The best parts about the Cow Palace these days are the memories. The site of legendary concerts and epic pro wrestling bouts is today best known for gun shows, the annual Dickens Fair, and a hockey franchise that has -- so far, anyway -- survived playing in one of the poorest venues for hockey we've seen.
That said, everyone is lining up behind the San Francisco Bulls, whose second year in Daly City begins tonight when Mayor Ed Lee drops the ceremonial first puck. One reason for the Bulls' popularity -- aside from the quality of play, which is quite good -- may be the atmosphere at the Cow Palace on game nights: it's full of weed smoke.
Hockey is a lot of fun to watch stoned (we hear), and while the Zambonis are running between periods, the "smoking" sections outside are veritable Bob Marley concerts.
And the Bulls will cement their reputation as playing in the nation's most marijuana-friendly pro sports venue on Nov. 16, when they host a fundraiser for Americans for Safe Access. That's right: it's going to be weed lobby night at the Bulls.
It's worth mentioning that the Cow Palace has been the site of ground-breaking marijuana performances before: In 2010, the state-owned site hosted the first International Cannabis and Hemp Expo, a cannabis convention that has since moved on to decidedly less pot-friendly venues -- like San Francisco's Civic Center Plaza, where no smoking was allowed this year.
Not so at the Bulls. On a visit to the arena last year, we noticed a group of well-behaved young men exit the arena during an intermission and, with full buy-in from the security guard watching the door, fill the air with medical-grade haze. "That's fine," the guard said, when asked. "I'm gonna do that too as soon as I get home!"
Multiple people we've talked to over the past few days tell the same story: Everyone at the Bulls, aside from the players, is stoned. "It's crazy," said one individual, who attended two games last year. "Everyone's going nuts outside, ripping on bowls."
This appears to be tolerated, and why not? Stoned people don't cause much of a fuss, they buy nachos, and -- apparently -- can yell and scream at a hockey game as much as drunk people. Not to mention that this is a new franchise, playing in an area where cannabis use is condoned. If paying fans want to toke, and it's essentially legal, who in their right mind would want to stop them?
We take this opportunity to lament again that the Cow Palace isn't built for hockey. There are a fair amount of seats at the Bulls that just have bad sightliness -- with the tops of the boards in the way, with the net in the way, with part of the ice out of sight. It's not unlike sitting in the wrong section of the outfield at the Oakland Coliseum, which is also not built for baseball (and which is a reason why it's the last multi-sport stadium left in Major League Baseball).
That said, it's just fine for Americans for Safe Access, the cannabis lobby that's been active in trying to pass every major cannabis reform bill in California recently. Tickets to the Nov. 16 game are $20, proceeds go to ASA -- and everyone will get to watch Assemblyman Tom Ammiano, California's weed-friendliest legislator, drop the puck a week from Saturday.
Go -- cough! -- Bulls.