Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Welcome to the “San Francisco” Super Bowl

So it’s Super Bowl week here in the Bay Area, and the mood around here is…meh. I’m sure there are plenty of locals who are super-excited about hosting the Big Game — the 50th Super Bowl! — but nobody I know seems to be among them.

There’s been a lot of press about defaced signs, traffic headaches, and unhappiness at the way the game-week festivities are being funded. But I think the local attitude has deeper roots than that. Like Thanksgiving dinner, hosting the Super Bowl is aggravating all the little dysfunctions that make this place an interesting and often infuriating place to live.(...)

Despite the fact that the national marketing is focused on San Francisco, and that the pre-game “Super Bowl City” and associated activities are happening in the city proper, the actual game will be at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, in the heart of Silicon Valley, 43 miles south of downtown SF. As far as I can tell, this is the greatest distance between a Super Bowl host city and the actual game, ever. The only two previous games that have come close were Super Bowl XVI, held at the Pontiac Silverdome (29 miles from downtown Detroit), and of course Super Bowl XIX, held at Stanford Stadium, a mere 34 miles from downtown SF. By comparison, MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, NJ is only 11 miles from downtown Manhattan, and the University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale is about 18 miles from downtown Phoenix. Even the fabled Rose Bowl in Pasadena, host of 5 Super Bowls, is only 11 miles from downtown LA.

Of course, Levi’s is the new (since the 2014 season) home of the San Francisco 49ers, which is also a bit crazy in comparison to the rest of the NFL. Of the 32 NFL teams, 28 have a city in their name (the exceptions being Carolina, New England, Arizona, and Tennessee). Of those 28, only 7 have stadiums outside the city limits of their hometown, and other than Levi’s, the longest distance outside of downtown is 18 miles (AT&T Stadium in Arlington, TX). San Francisco is actually only 17 miles from O.co Coliseum, home of the Oakland Raiders. (Levi’s is actually closer to O.co as well — 32 miles.) And of course, Candlestick Park, the 49ers’ old home, was only 6 miles from downtown SF, and inside the city limits.

So you can imagine that the old guard of 49er Faithful, residents of The City, have not been entirely happy with the move to Santa Clara. It’s an hour’s drive in decent traffic, with limited public transit (at minimum, a Caltrain ride to the joint VTA station in Mountain View and a transfer to the light rail there). It’s also not surprising, then, that the San Franciscans feel only a limited ownership of the Super Bowl being held in the lovely new stadium so far away.

For those of us who live in the South Bay, by contrast, it’s annoying to see so much of the marketing pretend that we’re San Francisco. It’s like we’re hosting a huge party, but everyone is thanking our next door neighbor for their hospitality. At least the teams and the media are staying in hotels in the South Bay, and flying in to San Jose International.

by Adam Elman, Medium |  Read more:
Image: uncredited