Cows, Seals and Sharks

What do Republican Senator Barry Goldwater, the Beatles, and ice hockey history have in common? The Cow Palace.

Technically, only the northwest corner of the Cow Palace parking lot is in San Francisco. The rest of what started as the California State Livestock Pavilion, opened in 1941, is over the border in Daly City. The Republican National Convention was held there in 1964 and Senator Goldwater became the Republican nominee for President of the United States. The Beatles kicked of their North American tour there in 1964. And the San Francisco Seals minor league hockey team called the Cow Palace home from 1961 to 1967.

In 1961, the Western Hockey League granted permission for an expansion team (owned by the Canadian owner of the Vancouver Canucks) to be formed if the Cow Palace installed an ice rink. The team honored baseball history by taking their name from the minor league baseball team that played in the City until 1957. Here is a promotional video from the beginning of the 1962-1963 season, with some fun views of the City at that time:

In the 1962-1963 and 1963-1964 seasons, the Seals won their Western League championships. In 1966, a new owner moved the team’s home base to Oakland in preparation for joining the National Hockey League in 1967. The NHL rejected the Cow Palace as the home for the renamed California Seals. When ticket sales declined because the San Francisco fan-base chose to not cross the bridge, the team’s name was changed to the Oakland Seals. The name was changed again in 1970 to the California Golden Seals. But the former glory was gone and the team moved to Cleveland in 1976, and folded with a merger in 1978.

The legacy of the San Francisco Seals allowed the National Hockey League to return to the Bay Area in 1990 with the creation of the San Jose Sharks. This is a collection video clips of opening night for the Sharks a few days ago:

Choosing the name involved a contest and owners got 5,000 entries. First place was the “Blades.” But that was rejected by the owners because the word conjured up images of weapons. The runner-up for the name was chosen because of the number of sharks in the Pacific Ocean. The team’s first marketing guru is quoted as saying, “Sharks are relentless, determined, swift, agile, bright and fearless. We plan to build an organization that has all those qualities.”

And because the new home arena for the Sharks was not finished when they came to San Jose, for their first two seasons, the Sharks played at the Cow Palace.

Best wishes,