SAP Center at San Jose – San Jose Sharks
The Shark Tank
The San Jose Sharks are a 1991 expansion team of the NHL (National Hockey League) and play at Silicon Valley’s SAP Center in San Jose, CA. It was previously known as the San Jose Arena, the Compaq Center, and the HP Pavilion and has earned the nickname ‘Shark Tank’ or ‘The Tank’ by locals and fans.
The Shark Tank also hosts the San Jose Barracuda’s, the AHL (American Hockey League) affiliates of the Sharks. It has welcomed a variety of other sports throughout the years including NLL (National League Lacrosse), ABL (American Basketball League), AFL (American Football League), tennis, roller hockey, basketball, boxing, and more. Many concerts and other entertainment shows are held at the SAP Center.
The San Jose Sharks have eight division and conference banners hanging from the rafters, but no Stanley Cup banner yet. They made it to the Stanley Cup finals in 2016 but sadly (for Sharks fans) lost to the Pittsburgh Penguins in six games.
It is an impressive and extremely comfortable, fun, and exciting venue in which to watch an NHL game.
Food & Beverage 4
As with most major league venues in North America, the SAP Center offers a pleasant variety of food and beverages at exceptionally high prices.
The traditional concession stands are called GrillWorks and they provide burgers, cheesesteaks, hot dogs, sausage (including a Portuguese sausage) with prices ranging from $7.75 – $12.
Near the venue entrances, healthy picks (four different salads: Asian Chicken, Thai Beef Noodle, Fruit, or Garden) are found at Classix for $9.
Other options include Iguanas (nachos, burritos), Show Dogs (specialty dogs and baked potatoes), Panda Express (Asian), Togo’s (sandwiches) and more.
Two-level eating areas are on each goal end of the concourse which include Amici’s East Coast Pizzeria, Gordon Biersch, Amarillo Willy’s (local BBQ), Round Table Pizza, and Craft Beer Central. Make sure to visit the upstairs of these eating areas (the upstairs has tables and chairs in which to sit and enjoy the nourishment).
Snacks of all kinds are available such as ice cream, popcorn, pretzel, Rita’s Italian Ice, cookies, candy and more.
Pepsi is the soda choice at $5.25/$6.50. Several bars and beer stands are spread throughout the concourse. A Laguanitas IPA (as well as other local brands) will run $11 for standard and $13.50 for a souvenir cup pour.
It is recommended to walk the concourse to see all the food and beverage selections before ordering.
The Grill at SAP Center is a restaurant open to all ticket holders prior to the San Jose Sharks games.
Watching a Sharks game at the Shark Tank is a remarkable treat and one that should be seen at least once for those hockey stadium journeyers and locals alike.
The architecture and layout of the facility is stunning both inside and out. The entrances are bright and open. When entering via the North entrance, take the escalator up to the concourse level and view the City of San Jose seal hanging from the ceiling. Turn around and see a stunning banner of the San Jose Sharks.
There is just the one concourse so fans travel down some stairs to the 100 level or travel up to the 200 level. Luxurious suites are on top of the 200 level with club seats at the top of the 100 level.
Seats are really comfortable; all are cushioned and are plenty wide with average legroom and all come with cup holders. The stadium temperature is quite comfortable, too, as it’s not freezing cold. A long sleeve t-shirt and sweatshirt and/or jersey will do the trick.
A center hung video scoreboard is crisp with high-quality replays and displays. They do post text/words of prerecorded announcements including game official names, advertisements, upcoming events, etc. for those hard of hearing. Goal scorers’ names are displayed but not those who get the assist(s). For penalties, only the number of the player and time is posted, not their name nor the infraction name.
One of the best features of game day entertainment is Mikey Day playing the organ. Though there is some canned music piped in (not too loud or intrusive), the premium here is listening to the organ music (and he is shown playing it on the video board). Excellently done.
Between-period entertainment is not over done. It includes things like a hamster race, 50/50 raffle, and Jr hockey skills shootout competition. The Zamboni even has a fin on it (Sharks/fin – get it?).
The SAP Center is located in downtown San Jose, CA which has an enticing variety of entertainment venues, restaurants, galleries, and museums.
The Guadalupe River Park is right next door. It has a river, trails, grass, trees, and gardens; and for kids and adults alike, it has a high volume of Pokémon to catch.
The San Pedro Square Market, four or five blocks from the SAP Center is worth a visit for outdoor morning coffee, lunch, dinner, drinks and live music. While there, if you’re a history buff, check out the Peralta Adobe – Fallon House Historic Site (be sure to call for tour times).
Several restaurants are within a few blocks and include Poor House Bistro (New Orleans cuisine), Firehouse No. 1 Gastropub, and Henry’s Hi-Life (steak and BBQ). All offer good food, good drink, and a unique environment.
In the Whole Foods Market, a block west of SAP Center, is the Mission Creek Brewing Co offering mostly California beers and some food choices and may be another place to visit before the game (it closes at 10pm during the week and at 11pm on weekends).
For places to stay when visiting from out of town, the Arena Hotel is recommended and is just three blocks from the venue. It is clean, safe, comfortable and affordable. Of course, a little further away from the venue are the more luxurious hotels like the San Jose Marriott, The Westin, and Hyatt Place.
It’s a pleasure to see fans watching the game; not their phones and that is what’s witnessed at a Sharks game. Fans boo when opposing team is announced. They speak intelligently about the different Sharks’ lines and players.
There’s a sea of teal (a popular Shark’s jersey color) in the stands each night.
Over the last few years, fan attendance continues to have a 95% and greater capacity. Because the Shark Tank has a smaller seating capacity (17,496)… the sixth smallest in the NHL venue… it will never rank first in NHL attendance. However, the smaller seating capacity makes it nice and cozy with fans closer to the rink and game action.
Another really cool thing the fans do is ‘The Chomp.’ When the Sharks go on a power play, the Jaws movie theme song is played and fans curl their fingers, extend their arms and move them up and down to form a chomping jaw.
Getting to the SAP Center is relatively easy but once inside, the concourse is extremely crowded (as well as the restrooms).
Various parking lots surround the venue and all are within a few blocks of the venue. Parking prices range from $7 – $25 for a Sharks game. The further away, the lower price.
Getting to the venue is easy via public transportation as the San Jose Diridon Station is three blocks from the main gates. The station serves both Caltrain and Amtrak trains as well as serves as a hub for VTA (Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority) buses in the South Bay.
Menita San Jose International Airport is four miles from the Shark Tank. A ride share / Uber pick up location is located near the Whole Foods Market just a block from the venue. For reference, an $8.18 Uber trip got me from the Arena Hotel (a couple steps from Whole Foods) back to the airport. Public transportation is available from the airport to the venue – it can take up to 45 min with multiple bus transfers.
Fans get to the game early so expect a long line when the gates open one hour before game. Fans walk through a metal detector; tables are provided to place bags for the security folks to check that no dangerous items are brought into the facility.
The steps up and down the portals are steeper than other venues so be careful if climbing or descending if more than normal step heights might be an issue.
Be aware, the concourse and the restrooms are very crowded before the game, between periods, and immediately after the game ends.
Return on Investment 3
Sharks tickets are expensive and the organization uses dynamic pricing (prices are based on market demand). I looked at their website and one seat was open in the second level for $58. OK, I thought, I can purchase that at the venue when I arrive and reduce the online ordering service fees. I checked the same seat two weeks later, it was up to $75. Not happy.
<Beginning the 2016 season, the Sharks organization decided pocket schedules would not be offered. I was told I have to download “the app” to get that information. This is a huge disappointment as pocket schedules make great souvenirs and just holding one in your hand helps visualize and plan additional games to attend and it helps remember the game attended.
Food and drink prices are high as well. Public transportation can reduce the cost of parking.
However, attending a Sharks game is an extremely entertaining, high-energy, fan-participative event and is worth several visits.
Doubleheaders – kudos to a venue who provides sports travelers the ability to see ‘multiple sporting events’ over a weekend.
Organ music – often overlooked but having the sound of an organ is reminiscent of earlier times of hockey.
Downtown – San Jose has a nice downtown area and the SAP Center is in the midst of that area so making a trip to the venue also allows a fan to check out the city easily.
If you haven’t yet been, I recommend attending a Sharks game. If you haven’t been in a while, it may be time to revisit. If I lived in the area, I’d most certainly be a Sharks fan.
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