SAN JOSE (KPIX) — In exactly one week, one of the biggest sporting events in the world is taking center stage in the South Bay.
While crews still have seven days before the College Football National Championship, they were already hard at work transforming downtown San Jose into a college football campus for the thousands of fans expected to arrive in just a few days.
The game against Clemson and Alabama will be held Monday night at Levi’s Stadium, which can hold up to 71,000 fans. The sporting event is sold out, according to a spokesperson with College Football Playoff.
“Pretty exciting! It’s pretty, pretty cool,” said Original Joe’s General Manager Joe Patane.
The restaurant sits just steps from Cesar Chavez Park, which is part of what’s being dubbed as the “Championship Campus” where football fans will be entertained during the days leading up to the game. Many of the events, including concerts, will be free.
Patane, along with other nearby business owners and managers, are expecting a huge increase in sales this week. January is typically slow for the industry.
“We’ve been anticipating this for months and we know that this entire area is booked,” said Patane. “All the events are going to be right across the street in this area.”
The game is expected to bring an economic boost to San Jose and Santa Clara. A couple years ago, both cities were left in the shadows of San Francisco during the Super Bowl. Many thought the NFL event would bring in millions to the South Bay, but were disappointed.
“Normally, you know, the Super Bowl is traditionally very slow for this restaurant. So we normally close for Super Bowl,” Patane said. “That particular year, we anticipated it to be very, very busy. And it didn’t turn out that way. We were pretty slow.”
This time San Jose is center stage. Crews are already setting up concert stages in Discovery Meadows and Cesar Chavez. Several downtown hotels, including the Marriott and Fairmont, were completely booked throughout the weekend.
Cal Trans crews even cleaned up parts of highway 87 and 280 Monday morning to beautify the city for the thousands of fans who will arrive in San Jose.
O’Flaherty’s Irish Pub, the official bar for the Clemson team, will have all hands on deck. The game is a touchdown for the South Bay, which is rolling out the red carpet for its future college football visitors.
“This week is going to be a black-out week. We’re going to treat it like the Christmas to New Year’s week or like for us St. Patrick’s Day,” said bartender Ben Nunes. “Nobody gets it off, you know? You’re going to be here. You’re going to be working.”