An old adage says write about what you know - so I started my first blog, the San Jose Mirthquakes, a lighthearted look at the lives of the Earthquakes fans while they waited patiently on the bleachers of Buck Shaw for their new stadium. My first post was a panoramic photograph of the Demolition Day at the FMC factory, followed by a review of "The Great Deluge", the opening game of the 2010 season under a torrential downpour, and in which Kyle Beckerman was compared to a wet Frisbee dog (it's a rookie mistake, and you hate to see it).
Back then I thought I'd keep up the writing to amuse myself (and maybe a few fellow fans) for a couple of years until the new stadium opened, at which point I would retire: settle into a plush blue seat, plop my beer into a cup holder, and enjoy a brightly illuminated MLS Cup winning season. I didn't ever foresee that time frame would take another five years - almost to the day - to the opening of the new Earthquakes stadium on a date now slated to be early 2015.
I bought my Earthquakes season tickets in time for the start of the inaugural (re-naugural?) game in 2008; much beer has fallen off and flowed under the bleachers of Buck Shaw since then.
Return of the Quakes: March 2008. Only Ramiro Corrales, Jason Hernandez and Shea Salinas (via Philadelphia and Vancouver) remain from that 2008 Earthquakes roster. How likely is it that any of them will still be around to test the grass of the new stadium?
Demolition Day: March 2011. Despite the lack of a formal go ahead, demolition of the FMC factory moved forward complete with hard hats, bulldozer and Bradley armored vehicle. Demolition of the buildings was swift, but then nothing much happened at the construction site until the stadium plans could be approved.
Planning Appeal Hearing: February, 2012. Stadium designs were put forth; speeches were made; noise concerns for a stadium next to a rail track and airport were quelled. The appeal was overturned and Quakes fans had their first sniff of concrete: the stadium would undoubtedly open in time for the 2014 season.
Breaking Ground: October, 2012. Little did we know, as we dug with our souvenir spades, what manner of danger was lurking beneath the surface of the Coleman Avenue site. A titanic new stadium felled by the FMC iceberg - nine tenths of which remained out of sight. Concrete bunkers and used ammunition both required careful and tedious disposal.
Two Delays: September 2013. The first announced delay pushed the opening back to the middle of the 2014 season, and was followed soon after with another that reassigned it to the start of the 2015 season - after a full seven (count 'em) seasons in the bleachers of Buck Shaw.
So, I've had a lot to write about, but not a lot to write about the complexity laying foundations, installing concrete and steel and affixing blue seats to the aforementioned. There's not a lot I can do but wait - not a lot any of the fans can do. The construction site has proved to be tricky (a technical architectural term) with a high water table and intransigent sewage lines (and yes I agree, effective sewage treatment is a necessary feature of any new home).
Buck Shaw is uncomfortable at the best of times, but the success of the Earthquakes at filling the stadium on a regular basis has made it challenging to maintain one's good humor with others' knees in our backs, sea-sickness induced by wobbly walk-boards, and the laborious exit from the tiny stadium after a game. These are all things we won't miss about Buck Shaw.
When we finally move to the right side of the tracks, I imagine the fans might grow to miss their proximity to the field and familiarity with the players, who are often found signing autographs as they wend their way back to the dressing room. I won't miss the many friends I've made - they will all accompany me across the rail road into section 109. We just wish we could be setting off on that short journey much sooner.