The San Jose Sharks have always been viewed as a Bay Area team; one which draws a good number of fans from areas far away from the Silicon Valley.
For Downtown San Jose, that's a problem.
When the Sharks were eliminated against Chicago in the Western Conference finals last week, the effects of this loss stretched farther than just the organization, who makes as much as $1MM in extra revenue from every home playoff game. The restaurants, hotels and various other retail establishments located around HP Pavilion also suffer the consequences of the Sharks playoff exit. For some, that exit came far to early.
Just a short walk down West Santa Clara Street can be a depressing stroll; doors of once successful Downtown restaurants are shut tight and "for lease" signs cling to the windows. Some, myself included, wonder if these spaces will ever be filled again.
The Sharks recent playoff exit is not the reason that these companies went under, but make no mistake: the team and its fans are the lifeblood of an area struck by the nation's recent economic struggles.
Take for example Spiedo, located on the corner of San Pedro and West Santa Clara. Once a successful restaurant, Spiedo closed its doors at the beginning of the economic downturn, but reopened last year as a Mexican restaurant named Agave Viejo. Walking by during lunch hour, the tables remained empty. However, Sharks home games filled seats, and in turn gave hope to the restaurant's new ownership. After a few months in the game, the restaurant finally closed two days ago... days after reaping the benefits of a final Sharks playoff run.
Spiedo, Chacho's, A.P. Stumps, Tied House and Blakes. These are just a few restaurants in the immediate area to close their doors in the last few years. Without the Sharks, it's likely they wouldn't have even lasted that long. The city of San Jose is a venerable ghost town when the Sharks aren't playing; it's a tragic fact for a city brimming with potential.
Because of this, the Sharks are an integral part of the city's livelihood; they are a revenue stream that the city couldn't live without. The Sharks, who depend on San Jose as well, are faced with the pressure of putting a winning team on the ice to keep fans coming to the games, and to Downtown San Jose in general.
As the hub of the Silicon Valley, Downtown San Jose should be bustling. For some reason, though, it isn't. Why? I'll be sharing my ideas over the next few weeks, but use this article as a starting point to discuss the problems that Downtown San Jose is having keeping its businesses afloat.