NHL Stadium Series – Hits and Misses
As long time San Jose Sharks fans, we jumped at the chance when long-time season ticket holder Bob (who has been a season ticket holder for so long Sharks GM Doug Wilson calls him for advice) offered tickets to the Stadium Series Outdoor Classic at the semi-new Levi’s Stadium in San Jose (home of the San Francisco 49ers, who will certainly NOT be renamed the San Jose 49ers).
Because of the stadium venue, this was more of an event than a hockey game. And, because we are Green Bay Packers’ fans, since this is the venue for Super Bowl 50, this was a chance for us to preview where the Packers will win their next Super Bowl (GoPackGo!).
Hopefully in the year between now and SB50 the Levi’s Stadium folks will get a few things rectified. Below is a (hopefully) helpful list for the folks at Levi’s Stadium.
- John Fogerty: as surprise entertainment between periods 1 and 2, Fogerty and his band were awesome and had us (and most of the crowd) dancing, air guitaring and singing in our seats.
- Impressive stadium: it definitely had that new stadium smell and was clean. Even though the rink was away from the fans (see below) the view was good. It was a lot bigger than the Shark Tank (and any other hockey venue)…but that was the point. I’m assuming Levi’s had to have an event to show they could put 70.000+ butts in seats in order to test support for the Super Bowl.
- A plethora of food choices: Curry dishes. Seafood. Veggie dogs? In addition to the normal hot dog and popcorn selections, there were quite a few choices.
- Sitting outside with friends and family: what could be better? It was a bit chilly, but supposedly a bit too warm for the ice. But we had a great time throughout the event. It was like a short, outdoor John Fogerty concert with a hockey game wrapped around it.
- Traffic and crowd control: this is always an issue at any stadium, but it certainly appeared that someone at VTA missed the mark. Even on the way in (we parked at a friend’s house and took the train in a couple of stops) there was a lack of trains (supposedly they run every 10-15 minutes on game day – we waited longer). But on the way out, it was a large mess. Though my wife and I went out a different exit, the folks going to the front toward the transit lines (including the rest of our group) had to cross the mini bridge (see photo at right, from a Sharks subreddit member). And then there were no trains running…seriously, we walked the mile back to the place where we parked (slowly, as two in our party had bad knees) and only ONE TRAIN passed us (and it was jammed). This does not bode well for the Super Bowl.
- Jacking up the beer prices – Seriously? Beer prices were two dollars more than they were for regular 49ers games. Obviously the NHL or Levi’s Stadium saw this as a way to take money from loyal Sharks fans (and yes, I know I could have abstained, but hockey without beer is like a day without sunshine).
- No lids or straws? And long lines – Our friend Nani got a Pepsi with no lid and no straw. When she requested a lid, she was told they weren’t environmentally correct…and this explained the spilled Pepsi everywhere. They did give her a straw, after going into the back to search for one. Lines at the concession stands were long and slow. One gent told me that 10% of the people didn’t show up for work; the hockey flu or just poor planning?
- No seats near the glass – as you can see from the initial picture, there was lots of space between the ice and the fans. Hockey is meant to have fans banging on the glass. Without that closeness, this was more like watching hockey on TV with 70,000 of your closest fans. It looked like from other photos, that there were seats near the glass at the previous stadium series games.
- Melissa Ethridge – two of the folks with us were fans, but all agreed – something was off with Ms. Ethridge. Stadium acoustics are not built for a solo act with a guitar, especially when she is operating below her normal standard.
- Sharks lost to the Kings!: In spite of the carnival atmosphere, we were there for a Sharks game. I’m about to start agreeing with Bob – go ahead and miss the playoffs so we get a decent draft pick for a change. Or, since hope springs eternal, sneak in as a wild card and go on a streak to the Stanley Cup!