Yesterday, San Jose Hockey Now reported that Oakland Arena could temporarily host the San Jose Sharks for the 2020-21 season.
This would be in the event that Santa Clara County, where SAP Center is located, extends its ban on contact sports well past December 21st. The NHL is hoping to start the 2020-21 season on January 13th.
Coliseum Authority executive director Henry L. Gardner said of Oakland Arena: “The arena is quite capable of, in terms of design, state of maintenance, and capital improvements to host any kind of event that we’ve ever hosted in the past.”
However, even if Oakland Arena is still capable of supporting NHL games, there’s no certainty that Alameda County would approve.
The fate of the NFL’s San Francisco 49ers might prove instructive for the San Jose Sharks. Instead of going to Alameda County and Oakland Coliseum to continue their season, the 49ers opted to re-locate temporarily to Arizona.
Did Alameda County reject the 49ers — and is that an ominous sign for the Sharks?
Gardner, from the Coliseum Authority’s perspective, revealed to SJHN: “There was no decision in respect to the 49ers playing at the Coliseum. We were never contacted by the 49ers. It appeared the NFL never even considered it.”
This doesn’t indicate, however, if the NFL or the 49ers had communicated with Alameda County.
San Jose Hockey Now has reached out to Alameda County and is awaiting a response.
Of course, Oakland Arena is not the only logical Bay Area destination for the San Jose Sharks to stage NHL games.
Could Chase Center or the Cow Palace be in play?
At first glance, Chase Center would be ideal. It’s brand-new and the county of San Francisco has already granted the NBA’s Golden State Warriors an exemption to practice and play there.
Meanwhile, as the original home of the San Jose Sharks, the Cow Palace would be a sentimental favorite. How fitting, if necessary, to celebrate the franchise’s 30th anniversary there?
That said, the Cow Palace is almost 80 years old and is better known these days as the home of the Grand National Rodeo, Horse, and Stock Show. It’s also located in San Mateo County, though they’ve been generally less restrictive than Santa Clara County.
A Chase Center spokesperson was quick to pour cold water — but not cold enough for ice — on the Sharks playing there: “While Chase Center has the capability to host ice shows like Disney On Ice, we were not designed to be an NHL facility, so we wouldn’t be in the conversation to host a Sharks game.”
A Golden State Warriors spokesperson added: “The arena seating design was optimized for basketball. The change-over process from the NBA to NHL in concurrent seasons would not be possible.”
In a bit of intrigue, the Cow Palace wasn’t as quick to close the door.
“We need to talk to the team to see what they need, how we could accommodate them,” Lori Marshall, CEO of the Cow Palace, told SJHN. “Together, we would see if we could help each other.”
Marshall noted that the San Francisco Bulls, the Cow Palace’s last ice hockey tenant in 2014, brought their own ice-making apparatus.
“I would love for them to call me,” Marshall said of the Sharks. “But I haven’t been contacted by anybody.”
That would be some story, for the San Jose Sharks to come back to their first home. It’s not likely, but there’s been nothing likely about this year.
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