Could the NHL return to Oakland?
The San Jose Sharks might be seeking a temporary home.
Last month, Santa Clara County, where the Sharks play their home games at SAP Center, banned all contact sports through December 21st. This ban forced the NFL’s San Francisco 49ers to re-locate to Arizona and the Sharks to pause off-season training at their practice facility, Solar4America Ice at San Jose.
According to the Mercury News, this ban is expected to extend past December 21st.
This puts the NHL, hoping to open training camp in late December or early January and start the season in mid-January, in direct conflict with Santa Clara County.
Of course, not all Bay Area counties are the same.
The county of San Francisco, for example, has allowed the NBA’s Golden State Warriors to continue their training. The Warriors are scheduled to kick off their pre-season at Chase Center this Saturday.
Could the San Jose Sharks receive a similar exemption from Alameda County?
San Jose Hockey Now noted yesterday that Sharks Sports & Entertainment owns Solar4America Ice at Fremont and the Sharks have practiced there before.
Conceivably, the Sharks could train in Fremont and play games at Oakland Arena during the 2020-21 NHL season.
“The arena is quite capable of, in terms of design, state of maintenance, and capital improvements,” Coliseum Authority executive director Henry L. Gardner told San Jose Hockey Now, “to host any kind of event that we’ve ever hosted in the past.”
The Coliseum Authority manages Oakland Arena. As recently as March, Oakland Arena hosted Disney On Ice.
Of course, that’s ice suitable for the Little Mermaid, not Erik Karlsson.
However, Gardner countered, “That can be accommodated with some notice.”
It would be a homecoming of sorts for the league, as the California Seals called Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum Arena, now known as Oakland Arena, home from 1967-76.
The venue is one huge part of the equation. Another big question is whether or not Alameda County would grant the San Jose Sharks an exemption to train and play.
SJHN has reached out to Alameda County and is awaiting a response.
It’s worth mentioning that the California Golden Bears, who play in Alameda County, have been allowed to continue their football and basketball seasons. However, Cal sports are under the jurisdiction of the City of Berkeley. Berkeley is one of just three California cities that has its own public health agency separate from the county.
If the San Jose Sharks can’t train and play in Santa Clara County, Alameda County could make a lot of sense. Players and team employees would still be close to home, practice and games within driving distance.
So have the Sharks reached out?
Speaking for Oakland Arena, Gardner noted: “I am not aware that they have.”
Sheng’s Travel Fund
Help fund Sheng's travel! Every dollar goes to the cost of getting to and from Sharks road games.