The Longest Outdoor Bar In North America stretches across the open space behind the north goal at Avaya Stadium, the new home for the San Jose Earthquakes. Parallel to the airport runways a few hundred feet behind, and 55 feet away from the end line in front, LOBINA offers full-service cocktails and pints of many brews both local and international, all while showing off shots of the soccer kind on the pristine pitch a few paces away.
While other Center Line Soccer journalists do quality reporting on the team and match action from the resplendent reclaimed-redwood tower, LOBINA hopes to share a pleasure-filled pint of the supporter experience.
As this bar heartily drinks in both the beautiful game as well as the social scene around it, and given that the stewards quickly sweep supporters out of the stadium and into a stagnant parking lot faster than Alashe scored the first goal in SJ Quakes-at-Avaya history, LOBINA offers a nightcap of some post-match Snap Shots, on the house.
Why "Snap Shots"? Because "Schnapps Shots" is impossible to say, even before the first round.
- Avaya Stadium is a beautiful, simple, and inspirational showcase for soccer, its intimate atmosphere a commanding yet cozy home for the Quakes and 18,000 of our closest supporters. Stepping through the gates at the open north end (near me), seeing the wide rectangle of pristine green grass, and then slowly gazing up the steep-raked mosaic of blue seats reminds my marble countertop of the classic temples and amphitheaters of ancient Greece: uncluttered and open, with lines to focus all attention, noise, and energy directly down onto the twenty-two people performing on the pitch.
- The Stadium is simple: Concrete concourses lined with food, beer, and bathrooms. Open spaces through which to view the action on the pitch and TVs for when you're turned away while ordering. Stairs that lead up to seats. Everyone happy that supporters still can line the passage between field and locker room: Wondo and the rest of the players always take the time to sign autographs and talk with fans, and for supporters young and old nary a stronger soccer elixir exists than any I could serve in a plastic cup!
- There isn't a bad seat in the entire house. Like any good bar, I overhear everything, and I didn't hear a single complaint from anybody about the views or the seats, and only a peep about the steep stairs (which was less about the angle of incline as more of the lack of bathrooms when you got to the top level). Many people didn't even make it to their seats, with large crowds standing on the shallow terraces between the north goal and LOBINA. Heck, many just saddled up to the backside of my bar to watch through the open center (which also offered more protection from rocketballs). I sent my social media dude to watch the match from as many locations as possible and he reported back (a bit winded) that all spots, even standing up above the Ultras' Supporters Section, offered quality sightlines and an engaging viewing experience.
- The top level has great views outside the stadium as well, especially for railfans as there are quite a few trains of various rolling stock in a small storage yard next to the Amtrak station. However, be careful when turning onto the (north-ish) west side, as the architecture allows the evening offshore wind to suddenly whip through the walkway. I especially feel sorry for the TV journalists whose carefully-crafted coifs immediately explode into platinum-blonde supernovas. I foretell that the Grace Kelly headscarf will make a comeback, especially for CSNBA's Anthony Passarelli and Ray Ratto.
- Open concourses, multiple viewing balconies, and intelligent terrace angles allow you to move around and watch the game from almost everywhere. Except for the press- & executive-boxes, a ticket holder can wander around and watch the match from almost as many angles as if playing Minecraft. No grumpy guards to keep sheep in pens (except for afore-mentioned specials), so you have the ability to walk, talk & watch from outer gate to upper walkway to LOBINA, and that fluid interaction with other fan, as well as the option to follow a favorite player, creates an environment that re-enforces the "Our House" community so important to team and fan base.
- Krazy George is awesome.
- Now that people know where all the different bars, bathrooms, and stairs to seats are, I'm sure they'll all get into proper viewing position before kickoff. The lack of enough servers at LOBINA and long lines in bathrooms meant that many were still moseying through the concrete concourse when Alashe scored the first SJ Quake goal at Avaya at the 5' mark.
- Unlike America Football games that will soon exceed 4 hours and have play stoppage/penalties/timeouts/TV timeouts/penalty review/quarter breaks/halftimes, soccer game times are pretty well set: First Half = 45-47 minutes. Halftime = 15 minutes. Second Half = 47-50 minutes. (Refs add 30 seconds for each sub and goal, and any time the physio/trainers have to come out to attend to players). Considering the amount of liquid refreshment I & my brethren "Beers of the World" bar (located under the Ultras) served before and during the first half, there is NO WAY the five bathrooms spaced around the stadium could handle the stream during halftime. And there are no (official) toilets on the upper deck, meaning that everyone has to descend to those five bathrooms. More servers plus more bathrooms (say out near team shop/ LOBINA?) equal supporters getting back to stands before second half kickoff.
- The Ultra's massive Spartan-themed tifo added even more echoes of tradition and antiquity to the roar of support that started well before kickoff, rocked the stadium the entire match, and reverberated around in the small groups that walked happily away after the win. The San Jose Ultras, El Imperio Sismico, Faultliners, Casbah and other supporter groups / local youth teams rocked Avaya, and rocked it hard. The rest of the fans will soon join in the songs and chants (or at least, as John Lennon encouraged, will "rattle their jewelry"). But all the fans, from the supporters to the barflies, were all engaged in the game and cheering on the runs, passes, tackles and goals. When MPG wound up and rocketed the ball from the top of the box, even Shot Spotter wouldn't have been able to pinpoint it, the tsunami of sound around the whole stadium was so sharp.
- The parking lot sucked/bogged down cars after the match. Apparently, no one was around to direct traffic. (From my stationary point of view, all the stewards stayed inside the stadium for sweeping duty, ‘cause they cleared everyone out faster than Dempsey's goal in Seattle last week) Next match, I'll try to have my servers roller-skate drinks out to cars stuck in the lots, but I'll have to clear it with Legal first. In addition to all the tailgate parties, LOBINA overheard a great idea: many soccer lovers stop by Jack's Bar on E. Taylor & 4th, one of many quality Footy-supporting watering holes, to watch the earlier Premier League/Series A/La Liga games, and then mosey/taxi/carpool across the river to the VTA to be at the Quakes and LOBINA in under an hour. From one bar to another, that's a keg-load of quality soccer, supporters, and city.
You can visit LOBINA at any San Jose Earthquakes home game, or on Twitter @LOBINA_SJQ15. All beautiful pitch-side views its own. Go #Quakes74!