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Week 17: Seattle at San Francisco, Jan. 3, 2020, 1:25 p.m. Pacific
SPONSORED – I didn’t get to see a game the first time I flew to the Bay Area.
I made it into the stadium, however. And as we were waiting for Game 3 to begin of baseball’s championship series to begin in 1989 and everything started shaking. I thought the crowd was getting loud, trying to urge San Francisco to rally from its 2-0 whole in the series. Nope. Earthquake. A big one: Loma Prieta Earthquake. The game was delayed and I flew back to Oregon with one heck of a story.
The next year, my family moved to Santa Cruz County, which is right where that earthquake occurred. I never did become a Bay Area sports fan, though. Oh, I liked Golden State’s basketball squad, but that went back to my time in Oregon.
And as much as I love Southern California – and I really do – my roots run deeper in the Nor Cal. It’s where I graduated from high school, and I’ve been around the Bay Area long enough to know just how much there is to do in the area whether it’s to hike around Golden Gate Park – where I once saw the Beastie Boys perform — or head up to the Presidio, which is north of The City and offers some absolutely breath-taking views.
Half Moon Bay – which is half an hour south down the coast – is the site for some of the biggest waves you’ll find in the entire country while the Brown Sugar Kitchen – over on the east side of the Bay in Oakland – is responsible for two of the best breakfasts I’ve ever eaten, and if you head there might as well stop by Marshawn Lynch’s Beastmode store and see if he’s there.
I’m even wistful about Candlestick Park, which was never going to be mistaken for a nice stadium. It was old, lacked sufficient elevators and was built on landfill jutting out onto the water. That last point posed a real problem not because what it was built on, but where. The wind would howl through there and make an August night feel like the Arctic, and back in the late 1980s there was a chainlink fence in the outfield and you could watch hot dog wrappers that would be stuck by the wind up on the wall.
Now San Francisco plays down the road in Santa Clara in a state-of-the-art stadium that sits next to an amusement park. It’s a great place to watch a football game. It also feels a little like an old friend who left a place with a ton of character for a prefabricated home in a planned development.
All that means, though, is you’ve got to look a little harder to find the character of the area.
Arrival: The closest airport to San Francisco’s stadium is actually San Jose (SJC), and Alaska Airlines has at least six direct flights each day from Sea-Tac. You can also fly into San Francisco (SFO) or even to Oakland (OAK). If you want to start out with a few days in wine country, you can fly into Santa Rosa (STS) and drive north.
Stadium: Levi’s Stadium is in Santa Clara right next to Great America. The field is closer to San Jose than it is to San Francisco, which is something that’s very funny to remind San Francisco fans about.
Last time here: Dec. 16, 2018, Seattle 27, San Francisco 24. Seattle won the game in overtime after a missed field goal set the table for the Seahawks. Seattle is 5-1 at the park, making themselves right at home.
Dining: Brown Sugar Kitchen (2435 Mandela Parkway, Oakland, 510.839.7685), In-n-Out Burger with multiple locations.