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Thursday, October 22, 2009

It's 4th Down For California Redwoods In San Francisco -- Already

Posted By on Thu, Oct 22, 2009 at 10:59 AM

Cory Ross and the Redwoods apparently know the way to San Jose - JIM HERD
  • Jim Herd
  • Cory Ross and the Redwoods apparently know the way to San Jose
On Saturday, we stopped by the California Redwoods' first game in San Francisco. If we knew the expansion United Football League's San Fran era would potentially be so fleeting, maybe we'd have picked up a signature plastic cup. Damn -- they didn't have any.

Don't get us wrong, it was a decent football game. Sure, you could have switched the rosters of the home Redwoods and visiting New York Sentinels just before opening kickoff and no one but the players' friends and family would have been any wiser -- but we had fun. Yet we had lots of elbow room. The league claims 6,341 fans straggled into AT&T Park. Reasonable people can differ, but I'd guess about 3,000 of those folks dressed as empty seats or were doing their best impression of Claude Rains in The Invisible Man.

And now the Redwoods are leaving us. In an announcement made this morning, the UFL stated that it will play its Nov. 19 game at AT&T Park as scheduled -- but will play on Nov. 14 at San Jose's Spartan Stadium. League commissioner Michael Huyghue said this move was made in order to "get a feel for Spartan Stadium in preparation for next year." League spokeswoman Rachel Gary told SF Weekly that the trigger was pulled on this move very recently -- and it had nothing to do with Saturday's awful attendance figures.

Gary says that Spartan Stadium -- a venue only three-quarters AT&T Park's size -- is potentially a better fit for the league. If the UFL survives another year -- and "we're planning on it," Gary says -- it would have to bob and weave around the many events taking place at the Giants' stadium. Spartan Stadium, meanwhile, is mainly used only on Saturdays for San Jose State football games.

Meanwhile, the New York Sentinels' Nov. 4 game was similarly moved from the New York Mets' Citi Field in Queens to Hofstra Stadium. It seems the league is opting for small-timier venues right now.

That's not to say San Francisco has lost the Redwoods for good (and, prior to the season, team owner Paul Pelosi told SF Weekly that the ambiguous "California" designation was applied so he could move the team around Northern California without having to alter its stationery, so to speak). The team will be back on Nov. 19, after all. But it's hard to imagine San Francisco's fan base, distracted by a multiplicity of pro teams and countless non-sporting pastimes, outdrawing the South Bay.

San Jose-area cities hoard professional sporting franchises; it's a status symbol and part of the region's Sisyphean effort to overtake San Francisco as the regional capital and the jewel in Northern California's crown. A decade ago we wrote that denizens of San Jose would show up to watch which dog took the biggest crap as long as you told them it was a professional league. And the UFL is much better than that.

Photo   |   Jim Herd

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About The Author

Joe Eskenazi

Joe Eskenazi

Joe Eskenazi was born in San Francisco, raised in the Bay Area, and attended U.C. Berkeley. He never left. "Your humble narrator" was a staff writer and columnist for SF Weekly from 2007 to 2015. He resides in the Excelsior with his wife, 4.3 miles from his birthplace and 5,474 from hers.


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