So Super Bowl 50 is finally here.
Wait, no, Super Bowl 50 isn’t here. The Big Game will be played 40-something miles away … in sleepy Santa Clara, in a stadium that resembles a giant erector set gone bad. San Francisco is the host city, the NFL tells us, but it won’t host the golden anniversary game, and that’s a disappointment.
But let the South Bay have the game for a few hours. It hasn’t had many good ones lately. As usual, San Francisco has the stuff that really matters: Super Bowl City near the Ferry Building. The NFL Experience expo near Moscone Center. The museums and restaurants, bars and parties. The scenic beauty. The cultural, artistic and social diversity. And all the tech know-how that is smart enough to live here while being bussed to work down there.
You know, everything a person whose team was eliminated from Super Bowl contention months ago would want, really.
For two weeks, in the face of all the challenges that a megaevent presents, San Francisco has the chance of a lifetime to enhance its legacy as The City and do it in a fun, orderly, all-inclusive way. It also has a chance to raise the bar for future Super Bowls, reinvent the experience like it hasn’t been been reinvented before.
As Super Bowl Host Committee prez Keith Bruce told Balls the other day, “Whether we draw a gazillion people is not the goal. The goal is the celebration itself and how we can redefine how the Super Bowl is celebrated. We’re not just hosting a Super Bowl. We’re redefining it.”
Can’t think of a better place than San Francisco to do it, can you?
GONE TODAY, HERE TOMORROW? As promised, workers have begun to help transients find shelter away from Super Bowl Fan Village on The Embarcadero, where upscale retail shops and restaurants make it a prime area for tourists. It also provides a must-see view of the Bay Bridge, among other sights. Taxpayers will foot the bill for the estimated $5 million relocation project.
But have the higher-ups acted out of the goodness of their hearts as they prefer us to believe? Or do they want to create a myth for outsiders that poverty doesn’t exist there? Remember: When Mayor Ed Lee announced the homeless would have to make way for the Super Bowl festivities, it wasn’t because of any concern for their health.
“We should be making sure that we’re delivering services throughout The City not just because of a special event,” civil rights attorney and district Supervisor Jane Kim told Bloomberg recently. “We should be providing this type of compassionate, strategic approach all the time.”
When the cameras are turned off and the tourists have left town, we’ll see just how kind the higher-ups really are, won’t we?
ON WITH THE SHOW: The Super Bowl matchup is an intriguing one — the Denver Broncos’ experience and defense versus the Carolina Panthers’ youthful enthusiasm and all-around excellence.
All we’ll hear about the next two weeks is Peyton Manning and more Manning, but Cam Newton will be the difference one way or the other. While the Broncos have wisely hitched their wagon to defense, Super Cam has carried the Panthers to the brink of greatness. In the NFC Championship Game, the guy was sensational — 382 total yards, four touchdowns, one turnover.
“It’s not over yet,” Newton promised.
Clearly, the heat will be on Manning and the Broncos in what may be his final chance to enhance his legend. If the Broncos keep it close, Balls likes their chances. But if the Panthers strike early and often again, they’ll wear the pants at Levi’s Stadium.
BOOK IT: Stephen Curry had Feb. 7 circled months ago — the Warriors had an open date — and the Panthers fan left no doubt about where he intended to be that day.
“See you in Santa Clara!” Curry tweeted.
He is expected to refrain from hanging at the Panthers’ hotel Feb. 6, when the Warriors host Oklahoma City in what will be a prime ticket attraction for visitors.
LIKE OLD TIMES: A familiar face will return to Santa Clara on Super Sunday. He’s former Niners tight end Vernon Davis, remember him?
Davis hasn’t been a factor since his trade to Denver earlier this season — 20 receptions, zero touchdowns — but at least he’ll be able to watch the Super Bowl on the bench, not his couch.
“Coming here, I expected myself to jump right in and be Superman. But that’s not what happened,” he said. “Unfortunately, everything doesn’t go the way we always plan it to, and one thing in life, we have to be patient. And we have to know that no matter what goes on in our life, when there’s adversity, and when things don’t seem to work, you have to continue to fight; you have to keep working even harder.”
BRING TWO OF EVERYTHING: If anything could turn the golden Super Bowl into a disaster — other than a terrorist attack, God forbid — then it’s rain, lots and lots of rain. According to
Balls’ spies, more than one inch of water could turn the Levi’s Stadium turf into one long slip ’n’ slide.
“Daily,” Bruce told Balls when asked how often he checked the longterm forecast.
AccuWeather.com expects a chance of rain on Super Sunday, while the Old Farmer’s Almanac predicts cool weather and possible showers. And that has event promoters a bit nervous.
“We’re anticipating some days of rain, some days of overcast and maybe a couple of sunny days,” Bruce said. “We’d like some sun because the television cameras work better in the sun. My only hope is that we don’t get a crazy three-day rain, but we could get it.”
KINGS OF PAIN: The Gridiron Glory exhibit at the Triton Museum of Art in Santa Clara is worth a look, but who’s the wise guy who included the unused ticket for the 1957 NFL Championship Game at Kezar Stadium that was never played?
As longtime Faithful can’t get out their heads, the Niners somehow blew a 27-7 lead against the Detroit Lions in a one-game playoff, which deprived them of their first postseason victory.
Years later, several Lions players claimed to have heard the home team whoop it up in its locker room at halftime, which motivated them to pull off the 31-27 shocker, still the most painful loss in franchise history, even more so than being five yards from a championship three years ago.
THE LIST: Traffic figures to be a major headache during Super Bowl Week. As a public service, Balls offers this advice for commuters:
Arrive early, depart early. Traffic experts anticipate the most congestion in the early afternoon and evening hours. If you bring some Bomboloni Caldi or Happy Donuts to the office, co-workers will surely understand.
Take the train. Ridership is expected to peak on Jan. 30 and Feb. 3-6, BART reports, and there will be additional trains to meet the demand in non-commute periods. Caltrain also will add trains and stops for events.
Take sick days. If you got ’em, use ’em.
WHERE HAVE YOU GONE … Dan Bunz and Rod Martin?
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