At first, unlike some other Midwestern cities, this seems like a good idea if you can afford it. Most airlines can fly you there for $519 round-trip. However, there is a catch: There are few non-stops between any of the New York area airports and General Mitchell International Airport in Milwaukee. You will almost certainly have to change planes, most likely in Chicago, and you'll spend nearly as much time on the ground at O'Hare as you do in the air. The GRE bus will get you downtown in a little over half an hour. (Billy Mitchell was a Milwaukee-area native and an early advocate for air power.)

The Milwaukee Intermodal Station, which serves both Greyhound and Amtrak, is at 433 W. St. Paul Avenue, at 5th Street. There are 4 daily Greyhound runs that will get you from New York to Milwaukee. Most of these runs require 2 changeovers, in Indianapolis and Chicago. Round-trip fare is $612, but you can get it for $357 on advanced purchase.
Milwaukee Intermodal Station

Amtrak's Lake Shore Limited (formerly known as the Twentieth Century Limited when the old New York Central Railroad ran it from Grand Central Terminal to Chicago's LaSalle Street Station) leaves New York's Penn Station at 3:40 every afternoon, and arrives at Union Station at 225 South Canal Street in Chicago at 9:50 (Central Time) every morning. From there, you have to wait until 11:05 AM to get on "Hiawatha Service," which will bring you to Milwaukee at 12:34. That's 21 hours, 49 minutes. Round-trip fare is $306 -- this time, possibly, cheaper than Greyhound.

If you decide to drive, it's far enough that it will help to get someone to go with you and split the duties, and to trade off driving and sleeping.  You'll need to get into New Jersey, and take Interstate 80 West. You'll be on I-80 for the vast majority of the trip, through New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Ohio. In Ohio, in the western suburbs of Cleveland, I-80 will merge with Interstate 90.

From this point onward, you won't need to think about I-80 until you head home; I-90 is the key, until it merges with Interstate 94, which will merge with Interstate 43. Stay on I-43 after I-94 splits off south of downtown. Take Exit 73A onto Wisconsin Route 145, which will become N. 6th Street. Take that to State Street, and the Bradley Center will be on the left.

If you do it right, you should spend about an hour and a half in New Jersey, 5 hours and 15 minutes in Pennsylvania, 4 hours in Ohio, 2 hours and 30 minutes in Indiana, an hour and a half in Illinois, and just under an hour in Wisconsin. That's about 15 hours and 45 minutes. Counting rest stops, and accounting for traffic in both New York and Chicago, it should be no more than 20 hours, which would save you time on both Greyhound and Amtrak, if not on flying.

Once In the City. As Alice Cooper taught us in the film version of Wayne's World, Milwaukee gets its name from a Native American word meaning "the good land." But this may not be correct: Another version says the name comes a word meaning "Gathering place by the water."

Whichever version is true, both descriptions are accurate: The land of Wisconsin is good for farming, and Milwaukee is based on a confluence of 3 rivers that flow into Lake Michigan: The Milwaukee, the Menomonee, and the Kinnickinnic; so there's plenty of water. The Menomonee River separates the city's streets into North and South, and the other 2 rivers separate them into East and West.
Milwaukee's historic City Hall

Founded in 1846, the city has about 600,000 people, making it the 3rd-largest in the Great Lakes region behind Chicago and Detroit. But the metropolitan area has only about 2 million, making it 27th among the 30 NBA teams, ahead of only New Orleans, Oklahoma City and Memphis. (Throwing in Green Bay's metro area only boosts it by about 325,000, and doesn't raise their ranking at all.)

Milwaukee was about 72 percent white as recently as 1980, but is now about 42 percent black, 37 percent white, 17 percent Hispanic, and 4 percent Asian. The German presence that established the city as a major brewing center is still in place, about 21 percent, or more than half of the white population. Poles make up about 9 percent, Irish 6 percent, Italian 3 percent, with some of mixed heritage. Most of the Hispanics, as is the case with most Midwestern cities, are Mexican.

On July 30, 1967, right after it happened in Newark and Detroit, Milwaukee was struck with a race riot. They were lucky in that only 4 people died. In 2002, Jet magazine called Milwaukee "the most segregated city in the United States." In 2011, a University of Michigan study backed this up. North of the Menomonee River, but west of the Milwaukee River, the city is mostly black. North of the Menomonee, but east of the Milwaukee, and in the suburbs, it's mostly white. South of the Menomonee River, it's mostly Hispanic.

In 2015, the news site 24/7 Wall Street labeled Milwaukee "the worst place for African-Americans to live," despite the Sheriff of Milwaukee County being black. But that Sheriff was David Clarke, an arch-conservative and a Trump ally, who said that the Black Lives Matter group had to be "eradicated."

Wisconsin Electric Power Company runs the city's electricity. Milwaukee doesn't have a subway. The Milwaukee County Transit System has a fare of $2.25 for its buses. Wisconsin's sales tax is 5 percent, but inside Milwaukee County, it's 5.6 percent. Which is still lower than those of the States of New York, New Jersey and Connecticut even before local taxes are added on.

ZIP Codes in Wisconsin start with the digits 53 and 54, and for the Milwaukee area, 530, 531 and 532. The Area Code is 414 for the city and 262 for the suburbs. Milwaukee does not have a "beltway."

Going In. The new Fiserv Forum, named for a "provider of financial services technology," has an address of 1111 Vel R. Phillips Avenue. This is a stretch of N. 4th Street, renamed in 2018, upon the death of Velvalea "Vel" Phillips. She was a local judge and the only black person ever elected to Statewide office in Wisconsin (Secretary of State in 1978). It's a short walk from downtown. If you drive in, parking is $11.

The new arena is bounded by 4th and 6th Streets, and Juneau and Highland Avenues. Across Highland, to the south of the new arena, is the old arena, the Bradley Center, officially at 1001 N. 4th Street. To the south of that, across State Street, at 400 W. Kilbourn Avenue, is the previous home of the Bucks, minor-league hockey's Milwaukee Admirals, and Marquette University basketball (back then, they were known as the Warriors, not the Golden Eagles). Built in 1950 as the Milwaukee Arena, it became part of a complex known as the Milwaukee Exposition Convention Center & Arena, or MECCA.
The old Arena, then using the name U.S. Cellular Arena.
Behind it to the left, the Milwaukee Auditorium.
Behind it to the right, the Bradley Center.

The Bucks had to move out, as it seated only 10,783 and had no luxury boxes at all. Now known as the UW-Milwaukee Panther Arena, it holds 12,700 fans, and the University of Wisconsin at Milwaukee plays its home basketball games there. Before the Bucks played there from 1968 to 1988, it was home to the Milwaukee Hawks from 1951 to 1955, when they moved to St. Louis, and then in 1968 to Atlanta.
Overhead shot. Top: Bradley Center.
Bottom: Milwaukee Theatre and MECCA.

Elvis Presley sang at the old arena on June 28, 1974 and April 27, 1977. The Beatles played there on September 4, 1964. The inductees to the Wisconsin Athletic Hall of Fame are honored there in a Wisconsin Athletic Walk of Fame, which includes stars from the Bucks, the Milwaukee Brewers, the Green Bay Packers, the University of Wisconsin Badgers, and State natives who made it big elsewhere.
The Bradley Center was paid for by funds donated by Jane Bradley Pettit and her husband Lloyd Pettit, in memory of her father, factory-equipment magnate Harry Bradley. Lloyd Pettit was the Hall of Fame broadcaster for the Chicago Blackhawks, and the owner of the Milwaukee Admirals of the American Hockey League.

Ironically, Harry Bradley was a big donor to conservative causes, but, for most of the arena's existence, its main tenant, the Bucks, were owned by Herb Kohl, a very liberal U.S. Senator. BMO Harris Bank bought naming rights in 2012.

Milwaukee might be able to support an NHL team, as its metropolitan area population, even without adding Green Bay and Madison to its "market," would rank 26th in the NHL. So it's unlikely that it can support an NBA team and an NHL team.

It's also hosted arena football's Milwaukee Mustangs and indoor soccer's Milwaukee Wave. Although Milwaukee has never had a major league hockey team (not in the NHL or in the WHA), the NCAA has used it as the site of its National Championships, the Frozen Four, in 1993, 1997 and 2006. It's also hosted NCAA Tournament basketball games in the rounds of 64 & 32, and 16 & 8, including the 2013-14 season.
The new arena's exterior is meant to suggest a beer barrel.

But only the Bucks and Marquette have moved into the Fiserv Forum. The Admirals have moved back to the MECCA, and the Bradley Center will likely be demolished. The Forum's court is laid out north-to-south, and it has all the modern amenities that both fans and team owners demand.
The Forum opened on August 26, 2018. Among the musical performers who have already appeared in concert there are The Killers, Maroon 5, Justin Timberlake, Metallica, Foo Fighters, the Glenn Frey-less Eagles and the Lindsay Buckingham-less Fleetwood Mac.

Food. In Big Ten Country, where tailgate parties are practically a sacrament, you would expect the Milwaukee arena to have lots of good options. It certainly does. According to the team website:

Fiserv Forum has an exclusive concessionaire agreement with Levy Restaurants. Levy Restaurants, founded in Chicago in 1978, is recognized as one of America’s fastest growing and most critically acclaimed restaurant companies, and is the leader in premium sports and entertainment dining. Levy was recently named one of the 10 most innovative companies in sports in the world by Fast Company magazine. The company’s diverse portfolio includes award-winning restaurants such as James Beard Award-winning Spiaggia in Chicago, Fulton’s Crab House, Portobello and Wolfgang Puck Grand Café at Walt Disney World Resort, renowned sports and entertainment venues like Churchill Downs in Louisville, STAPLES Center in Los Angeles, and American Airlines Arena in Miami, and events including the Super Bowl, World Series, U. S. Open, Kentucky Derby, NHL and NBA All-Star Games and the GRAMMY® Awards.​ 
Levy Restaurants is proud to present MKE Eats, a program that features food offerings from 10 local restaurants, including Sobelman’s, The Laughing Taco, Iron Grate BBQ, FreshFin Poke, and Collectivo. MKE Eats also includes nationally renowned brands such as Chick-Fil-A, Jack Daniel’s, and Casamigos.
And you thought the TV show set in Milwaukee was called Happy Days because it was set during the 1950s? Nope: It was because of the food! Why do you think they all hung out at Arnold's? Why do you think the Fonz was always telling "Mrs. C" how wonderful her cooking was? Because it was.

Team History Displays. The Bucks have consolidated their banners. They have separate banners for their 1971 and now the 2021 World Championship banners; separate banners for the 1971 and 1974 Western Conference titles, and the 2021 Eastern Conference titles; and one single banner for the Division titles of 1971, 1972, 1973, 1974, 1976, 1980, 1981, 1982, 1983, 1984, 1985, 1986, 2001, 2019, 2020 and 2021.
They have 9 retired numbers:

* From the 1971 title team: 1, guard Oscar Robertson; 10, forward Bob Dandridge; 14, guard Jon McGlocklin; and 33, center Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, who changed his name in 1972, so he was still using his birth name of Lew Alcindor during the title season.

* From the Division title teams of the late 1970s and early 1980s: 2, forward Ulysses "Junior" Bridgeman; 4, guard Sidney Moncrief; 8, forward Marques Johnson; 16, center Bob Lanier; and 32, guard Brian Winters.
Oscar, Kareem and Lanier were elected to the Basketball Hall of Fame. Oscar and Kareem were named to the NBA's 50th Anniversary 50 Greatest Players in 1996. Kareem was also named to the NBA's 35th Anniversary All-Time Team in 1980. Oscar, Kareem and Giannis Antetokounmpo, the Nigerian-born "Greek Freak," were just named to the NBA's 75th Anniversary 75 Greatest players.

So far, the only player elected to the Hall of Fame with significant contributions as a Buck from after 1984 is the newly-elected Ray Allen. His Number 34 has not been retired, and it may not be for some time, as it's currently being worn by Giannis, and will likely be retired for him, and he's only 26 years old.

It's almost the exact opposite of what you would expect from an expansion team: After a weak 1st season, 1968-69, they won the coin flip with the Phoenix Suns for the 1st pick in the Draft, selected Alcindor, and got a title out of it in just 2 seasons. Then, they were a very good team for the next 20 years, but not so much in the last 25. In contrast, the Suns, who also started play in the fall of 1968, have been a respectable team for most of their history, but have never won a title, the difference between their zero and the Bucks' one being a lot bigger than the Bucks' one and, say, the Philadelphia 76ers' two.

Robertson, Bridgman, McGlocklin, Moncrief, Herb Kohl, previous owner Jim Fitzgerald, and Jane Bradley Pettit have been honored in the Wisconsin Athletic Hall of Fame. As I said, it's across the street at the MECCA. Also honored are Marquette basketball figures Al McGuire, George Thompson and Johnny Sisk. So is Shirley Martin, one of the earliest stars of women's basketball.

Marquette also hangs banners at the Fiserv Forum: Their 1977 National Championship; their Final Four berths of 1974, 1977 and 2003; their regular-season conference titles of 1994, 2003 and 2013; and their 1997 conference tournament win. The 1974 and 1977 achievements were won while their home court was the MECCA; from 1988 onward, the Bradley Center.

Marquette has retired the numbers of 9 players: 3, Dwyane Wade; 14, former Knick Dean Meminger; 15, former Knick Butch Lee; 20, Maurice Lucas; 24, George Thompson; 31, for both former Knick Doc Rivers and Bo Ellis; 43, Earl Tatum; and 44, Don Kojis.

They've also retired 11 in honor of the Apollo 11 crew (even though Milwaukee native Jim Lovell flew on Apollo 8 and Apollo 13, and has a street renamed for him), 38 for trainer Bob Weingart, and 77 for coach Al McGuire for the 1977 title. Al grew up in Far Rockaway, Queens, as did his brother Dick, and both played for the Knicks in the 1950s. Dick is in the Hall as a Knick player, Al as Marquette coach.

The University of Wisconsin, in Madison, is the only other Wisconsin school to reach the Final Four, and that was all the way back in 1941, although they've reached hockey's version, the Frozen Four, many times, including 6 National Championships: 1973, 1977, 1981, 1983, 1990 and 2006.

The Admirals took their banners back to the MECCA. They hang them for their 1976 U.S. Hockey League title; their International Hockey League regular season titles of 1983, 1993, 1995 and 1996; their 2004 and 2006 AHL Conference Championships; and their 2004 AHL regular season and Calder Cup titles.

They also hang 7 retired number banners, including 2 retired for 2 players each: 9, 1970s center Phil Wittliff; 14, 1980s center Fred Berry and 1990s center Mike McNeill; 26, 1990s-2000s center Tony Hrkac; 27, 1970s-80s left wing Danny Lecours; and 44, 1980s defenseman Kevin Willison and 1990s center Gino Cavallini. Aside from Cavallini, none of them made much of an impact in the NHL.

Unlike the Brewers-Cubs and Packers-Bears rivalry, the Wisconsin-Illinois rivalry doesn't really make Bucks-Bulls all that intense. and the Wisconsin-Minnesota rivalry, formerly seen in Brewers-Twins and still seen in Packers-Vikings and Badgers-Gophers, hasn't yet made Bucks-Timberwolves a big deal. The Bucks trail the Bulls 132-123, and the T-Wolves 32-31.

Stuff. The Bucks Pro Shop is located in the Fiserv Forum's atrium. And there are several portable kiosks, with locations varying by event.

The Bucks have been around for 50 years now, but because Milwaukee, as a city, gets lost in the shadows not only of Chicago, with the far more noteworthy Bulls 90 miles to the south, but the smaller yet higher-profile city of Green Bay, with the legendary Packers 115 miles to the north, the Bucks tend to get forgotten. They trail not only the Packers, but also the football team at the University of Wisconsin in popularity among Badger State teams. (They may even trail that school's very successful hockey program, even though Milwaukee doesn't have an NHL team.)

As part of the NBA's A History of Hoops series, Nate Leboutillier wrote The Story of the Milwaukee Bucks in 2006; Jim Whiting wrote an update that was published in 2017. Back in 1978, Marv Fishman and Tracy Dodds wrote Bucking the Odds: The Birth of the Milwaukee Bucks, chronicling their rather successful early years. The sports staff of The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel put together a commemorative book for the 2021 title, History Makers.

Forget about DVDs: There is no collection showing the 1971 Finals or a "Greatest Games" series.

During the Game. A November 13, 2014 article on DailyRotoHelp ranked the NBA teams' fan bases, and listed the Bucks' fans in 20th place. This is meant to suggest not that they are unpleasant, but that they are disengaged, that not enough show up, and that not enough of those who do show up generate much of an atmosphere.

Bucks fans, as you might expect in America's foremost brewing city, like to drink. If this were a Packer game and you were wearing Chicago Bears or Minnesota Vikings gear, you might be in trouble. If this were a UW game and you were wearing University of Minnesota gear, you might be in trouble. If this were a Brewers-Cubs game, and you were wearing Cubs gear, you might be in trouble. But this is a Bucks game, and even if you were wearing Chicago Bulls or Minnesota Timberwolves gear, you'd probably be safe. Despite their slogan, you won't need to "Fear the Deer."

None of the Bucks' home games against either of the New York Tri-State Area teams will feature a promotion. The Bucks' mascot is Bango the Buck, presently performed by Kevin Vanderkolk. The word "Bango" was originally coined by Eddie Doucette, the the longtime play-by-play announcer for the Bucks. Doucette used the word whenever a Bucks player connected on a long-range basket, much like old-time Knicks announcer Marty Glickman used "Swish" for a shot that was nothing but net. It was often used for sharpshooter Jon McGlocklin. When it came time for the Bucks to choose a name for their new mascot, the name "Bango" won the contest.
He wears Number 68 in honor of the team's 1968 debut.

Bango has been the Bucks' official mascot for more than 36 years. He made his official debut on October 18, 1977, which was Milwaukee's home opener of the 1977-78 season. (Those of you who are Yankee Fans will recognize the date as the night that Reggie Jackson hit 3 home runs in Game 6 to clinch the World Series.) In addition to the date being Bango's home debut, the game itself pitted Milwaukee against former Bucks center Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and his Los Angeles Lakers at the MECCA. The Bucks won, 117-112.

Bango has worked hard to become popular with Bucks fans all throughout the State of Wisconsin over the years, appearing at schools, parades, and festivals as a goodwill ambassador for the team. His high-flying acrobatic layups, daring rebounds, and other entertaining antics still play an important role in energizing Bucks fans at the Bradley Center.

Since 2001, Bango has also made perennial appearances at the NBA All-Star Game, although he tore an ACL during a stunt at the 2009 All-Star Weekend in Phoenix, and missed the rest of the season. He bounced back, and in 2010 was named NBA Mascot of the Year.

Ben Tajnai is the Bucks' National Anthem singer. They've replaced their 1977 theme song "Green and Growing (The Bucks Don't Stop Here)" with a 2013 theme, "King of the Court." As far as I can tell, there are no traditional chants at Bucks games. Nor does there appear to be a postgame victory song.
Ben Tajnai

After the Game. Milwaukee has some rough neighborhoods, but downtown is safe. Although Milwaukeeans like to drink, this is not a Packers or Badgers game, so you should be fine on your way out.

Unfortunately, I can find no reference to any Milwaukee bar or restaurant that caters to New York expatriates. However, downtown has plenty of places to get a postgame meal, or just a pint. Major Goolsby's, at 340 W. Kilbourn, across 4th from the MECCA, is one of the most famous sports bars in the country. The Mecca Sports Bar, named for the former arena, is across from the Fiserv Forum, at 1134 Phillips Avenue.

If you visit Milwaukee during the European soccer season (which we are now in), the best place to watch your favorite club is the Highbury Pub, at 2322 S. Kinnickinnic Avenue at Lincoln Avenue, about 3 miles south of downtown. Bus 15. Named for the former stadium of Arsenal Football Club, which was named for the North London neighborhood it was in, there is also a bar by that name in Brooklyn.

Sidelights. Milwaukee's sports history is long, but not especially successful, especially when you consider the distance between the city and the State's most successful sports team, the Green Bay Packers.

* American Family Field and site of Milwaukee County Stadium. The old ballpark was located behind the home plate entrance to the new one, which was built across center field from its predecessor. The Braves played at County Stadium from 1953 to 1965, the Brewers from 1970 to 2000, and the Packers played several home games there from 1953 to 1994, first 2 out of their 6 (when the NFL had a 12-game schedule), then 2 of their 7 (14), and finally 3 of their 8 (16), plus a preseason game (an another preseason game at the University of Wisconsin's Camp Randall Stadium).

The Packers played a Playoff game against the Los Angeles Rams at County Stadium in 1967, before winning the NFL Championship against the Dallas Cowboys at Lambeau Field on New Year's Eve, the famed Ice Bowl.

County Stadium hosted the only game, to date, played by the U.S. national soccer team in Wisconsin. It was on July 28, 1990, against East Germany, in one of that foul country's last games before being reunited with their Federal Republic (West German) brothers. We lost.

American Family Field, known as Miller Park from its 2001 opening until 2020, has an official address of 1 Brewers Way. The Number 10 bus goes down Wisconsin Avenue, but its closest point is a little over a mile from the stadium. You'd need to get off at the intersection of Wisconsin Avenue and 44th Street, under I-94, to Selig Drive. You'd make a right on Selig, and on your left will be Miller Park, and on your right is a baseball field on the site of its predecessor, Milwaukee County Stadium.  Make a left on Brewers Way and proceed to the home plate gate.

Lambeau Field in Green Bay is 116 miles from downtown Milwaukee. But the Packers' arch-rivals, the Chicago Bears, are actually closer: Soldier Field is 96 miles away. The Chicago Blackhawks are the closest NHL team, 91 miles. The University of Wisconsin is in the State capital of Madison, 80 miles away.

The closest Major League Soccer team is the Chicago Fire, 101 miles away. Wisconsin's highest-ranking soccer team is Milwaukee Bavarians, which is only at the 5th level of the U.S. soccer pyramid, although they have been in business since 1929. They play at the 2,000-seat Heartland Value Fund Stadium. 700 W. Lexington Blvd. in Glendale, 6 miles north of downtown. Bus 15.

* Borchert Field. The minor-league Milwaukee Brewers played here from 1888 to 1952, at a wooden park originally named Athletic Park and renamed for former owner Otto Borchert. These Brewers were the first pro baseball team owned by Bill Veeck, from 1941 to 1945, before he moved on to the major leagues.

It was at "Borchert's Orchard" that he first tried his promotional stunts, and it made Milwaukee one of the most successful minor-league markets, not just on the field but at the box office. The Brewers won 8 Pennants there, including 3 straight under Veeck, and in their last 2 seasons of existence before the Braves came in.

The Milwaukee Bears of the Negro Leagues also played here, as did the Milwaukee Badgers of the NFL from 1922 to 1926, and the Packers played the occasional Milwaukee game here from 1933 to 1952. Actually, the place was better for football than for baseball: Like the Polo Grounds, it had a distant center field but foul poles that were much too close, 267 feet. An overhanging roof that covered the infield stands didn't help matters.

As Veeck himself put it, "Borchert Field, an architectural monstrosity, was so constructed that the fans on the first-base side of the grandstand couldn't see the right fielder, which seemed perfectly fair in that the fans on the third-base side couldn't see the left fielder. 'Listen,' I told them. 'This way you'll have to come back twice to see the whole team.'" 

Borchert stood between North 7th & 8th Streets, and Burleigh & Chambers Streets.  The entire land area is now occupied by Interstate 43, the North-South Freeway, and entrance-and-exit ramps. It's in a bit of a rough neighborhood, so unless you're just that into baseball history, if you have to cross one item off your list, this is the one. Number 50 bus to Holton & Burleigh, then Number 60 bus, or walk 12 blocks west.

* Milwaukee Mile. This racetrack, on the grounds of the Wisconsin State Fair in suburban West Allis, is the oldest continuously-operating auto racetrack in the world. "But Mike," you say, "auto racing is not a sport. Why are you talking about it?" Because the track's infield was used as the Packers' main Milwaukee-area home from 1934 to 1951.

Seating 45,000, the stadium was nicknamed the Dairy Bowl for Packer games, including the 1939 NFL Championship Game, in which the Packers beat the Giants, 27-0. The Milwaukee Chiefs of the 1940-41 version of the American Football League also played here.

I don't know if this is the earliest remaining stadium to have hosted an NFL game (1933), but it's not quite the oldest site: Racing began there in to 1903, while the Philadelphia Eagles once played at Franklin Field, where football has been played at 2 separate stadiums since 1895. 7722 W. Greenfield Avenue at 77th Street. Number 60 bus to 60th & Vliet Streets, then transfer to Number 76 bus.

Horlick Field opened in 1907, and hosted the Racine Legion from 1919 to 1924 (including 1922 to '24 in the NFL), the NFL's Racine Tornadoes in 1926, and the Racine Belles of the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League from 1943 to 1950. The current 8,500-seat stadium on the site hosts high school sports. 1648 N. Memorial Drive in Racine, Wisconsin, 29 miles south of downtown Milwaukee, and 70 miles north of Chicago's Loop. Amtrak from either to Sturtevant, then Bus 8.

The Kenosha Maroons played in the NFL in 1924, at Nash Field. The 5,000-seat stadium also hosts high school sports. 5909 56th Street in Kenosha, Wisconsin. Even though it's closer to Milwaukee (34 miles as opposed to 60), it can only be reached by public transportation from Chicago, riding the train from the Ogilvie Transportation Center (the former Northwestern Station) to Kenosha, then Bus 2.

The Sheboygan Red Skins played pro basketball from 1933 to 1952, winning the National Basketball League title in 1943 (making them, technically, if not officially recognized by the NBA, World Champions in the sport), and were merged into the NBA for the 1949-50 season.

Due to Sheboygan's small size (about 50,000 people, smaller even than since-abandoned NBA cities Syracuse, Rochester and Fort Wayne), the rest of the league wanted them out, and got their wish. They lasted only 2 years in their new league, and folded. But they are still winners of a World Championship. They played at the 3,974-seat Sheboygan Municipal Auditorium and Armory, 58 miles north of Milwaukee (Bus 916) and 67 miles south of Green Bay.

The Oshkosh All-Stars began in 1929, entered the NBL in 1937, and won 2 NBL titles, in 1941 and 1942. But they folded in 1949. Unlike the Red Skins, they weren't even welcomed into the merged NBA, despite coming from a larger city (66,000). At least the Red Skins had a decent venue by the standards of the time. The All-Stars played at the Recreation Gym. 425 Division Street, 88 miles northwest of Milwaukee, and 51 miles southwest of Green Bay.

Wisconsin had 2 teams in the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League, founded in 1943 as a way to offset the manpower drain of World War II, but it lasted until 1954. The Milwaukee Chicks played at Borchert Field, and won the Pennant in 1944. The Racine Belles played at Horlick Field, and won the Pennant in 1943 and 1946.

Wisconsin, let alone Milwaukee, has never produced a President -- although, in 2012, Congressman Paul Ryan, now the Speaker of the House of Representatives, was the Republican nominee for Vice President, and he's pretty young by political standards, so he could run for President in the future.

The Milwaukee Theatre, formerly, the Milwaukee Auditorium, built in 1909 at 500 W. Kilbourn Avenue downtown (across from the MECCA), has been one of the city's most historic sites. It's where Theodore Roosevelt, running to return to the Presidency on the Progressive Party ticket in 1912, gave a speech on October 14. For an hour and a half. After having been shot. The shooting happened a block away, at the Hotel Gilpatrick, now the Hyatt, at 333 W. Kilbourn. He recovered, and finished 2nd to Democratic nominee Woodrow Wilson, but ahead of incumbent Republican William Howard Taft.

Other Presidents, and men who tried to be, spoke at the 4,000-seat building now named the Milwaukee Theatre: Taft in 1911, Wilson in 1916, Wendell Willkie in 1944, John F. Kennedy in 1960, Michael Dukakis in 1988, and the George Bushes, the father in 1991 and the son in 2000. Martin Luther King gave a noted speech there in 1964.

Elvis sang there on June 14, and 15, 1972, even though the MECCA was already an established arena. Other Wisconsin arenas to have been played by Elvis were the Mary E. Sawyer Auditorium in La Crosse on May 14, 1956; the Dane County Coliseum in Madison on October 19, 1976 and June 24, 1977; and the Brown County Veterans Memorial Arena in Green Bay on April 28, 1977.

Happy Days. Airing from 1974 to 1984 but taking place in Milwaukee from 1955 to 1965, this ABC sitcom did as much to make Milwaukee famous as beer and the Braves did. A statue of Henry Winkler as Arthur "Fonzie" Fonzarelli -- a.k.a. The Bronze Fonz -- is at 117 E. Wells Street, on the Riverwalk, across from the 1895-built, 353-foot-high City Hall, which will be recognized by fans of Happy Days' spinoff series, Laverne & Shirley, although the sign saying, "WELCOME MILWAUKEE VISITORS" is long-gone.

The Cunningham house was said to be at 565 North Clinton Drive, an address which does not actually exist in the Milwaukee area. The exterior was shot in Los Angeles, near the Paramount Pictures studios. Both the original building used as the exterior for Arnold's, in the Milwaukee suburbs, and its replacement, in Los Angeles, have been demolished. The exterior shot for Richie and Joanie's alma mater, Jefferson High School, was filmed at Milwaukee's Washington High at 2525 N. Sherman Blvd.

Wisconsin was the location of 2 other famous nostalgia-based TV shows: The Happy Days spinoff Laverne & Shirley, running from 1976 to 1983, and set in Milwaukee from 1957 to 1964, before moving to Los Angeles for 1965 to 1967; and That '70s Show, airing 1998 to 2006, but set from 1976 to 1979, in fictional Point Place, a name that may have been based on the real town of Stevens Point, but said to be a suburb of Green Bay.

The Dairy State/Badger State was also the location of the 1990s CBS drama Picket Fences, set in the small town of Rome, which is the name of a real town in Wisconsin; the 1990s ABC sitcom Step By Step, set in a fictionalized version of a real Wisconsin town, Port Washington; and the longtime CBS soap opera The Young and the Restless, set in Genoa City, which is the name of a small town on the Wisconsin-Illinois State Line, but, on the show, we are led to believe it is a much larger city.

Milwaukee doesn't have museums on the level of New York, Philadelphia or Chicago, but of note is the Milwaukee Public Museum, at 800 W. Wells Street, at 8th Street downtown.

The tallest building in Wisconsin is the U.S. Bank Center, formerly the First Wisconsin Center, at E. Wisconsin Avenue & N. Van Buren Street. Opening in 1973, it is 601 feet high. It's not much to look at, unlike the building it replaced as the tallest in town, City Hall.

If you want to go on a brewery tour, be my guest -- or, rather, put your money down and be their
guest. But I have no interest in it, so you'll have to look up your own info.

*

Milwaukee may not be one of America's biggest cities, but it's one of the most fun. And sports, including basketball, is a big part of it. A Bucks game is a good time, and a tasty time, whether the team is good or not.