Spectator Sports, San Francisco
During summer of 2013, the 34th America's Cup sailboat racing was held just off shore from the Marina Green, Fisherman's Wharf, and several Piers on the northeast shoreline. I bought $75 tickets on-line hoping that despite the high price, we would have the advantage of an unobstructed view. This was for the most part true, as the grandstand seating provided an elevated view of the races. But, several obstructions block our view in places. First, the finish line around to the east was not visible from the West Grandstands because the buildings and piers of Fisherman's Wharf blocked the view. Second, the Yacht road provided a jetty full of spectators that had a great view. Finally, our view was also blocked in part by the big screen TV set up for our benefit to view the entire race by video. The seats were short and plastic, but otherwise the seating was generally worth the price for those able to afford it. See links to the website for more information.
We watched two races on the second day of the finals, Sept 8th. Prior to this, the Emirates/Kiwi boat had won the right, by a series of preliminary competitions known as the 2013 Louis Vuitton Cup, to challenge the American team sponsored by local billionaire, Larry Ellison, the previous winner of the America's Cup. On Saturday, Sept 7th, the Kiwis won both races, and during the first race on Sept 8th, we watched as the Kiwis won again. So, it was by good fortune that we watched as the American team managed to get their first victory. Best of 17 races determines the final of the America's Cup race.
Equipment: These boats are multi-million dollar boats that are only used for this race because the victory gets to decide what the criteria will be for the next America's Cup challenge. The boats are known as the AC72 wing sail catamaran, which are only used for the finals in this race. These are very fast sailboats capable of sailing twice the wind speed, and on the day of our races, we saw speeds ranging between 30 and 40 knots (35-45 mph). The speed of these boats is increased largely because of the underwater wing like foils that actually elevate the boat hull out of the water, or hydrofoil. The high speed and unstable nature of the hull hovering over the water increases the risk to the 11 sailors aboard. We saw several near miss situations where the boats almost collided with each other during the race. We also saw an abrupt and dangerous dive of the hull to the water by the American team that inadvertently knocked the wing foil. During preliminary competitions, several of these boats pitchpoled and broke apart, and one sailor died in such an incident on the Sweden's Artemis boat. Oracle Team lost a boat that pitchpoled, broke apart, and was swept under the turbulent waters of the Golden Gate Bridge.
Across the bay in Oakland, you'll find the Network Associates Colosseum - home of the Oakland Athletics baseball team. This team is a perennial contender in the American League West and has a very enthusiastic fan base. They have an outstanding pitching staff so they are always "in the game".
The cheap seats are $8, going down to $2 on Wednesdays.
The stadium is an easy trip from San Francisco. You can get there on the Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) system from the city. Just make sure you take note of the train schedule so you don't get stuck with an expensive cab ride back. The teams are not going to stop playing just because the last train to San Francisco is leaving, so be ready to leave early if necessary.
If you are driving, take the Bay Bridge to 880 South and follow signs.
Equipment: Some people bring a baseball glove if they are sitting where a batted ball might be hit.
Don't forget your sunscreen and sunglasses.
If you are going to a night game, the temperature in the stadium drops dramatically when the sun goes down, so bring a jacket.
If you wear anything from the cross-bay rivals San Francisco Giants, people will give you a hard time.
This is where the Giants play and Barry Bonds knocks his home runs into the drink. The park is on the waterfront in downtown. Take public transit to get there. MUNI has light rail service to the park and BART is not that far away. Not enough parking exists for the park and the traffic snarls whenever there is an event here. Walking beats driving into the crowded area on game days.
The park is also host to some special concerts and it is a great venue for them. Recent performers include Dave Mathews and the Rolling Stones.
Well, not in the city, of course. About 40 miles to the north at the northernmost tip of the bay is Infineon Raceway - formerly known as Sears Point raceway.
On the last full weekend of June NASCAR rolls into town for a series of events, culminating with the Dodge/SaveMart 350 on Sunday.
If you want to see my guide to the NASCAR race, please check out my Sears Point page; it is devoted entirely to the track and the logistics of attending the races.
San Francisco's sports are baseball and football. The teams the city plays home to are two world class teams: the Giants for baseball, and 49ers for football.
The 49ers, named after the people who flocked to the city in the Gold Rush, have won more championships in professional American football than any other team except for the Dallas Cowboys, who they are tied with. The team is simply legendary for football fans. Going to a Niners game is like a rite of passage for many Bay Area sports fans. The crowds that flock to their playing field at 3Com (but everyone still calls it Candlestick) are fanatical and great to watch. It's especially fun to watch the rare interleague game when they play their arch-rivals and across-the-Bay nemisis, the Oakland Raiders.
For baseball, the Giants represent the city. Although not blessed with the glorious past as the Niners, the Giants reside in one of the ballgame's most scenic and newest stadiums, Pacific Bell (or Pac-Bell to the locals), which sits just south of downtown next to a small harbor. The Giants are also the home team to Barry Bonds, the player who presently has the most single home runs in an entire season. The Giants arch-rivals come again from across the Bay, the Oakland A's. By coincidence, the last time these two Bay Area teams played in the World Series in 1989, a 7.1 earthquake occured. Giants games, however are fun to go to and very entertaining.
Baseball season is usually from Spring to early Fall, while football lasts from late summer to mid Winter.
Both parks can be reached by mass trans, and tickets can be hard to find at times.
Equipment: Around San Francisco, you'll find an abundance of Giants hats and 49er jersies in a variety of sports stores. The Raiders and A's are also well represented.
I am not a fan or anything, other than I like cars and women. I don’t think I can watch a sport on the teli that showed the cars always going round and round, only making lefts. I can watch all the crashes on ESPN’s Spotscenter later on that night. But if I get FREE tickets, I’m there baby!!!
I was disappointed there were not as many mullets as there was. However, amazed on the little city that sprouted up around this multi-day event and the ingenious methods of people carrying their vast quantities of personal beer. People make hitches and trailers to their ATV’s to carry their beer with them. Mullets or not, near a city like San Francisco or not, still rednecks.
Equipment: T-shirt says, “Keester Bait”
A keester is a redneck way of saying your “toosh,” “be-hind,” or “fanny”
T-shirt shows, “a fish hanging out of a a$$”
And you were expecting something about the Giants or 49ers? I will eventually write something on Giants. it is a great ballpark they play in. However, you will never read anything on the forty-whiners. I HATE them. 'nuff said. (49ers are SF American Football team)
The fastest growing sport in the States is NASCAR. With nothing but fast cars, hot girlies and beer drink’n, I don’t quiet get it. What makes Infineon Raceway, (formerly Sears Point) different than most the others, is the track has about as many straits as the Castro – not many. I heard that some of the teams change drivers because they can’t race on tracks that make right hand turns.
Take BART to the East Bay to see the A's or Raiders play at Oakland Coliseum (Network Associates). Get off at the Coliseum stop and walk over the bridge (its obvious when you get there). A's tickets are always available and cheap. Raiders tickets are usually available, but pricier.
Get the Heineken Chicken Nuggets-awesome!
Equipment: Don't bring backpacks or large bags to the coliseum, you'll have to take them back to the car or, worse yet, hotel. They just don't allow them.
The Giants play at PacBell Park, located in Mission Bay at 3rd and King Streets. Tickets are usually available at the door, unless they're playing the Dbacks or Dodgers. Free viewing available outside the center field wall.
The Niners play at Candlestick (3Com) Park in South San Francisco off 101 south (from the city). These tickets are sold out unless otherwise announced. Try Craigslist.com for day of game tickets.
The 2 most popular professional sport teams are the San Francisco 49ers (American football) and San Francisco Giants. Both teams are quite good as of this writing. In 2002, the Giants made the World Series. Most football seasons see the 49ers in the playoffs. The 49ers have won 5 Super Bowls (1982, 1985, 1989, 1990, and 1995).
Equipment: If you go to the baseball game, take along a sturdy glove to catch errant balls that make the stands.
This is where you can watch the 49ers play.
That big empty parking lot fills up early on game days, so come early to claim a spot for your tailgate party.