Sunday, August 3, 2014

Earthquakes Open Levi's Stadium - Views from the Tailgate

     Yesterday was the grand opening of the new San Francisco Forty-Niner Stadium – Levi’s Stadium – in Santa Clara, California.  The very first game featured Major League Soccer and the San Jose Earthquakes against the Seattle Clint Dempseys.  Your Award Winning Blog will now capture the key elements of the day – the Wondo Group Tailgate … and some stadium highlights. (Quakes 1 - Seattle 0). 

     I have told you before that my wife will use any excuse to organize a party and I will use any excuse to go to a soccer game.  Yesterday was a sort of nexus of marriage dynamics – she and her friends created an amazing party that fortunately broke up just in time for the soccer game.  I read that the attendance last night was 48,765 (since it was the inaugural game the Earthquakes did not sell tickets to the top deck) – of those 48,675 fans there were roughly 53 to 56 of them who did not attend our tailgate (I lost count for a minute when I went to use the restroom). 
     We were in “Lot 6” which is surprisingly easy to get to (if they did not make you for unknown reasons take a u-turn at Tasman and come back on Great America Parkway rather than simply turning left into the parking lot) … and when it is not busy being “Lot 6” it is the driving range for the municipal golf course that is located there.  Fortunately for us the golfers had wrapped up their practice sessions before we arrived (but it was my son-in-law’s car so I really didn’t care that much). 


     I have four brothers and three sons – and if you include me and my dad – 9 male family members who are all nicknamed “Wondo”.  At each stage of your life you run across people who think they invented the nickname – and you just smile and say “Oh – clever!”  But I like the nickname and I especially like that the nickname has really become a way of people feeling more familiar with Chris. 
     Our tailgate had (again by my count – over 48,600 attendees) – and many of them were wearing various “Wondolowski” jerseys.  Some from Team USA, some from the Earthquakes, and Pequena Chefona – Emersyn even had on a “Lil Wondo” Earthquakes Shirt.  For reasons I cannot really explain – I don’t wear Chris’ jerseys or really any Earthquakes gear usually when I go to the games.  I try not to be “That Guy” who has to show everyone that Chris is my son.  Don’t get me wrong – of the 48,675 fans at the game there were 48,674 who were significantly less proud than me of Chris.  I just feel strange about being seen as “That Guy”. 
     But … since there were dozens of “Wondolowski” jerseys at our tailgate it did tend to draw attention from fans walking by … and that leads me to the point here … can you imagine how strange it is that people want to meet me and talk to me simply because I am Chris Wondolowski’s dad?  I have had that experience before but it exclusively came from the Principal at St. Isidore School and the Dean of Boys at De La Salle High School who wanted to specifically talk to me because I was Chris Wondolowski’s dad (and those conversations involved behavioral reprimands). {By the way - Thanks Mrs. Gannon-Briggs and Mr. Alioti for letting me keep him in school}.  
     Plus - consider the fact that my own three sons really find no interest in talking to me and it just makes that whole dynamic a little stranger for me to understand. 
     Well … when you combine the fact that (1) I don’t wear Wondolowski jerseys or gear with (2) I don’t share any of Chris’ good looks or really resemble him at all … when someone from our tailgate would introduce me as “Wondo’s Dad” – most of the people passing by thought it was a cruel joke.

     I have read a few articles in the papers this morning – some saying it was a disastrous first opening and some saying it was smooth.  It was a great experience … the stadium is great and we got home (Santa Clara to Danville) in about an hour from the time we got into the car after the game.  I suggest that if you ever go … get there very, very early – and if you don’t know what you will do with all that time before the game --- call my wife and she and her friends will plan a tailgate for you

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