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Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Sadly, Decision to Drop San Francisco From World Cup Consideration Was On the Mark

Posted By on Wed, Jan 13, 2010 at 12:01 AM

click to enlarge Yes, the soccer bigwigs definitely gave San Francisco the business...
  • Yes, the soccer bigwigs definitely gave San Francisco the business...
San Francisco chauvinists and city soccer fans aren't a natural team. The chauvinists would like to tell you how the fact you can walk to really great restaurants here counterbalances an utterly dysfunctional municipal government -- and they believe it. While the soccer fans just really, really want to talk about how the Kop End is far superior to the Anfield End in Liverpool. And they mean it, too.

Now, however, they're brothers in arms. Football fans -- and this is what they'll call themselves -- are steaming that San Francisco was yesterday lopped off even a preliminary list of cities that might serve as venues for World Cup soccer matches should the United States play host in 2018 or 2022. And city chauvinists can't be pleased that the other cities bounced in the opening round were the unglamorous quartet of Cleveland, Detroit, Jacksonville, and St. Louis. Have you ever tried to find artisanal cheese in any of those places?

It'd be fascinating to chart the social experiment of rabid city chauvinists and football fans charting out common ground before, inevitably, someone was tossed through a plate-glass window or clubbed with a pint glass. But the sad fact is, San Francisco had no place on a list of World Cup hosts (ducking pint glass ...).

Technically, "San Francisco" hosted World Cup games back in 1994 -- your humble narrator watched Russia defeat Cameroon, 6-1. But that game was at Stanford Stadium. Since that time, Stanford has leveled the 80,000-odd seat venue with no backs on the seats, a large fence obscuring fans' sightlines, and dirt packed beneath the bleachers -- so when fans stomped their feet, the game was quickly enveloped in a dust storm. Stanford's new stadium is a fantastic place to watch a ballgame -- but its supposed capacity of 50,500 is far, far too small for a World Cup venue.

Meanwhile, where to start with Candlestick Park? Your humble narrator watched the recent Barcelona vs. Chivas match there -- and, as always, I was pleasantly surprised at the good sightlines and overall experience. Then again, anytime you don't freeze at The 'Stick while having drunken thugs spill beer on your shoes, it's definitely one for the Win Column. In short, the words "Candlestick Park" and "world-class event" don't belong together. And, keep in mind, we parked across the street from Piccolo Pete's rather than deal with the costly, muddy parking lots. Try translating "Piccolo Pete's" and "mile walk" and "don't even think about wearing suede shoes" into 25 languages, and you start to grasp the problems here.

Also, if the powers-that-be had given San Francisco the greenlight, they'd have been assuming The 'Stick will be even borderline functional in eight or 12 years -- not a great bet -- or that the city will build a new stadium -- an even worse bet.

You can still love San Francisco and love football -- but the idea of San Francisco football just wasn't very lovable.

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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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