Downtown San Jose the center of College Football Playoff fun
When Randy Musterer decided to open his second Sushi Confidential location in downtown San Jose, this weekend’s College Football Playoff National Championship was just the kind of event he was hoping to be part of.
“You can see the transformation happening from the street closures, signage on the buildings in downtown promoting the event, and now starting to see some of the streets filling up with fans sporting their college team logos,” Musterer said. “I don’t think everyone realizes how big this is for downtown San Jose, and we are excited to show all these fans how much fun they can have in this great city over this weekend’s festivities.”
Sushi Confidential’s outdoor patio opens out onto San Pedro Street, which will be one of the major hubs of activity downtown in the days leading up to Monday’s game between Alabama and Clemson at Levi’s Stadium. The street — closed to vehicle traffic — has been covered with turf painted to look like a football field, and there will be football-themed games and
a Dos Equis beer garden there Friday through Monday.
If that setup sounds familiar, that’s because a similar thing was done three years ago during Super Bowl 50, another highprofile sports event played at Levi’s Stadium. The big difference, though, is that the action won’t be limited to San Pedro Street this time around. The NFL insisted most of the Super Bowl brouhaha take place in San Francisco, but the College Football Playoff organizers have marked downtown San Jose as the 50-yard-line for celebrations.
Patricia Ernstrom, executive director of the Bay Area Host Committee, told a group of downtown merchants at a meeting last month that this was San Jose’s first real opportunity to be part of not just a huge sporting event — which it has many times before — but a real “national happening.”
That means the city is preparing for a potential influx of tens of thou- sands of visitors taking part in activities throughout the “Championship Campus” in downtown San Jose. On top of the San Pedro Square activation, “The Quad” at Plaza de Cesar Chavez will feature ESPN broadcasts, music and other fan activities; the San Jose McEnery Convention Center will host Playoff Fan Central, a three- day experience with pep rallies and autograph signings; and Discovery Meadow next to the Children’s Discovery Museum will be the venue for AT&T Playoff Playlist Live’s three nights of free concerts.
Add to that the Taste of the Championship, a $150-a-ticket tasting event featuring 20 Bay Area chefs at the Tech Museum of Innovation, and the Extra Yard for Teachers 5K run on Sunday morning. Evan SAP Center is in the mix, hosting the big Media Day event on Saturday morning. And following that, our own college football expert Jon Wilner and Executive Sports Editor Bud Geracie will team up on a live podcast event at San Pedro Square Market from 12:30 to 2 p.m.
Some downtown ven- ues are jumping on board, too. The Kristi Yamaguchi Downtown Ice skating rink has been redubbed “Championship Ice” and will be open all weekend, weather permitting. The Children’s Discovery Museum — which is open 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Friday through Sunday — is offering visitors a free ticket to Playoff Fan Central and will have the 49ers EDU team — its STEAM education program — around Saturday with activities around the evolution of football uniforms and how footballs fly. And Sushi Confidential will open at 11:30 a.m. Saturday and Sunday with bands and DJs playing all weekend and Monday’s game showing on a huge LED wall on the patio.
Of course, if you’ve still got any energy left come Monday evening, you can probably still go to the game, which as of Thursday had tickets available on secondary markets for less than $200 each.
Check out the full roster of events and any updates at bayarea2019.com.
A view of downtown San Jose, looking south with St. James Park at bottom in 2018.