17K SJ Sharks fans attend home opener as city hopes for much-needed economic boost

SAN JOSE, Calif. (KGO) -- On Saturday night, thousands flooded to Downtown San Jose for the Shark's opener game.

It's opening day for the San Jose Sharks and over 17,000 fans from across the Bay Area have been waiting for this.

"We had to bring it. It's been a year and a half and I bought these shoes right before we shut down so I never got to wear them," said San Jose Shark's fan, Christie Wendlind.

"We use to go to Sharks games beforehand and it's great that this is our first one back and we are ready to cheer of the sharks tonight," said another fan, Andy Baksheeff.

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This is the first time since March of 2020 where there is no capacity limit at the SAP Arena. The only requirements: fans needed to be fully vaccinated or show proof of a recent negative COVID test.

"I feel safer that everyone is vaccinated," said San Jose Shark's fan, Olivia Baksheeff.

Several blocks away at San Pedro Square the sea of Sharks jerseys is exactly what business owners had been hoping for.

"There is a lot of people and that is great for business," said Arturo Bazan, Owner of Jora Restaurant.

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At District Restaurant they brought in more staff to help this weekend.

"We had everyone come a little bit earlier and then we have extra support staff tonight as well," said Rachel Kaiser, District Restaurant Manager.

According to Councilmember Davis, Downtown San Jose lost about 40% of businesses during the pandemic. They are hoping events like this one will help with the recovery.

"Restaurants that have been able to stay open many of them are not even open during the day. They are only opening at night," said Councilmember Davis.

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According to Rick Jensen with the San Jose Downtown Association, it's going to take more than a Shark's game to boost the economy in Downtown.

"The big lift for us is going to be the return of office workers," said Jensen and added, "During the pandemic we were probably at about 0 for maybe over a year or 3-4 months. Then June came along and our offices are about 10-20%"

For now they are grateful the Sharks are bringing thousands to Downtown.

"I hope this keeps going for the rest of the year," said Kaiser.

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