SAN JOSE, CA - APRIL 29: San Jose Sharks fans celebrate after the Sharks scored their first goal against the Detroit Red Wings in Game One of the Western Conference Semifinals during the 2010 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at HP Pavilion on April 29, 2010 in San Jose, California. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
After a weekend vacation in Minneapolis, I got a taste of a town that loves its teams. Something about that was different than what I have experienced here. Can the Bay Area become a sports town like Minneapolis? Or do we have so many teams that it's too hard for fans to unite?
Over Independence Day weekend, I visited Minneapolis, and it was quite an exciting place. The people there were nice, and almost every famous place was very accessible. On my way from the airport, I took the light rail train and immediately on my way through downtown, I saw the Metrodome, Target Center and Target Field. It was very sweet to see the places that I had seen on television for years right in front of my eyes.
Even though the Twins were in town for the weekend, I noticed a lot of people throughout the city wearing Twins gear. There were even some people wearing Vikings jerseys. They weren't going to the games and clearly, it was an environment that showed how important the team was to the city.
There were stores all over the place selling Twins gear and it was amazing to see how many people love the Twins. Maybe it could be credited to the new ballpark, but I would like to believe that regardless of the new park, the town loves its sports teams.
If we look at the Bay Area right now, I am not so sure if we can get that same feeling. One of the issues that prevents the Bay Area from being a sports town is that there isn't one town here. There are several towns that play host to our favorite teams. And more importantly, there are two leagues that each feature two teams from the Bay Area.
In Minnesota, there is only one baseball team and one football team. There is only one basketball team and one hockey team. Their home venues are under 10 miles away from each other, with three of them right in the heart of downtown Minneapolis.
In the Bay Area, we have six teams that play in five different venues. There is a split when it comes to loyalties in the NFL. And in baseball, there are two teams that Bay Area fans follow. It's hard to make the Bay Area a sports town when there is so much separation.
The San Jose Sharks play about 40 miles away from the Oakland Coliseum. And any time fans want to get into San Francisco to watch either the Giants or 49ers play, it can get to be a hassle. And with the 49ers moving to Santa Clara in a few years, it will just add more on to the travel for fans to get to games.
Let's assume that most of the local teams were having spectacular seasons. Then we would obviously see more people wearing fan gear. Minnesota is running on a very big high with the Twins and Vikings, hence the load of fan gear roaming the streets. The Bay Area can have that once again.
I recall back in 2002 when the Oakland Raiders and San Francisco 49ers were both very good teams. The Oakland A's and San Francisco Giants were also making the playoffs. That was a time where I recall all my friends would declare their allegiances to their favorite teams. There was a lot more sports chatter than in previous years.
And even though I was still a young 3-year-old in 1989, that was a good time for Bay Area sports as well. And it makes me wonder if the Bay can regain that sense of pride in their sports by fans. It would be nice to have the entire Bay Area get excited all year round for their teams.
Since California is so big, there are a lot of people here in the Bay Area with ties to the Southern California. There are numerous people that are not from California, but have found their way to the the Bay Area due to work, family or other reasons. There is an eclectic collection of people here that have rooting interests outside of the Bay.
We're a great group of sports fans in the Bay Area. It's just that we all cheer for many different teams. We love our sports; just not the same teams. It would be nice to have the Bay Area united together cheering for the same teams. But with so many different people cheering for so many different teams, it's probably not meant to be.