UCLA and USC football fans making their annual Bay Area migration this year might have to mingle with a mysterious species they wouldn’t normally expect to find in great numbers on the streets of San Francisco.
Namely, one another.
For the first time since USC started playing football in 1888 and UCLA in 1919, they will visit the Bay Area during the same weekend for games against Stanford and California, USC playing at Palo Alto and UCLA at Berkeley on Saturday.
“Oh, that’s great,” cracked Tim Zahner, public relations manager for the San Francisco Convention and Visitors Bureau, upon hearing the news. “Are you guys going to fight in the streets or something?”
It’s an interesting question.
Will ugliness unfold in Union Square, nastiness nestle in North Beach? Will catcalls carry from cable cars, fists fly at Fisherman’s Wharf?
Or will far-off familiarity fuel revelry rather than rivalry?
Typically, about 10,000 Trojans supporters make the annual trip to the Bay Area, though that number is expected to be cut by more than half this weekend because of an extensive off-season renovation of Stanford Stadium that reduced its capacity from more than 85,000 to about 50,000. Only about 5,000 tickets were made available to USC fans for a game that has been sold out since early July.
UCLA fans are expected to fill about 4,000 seats in California’s 73,000-seat Memorial Stadium, but that number could grow. Tickets are still available.
But even fans without tickets are expected to converge on San Francisco throughout the weekend, crowding restaurants, bars and hotel rooms, not to mention airport security lines and Interstate 5 rest stops along the way.
“You’ll have a lot of people who won’t make it to the games who will still party on Friday night and take part in other events,” said Joe Enloe, chairman of USC’s Weekender committee and past president of the USC Alumni Assn. “With four universities partying in San Francisco, it’s going to be a pretty rowdy night.”
USC alumni will be based at the Westin St. Francis on Union Square, UCLA alums about a mile north at the Hyatt at Fisherman’s Wharf. Students probably will settle for any room with an available couch.
The teams, meanwhile, will bunk down about 30 miles apart.
UCLA originally was to play at Cal on Oct. 7, but itineraries were reshuffled last year when the Pacific 10 Conference adopted nine-game conference schedules after the NCAA approved 12-game seasons for all schools.
And although it may be a novelty this time around, USC and UCLA fans may soon become familiar with this routine. The Trojans and Bruins are scheduled to again visit the Bay Area during the same weekend in 2009, 2010 and 2013.