August 2014. The tweet comes down and every Sharks fan on Twitter (commonly known as #SharksFam) is going nuts. The unthinkable was going to come a reality. Our beloved Sharks, were not only going to play in an outdoor game, we were going to host it. We went overboard and jumped on tickets right away.
Jump to September. My girlfriend and I were just sitting down for a nice Mexican meal at Disneyland when a strange phone number rang and it was our fearless leader from the network that Pucknology was working on at the time. “You live in the Bay Area, right? Can you get to Santa Clara on Thursday for the outdoor game press conference?” Fortunate for myself, we were coming home Wednesday night. Another text message was sent and it said “don’t F**k it up.”
That day, Santa Clara was 90 degrees, I dressed nicely, but didn’t lean back otherwise backsweat was going to be the look I was rocking. It was the first press conference I was going to report on and I was a nervous wreck. Granted I knew many of these reporters and broadcasters and I’m sure some went in their heads, “what the F**k is he doing here?” Everything seemed fine, the concern was either warm weather or a downpour could destroy the grand plan.
Jump to February 19th, two days prior to the game. Ice looks nice, fresh and ready to be tested. Journalistic integrity was about to be challenged. Deep down inside, I’m a fan. A Sharks fan. There was no way I’m going to skate on the Sharks outdoor ice and rock some teal. I got some looks, particularly, from Sharks and Kings social media people, but, puck it. It’ll forever be known that the first guy to wear a Sharks jersey in an NHL outdoor rink, would be me.
I won’t tell you about the after party, but it was fun nonetheless. But nothing compared to what Saturday was going to be.
Friday was practice day, and figuring out the behind the scenes guts of Levi’s Stadium. Press box was spacious and amazing. Walking around the rink I had skated on the night before. When the Sharks skated on, the smiles were from ear to ear despite a late flight in from Dallas.
Saturday. Gameday. Again, my fandomness kicked in high gear. Determined to get the full effect of this special day, we were tailgating. 65 degrees and not a cloud to be seen.
It was a festive atmosphere, the crowd was loud and crazy before the warmups. Once inside, the place roared when the team came out.
Yeah, the game was a huge bummer. And that halo that Sharks COO John Tortora hoped for to get the Sharks and more exposure for the sport. That hasn’t materialized just yet. But to see thousands of friends in one building, enjoying the game we love, with the team we are passionate for, will never be forgotten.
If there was one moment I’ll never forget. It’s not seeing Brent Burns in the locker room jumping around like a goof, with his wife going, “this is what I deal with everyday.” Or chatting with Jamie Baker for a half hour at practice day. It was when 70,205 people in unison celebrated Burnzie’s goal late in the first period.
The game leaves a bitter taste, the fun times and memories we will cherish forever… until the next Sharks outdoor game. AT&T Park will look beautiful in February… perhaps 2020?