Bay Area Unites Between Sharks and Warriors

The San Jose Sharks have stepped up their promotional giveaways since the last NHL lockout. Bobbleheads have been popular, but the Sharks have gone with the exotic variety on a few occasions. Recently, a Chia Joe Thornton was given to fans to grow the beard of the grizzly vet. In March, a Brent Burns Grill will be given out to fans to replicate the smile of the Sharks’ Wookie.

But the hot commodity this season has been when the Bay Area comes together. This past weekend, the Sharks and the Golden State Warriors of the National Basketball Association teamed up to distribute a mashup jersey to all fans in attendance. The jersey featured the blue and gold colors of the Warriors with the Sharks’ logo on the front. The shoulders contained emblems of both Sharks’ and Warriors’ logos.

When the Bay Area last joined forces at the Shark Tank, the San Francisco Giants of Major League Baseball were center stage. A Sharks/Giants mashup jersey was given away to fans. Unlike Saturday’s mashup jersey, the word “Sharks” was put in the lettering seen on the Giants’ home jerseys.

In the pre-game skate, Sharks players came out in white jerseys with the Warriors logo on the front. The sweaters were put up for auction during the game until the second intermission concluded. Along the concourse, fans had the opportunity to get a picture taken with the Larry O’Brien Trophy, given out to the NBA Champion. Cheerleaders from the Warriors were also on hand to have pictures taken.

Unfortunately, Warriors’ superstars Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson and Kevin Durant were not in attendance. Golden State was on the road playing the Sacramento Kings. However, a video was played of Curry welcoming Sharks’ fans to Warriors Night at the Shark Tank. To the dismay of Bay Area fans, both teams lost their contests. Regardless of the results, a relationship was celebrated between two franchises originally started by the California Seals.

Not the First Time the Teams Collaborated

San Jose and Golden State collaborated on two occasions before now. Two seasons ago, the Warriors held a preseason game at SAP Center. A Curry bobblehead was given out with the player wearing a Sharks jersey. Due to the success of the giveaway, the Warriors held another preseason game this season at the Shark Tank. Thompson was the featured bobblehead, donning a Sharks jersey given out to the first 10,000 fans in attendance.

The Sharks have been acquainted with the Warriors back in San Jose’s early existence. In 1996, renovations took place at Oakland Coliseum Arena, now known as Oracle Arena, and the Warriors played their home games in San Jose during the 1996-97 NBA season. The teams have had a solid relationship since and continue to show support through special events during their respective seasons.

A Link From the Past

Originally called the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum Arena, the first tenants were the California Seals in 1966.  The owners of the Western Hockey League’s San Francisco Seals were awarded an NHL franchise as part of a new six-team division. Relocation to the Coliseum Arena was a condition for joining the NHL. The name change to California was meant to attract fans from both Oakland and San Francisco areas. However, when that didn’t happen, the name changed to the Oakland Seals and eventually the California Golden Seals.

After the Golden Seals departed to Cleveland for the 1975-76 season, the Warriors became the primary tenants as the arena was built to house both hockey and basketball. Although the NHL’s first adventure into the Bay Area was not fruitful, the impact of the Golden Seals paved the way for a potential return of professional hockey.

Professional hockey returned in 1991 with the Sharks who played at the Cow Palace. Back in January, the Sharks celebrated 50 years of Bay Area hockey with a Golden Seals Night. Shirts featuring the colors of the Golden Seals were given out at the Shark Tank to commemorate the event. Members of the Golden Seals were in attendance signing autographs and I was fortunate to make the Shark’s Twitter page showing off the new threads with my cousin, Stephen Woodworth.

Memories of the Coliseum Arena are about to end, however, as the Warriors broke ground in San Francisco on their new arena, The Chase Center. Completion is expected for the start of the 2019-20 NBA season. Before play begins at the Chase Center, the Warriors may need a temporary home depending on their current lease at Oracle Arena and there are rumors that the team could play at SAP Center.

With the recent successes for both franchises, who appeared in their respected Finals last season, Saturday night celebrated the past and the present. Both teams are thankful for the groundwork the Golden Seals first established to make a relationship between the Sharks and the Warriors a no brainer.