Sports in the San Francisco Bay Area

The San Francisco Bay Area, which includes the major cities of San Francisco, Oakland and San Jose, hosts seven major league sports franchises, as well as several other professional and college sports teams, and hosts other sports events.

Major league teams

Location of major league teams in San Francisco Bay Area
Team Sport Bay Area
League Venue Average
San Francisco 49ers American Football 1946 National Football League Levi's Stadium 70,799
Oakland Raiders American Football 1960* National Football League RingCentral Coliseum 54,613
San Francisco Giants Baseball 1958 Major League Baseball Oracle Park 41,677
Oakland Athletics Baseball 1968 Major League Baseball RingCentral Coliseum 21,829
San Jose Earthquakes Soccer 1996 Major League Soccer Avaya Stadium 20,979
Golden State Warriors Basketball 1962 National Basketball Association Chase Center 18,064
San Jose Sharks Ice Hockey 1991 National Hockey League SAP Center 16,747


  • The Raiders played in Los Angeles from 1982–1994.

American football

The Bay Area is home to two National Football League teams, the San Francisco 49ers, who play at Levi's Stadium[1] and Oakland Raiders, who play at RingCentral Coliseum.[2] The Raiders are slated to move to Las Vegas for the 2020 season. The Oakland Panthers of the Indoor Football League are due to begin play in 2020 at Oakland Arena looking to fill the hole left by the Raiders departure.

The 49ers have won five Super Bowls (XVI,[3] XIX,[4] XXIII,[5] XXIV,[6] XXIX[7]) and lost one (XLVII[8]). The Raiders won two Super Bowls during their stay in Oakland (XI,[9] XV,[10]), and lost two (II,[11] XXXVII[12]).


The Bay Area is home to two Major League Baseball teams. The San Francisco Giants play at Oracle Park[13] and have won eight World Series titles (three as the San Francisco Giants (2010, 2012, and 2014) and five as the New York Giants). The Oakland Athletics share RingCentral Coliseum with the Raiders,[14] and the A's have won nine World Series titles (four as the Oakland Athletics, (1972, 1973, 1974, and 1989) and five as the Philadelphia Athletics).

The 1989 World Series was known as the "Earthquake Series", "Bay Bridge Series", and "Battle of the Bay", as both teams played against each other, and Oakland swept the Giants in a 4-game series.[15] However, the series is probably best known for the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake which struck on the day of Game 3.[16][17]

San Francisco was ranked #1 in 2012 among America's Best Baseball cities. The study examined which U.S. metro areas have produced the most Major Leaguers since 1920.[18]


The Golden State Warriors returned to San Francisco beginning with the 2019–20 NBA season when the new Chase Center opened in the Mission Bay district. Originally, the Warriors played in Philadelphia, but relocated to San Francisco in 1962 and then to Oakland in 1971. During their days in Oakland, the Warriors have won four NBA Finals (1975,[19] 2015, 2017, 2018).

Ice hockey

San Jose currently hosts the San Jose Sharks of the National Hockey League and currently play at the SAP Center at San Jose.[20] The Sharks began play in 1991, playing their first two seasons at the Cow Palace before moving to their current home in 1993. They have been Pacific Division champions six times, as well as having won the Presidents' Trophy for the best regular season record in the league in 2009, and the Clarence S. Campbell Bowl as the Western Conference champions in 2016. Though the Sharks have yet to win a Stanley Cup, they made their first Stanley Cup Finals appearance in 2016.


Beginning in 1996, the San Jose Earthquakes, then known as the San Jose Clash, competed in Major League Soccer, and became the Earthquakes in 1999. The Quakes won MLS Cup 2001 against the Los Angeles Galaxy 2–1,[21] as well as MLS Cup 2003 against the Chicago Fire 4–2. The Quakes then moved to Houston in 2005, and became the Houston Dynamo,[22] but in a fashion similar to the Cleveland Browns move,[23] the Earthquakes name and history stayed in San Jose for a future team. In 2008, the current incarnation of the Earthquakes made its return[24] and subsequently played seven seasons at Buck Shaw Stadium in Santa Clara. In March 2015, the Earthquakes opened Avaya Stadium across from San Jose International Airport.[25]

Minor league professional teams

Minor league professional teams
San Jose BarracudaIce hockeyAmerican Hockey LeagueSAP Center
Oakland Roots SCSoccerNational Independent Soccer AssociationLaney College
San Jose GiantsBaseballCalifornia LeagueSan Jose Municipal Stadium
San Rafael PacificsBaseballPacific AssociationAlbert Park
Sonoma StompersBaseballPacific AssociationArnold Field
Pittsburg DiamondsBaseballPacific AssociationCity (Pittsburg) Park Field #1
Vallejo AdmiralsBaseballPacific AssociationWilson Park
Martinez ClippersBaseballPacific AssociationJoe Dimaggio Field
Napa SilveradosBaseballPacific AssociationNapa Valley College Storm Field


The San Jose Giants are a Minor League Baseball team in the Northern Division of the California League, a Class A–Advanced league. They've been a farm team of the San Francisco Giants since 1988 and have played continuously since 1962 under several different names and affiliations. The San Jose Giants have developed more than 190 major league players, including current and former San Francisco Giants such as Buster Posey, Tim Lincecum, Matt Cain, Pablo Sandoval, and Madison Bumgarner.

The Pacific Association of Professional Baseball Clubs is an independent baseball league with six teams in the northern and eastern parts of the Bay Area.

In the Bay Area Collegiate League, Palo Alto is home to the Palo Alto Oaks, the oldest continuously-operated, wood-bat, baseball team in the Bay Area. The Oaks played their inaugural season in 1950, making 2018 their 69th consecutive season of baseball. They are joined by seven other teams in the Bay Area: Alameda Merchants, Burlingame Bucks, San Carlos Salty Dogs, San Mateo Rounders, Solano Mudcats, Walnut Creek Crawdags, and the West Coast Kings.[26]


Amateur men's soccer has been played in San Francisco since 1902 through the San Francisco Soccer Football League.[27] Over 40 teams in 4 divisions play throughout the city between March and November. Premier Division games are played at the 3,500 seat Boxer Stadium. Amateur women's soccer is played on over 30 teams in the Golden Gate Women's Soccer League.[28]

Supporter-owned San Francisco City FC, founded in 2001 as part of the SFSFL, has played in the PDL since 2016.

Other sports

In 2015, the Sharks American Hockey League affiliate team, the Worcester Sharks, became the San Jose Barracuda and share the SAP Center at San Jose.

San Francisco Pro-Am Basketball League is an important summer league venue for aspiring players to be discovered by talent scouts. Games are held at the 4,000 seat Kezar Pavilion. Players from all levels participate, with regular appearances by off season NBA professionals.[29]

San Francisco Rush played in the inaugural 2016 PRO Rugby season at Boxer Stadium.[30] The club folded after one season. The San Francisco Golden Gate Rugby team competes in the Pacific Rugby Premiership. In rugby sevens, the Bay Area hosted the 2018 Rugby World Cup Sevens at AT&T Park which saw over 100,000 in attendance over the three days of the tournament.[31]

College sports

The Bay Area is also well represented in college sports. Six area universities are members of NCAA Division I, the highest level of college sports in the country. Three have football teams and three do not. Bay Area Deportes is the only media outlet in San Francisco Bay Area to fully cover NCAA college sports in Spanish.

All three football-playing schools in the Bay Area are in the Football Bowl Subdivision, the highest level of NCAA college football. The California Golden Bears and Stanford Cardinal compete in the Pac-12 Conference, and the San Jose State Spartans compete in the Mountain West Conference.[32] The Cardinal and Golden Bears are intense rivals, with their football teams competing annually in the Big Game for the Stanford Axe.[33] One of the most famous games in the rivalry is the 1982 edition, when the Golden Bears defeated the Cardinal on a last-second return kickoff known as "The Play".[34]

The three non-football Division I programs in the Bay Area are the San Francisco Dons, located in the city of San Francisco; the Saint Mary's Gaels, from Moraga in the East Bay; and the Santa Clara Broncos, located in Santa Clara. All three are charter members of the West Coast Conference, and consider each other major rivals.

The following table shows the college teams in the Bay Area that average more than 2,000 attendance:

California Golden Bears footballBerkeleyMemorial Stadium47,675
Stanford Cardinal footballStanfordStanford Stadium47,862
San Jose State Spartans footballSan JoseCEFCU Stadium15,068
California Golden Bears men's basketballBerkeleyHaas Pavilion5,627
Stanford Cardinal men's basketballStanfordMaples Pavilion3,894
Saint Mary's Gaels men's basketballMoragaMcKeon Pavilion3,085
Stanford Cardinal women's basketballStanfordMaples Pavilion3,063
California Golden Bears women's basketballBerkeleyHaas Pavilion3,000
Stanford Cardinal women's volleyballStanfordMaples Pavilion2,425
San Francisco Dons men's basketballSan FranciscoWar Memorial Gymnasium2,100

Other sports

The Bay Area was the host for the 2013 America's Cup. The Bay Area has a leading and innovative alternative, outdoor and action sports culture. Examples include mountain biking, Alcatraz triathlon, Team Handball (Olympic Handball), skate boarding/Thrasher Magazine, CrossFit (Santa Cruz) and surfing at well known breaks such as Steamer Lane, Mavericks, Ocean Beach and Bodega Bay.

TPC Stonebrae is a private golf club that hosts the TPC Stonebrae Championship, part of the Tour since 2009.

SF CALHEAT[35] is a Team Handball club which participates in tournaments across the nation at all levels

San Francisco Team Handball is the only Team Handball club focused on youth (U14 / Middle School) and (U18 / High School), competing at local and international levels.


With an ideal climate for outdoor activities, San Francisco has ample resources and opportunities for amateur and participatory sports and recreation. There are more than 200 miles (320 km) of bicycle paths, lanes and bike routes in the city,[36] and the Embarcadero and Marina Green are favored sites for skateboarding. Extensive public tennis facilities are available in Golden Gate Park and Dolores Park, as well as at smaller neighborhood courts throughout the city. San Francisco residents have often ranked among the fittest in the U.S.[37] Golden Gate Park has miles of paved and unpaved running trails as well as a golf course and disc golf course.

Boating, sailing, windsurfing and kitesurfing are among the popular activities on San Francisco Bay, and the city maintains a yacht harbor in the Marina District. The St. Francis Yacht Club and Golden Gate Yacht Club are located in the Marina Harbor.[38][39] The South Beach Yacht Club is located next to AT&T Park and Pier 39 has an extensive marina.[40][41]

Historic Aquatic Park located along the northern San Francisco shore hosts two swimming and rowing clubs.[42][43] The South End Rowing Club, established in 1873, and the Dolphin Club maintain a friendly rivalry between members. Swimmers can be seen daily braving the typically cold bay waters.

Defunct or relocated teams


San Jose had a women's basketball team from 2005–2006 in the National Women's Basketball League called the San Jose Spiders.[44]

American football

From 1995–2008, as well as between 2011–2015, the Bay had the San Jose SaberCats of the Arena Football League, who played at the SAP Center at San Jose.[20] The SaberCats won 3 ArenaBowls (XVI,[45] XVIII,[46] XXI[47]), and lost in another (XXII[48]).

The Bay Area had a United Football League team in 2009 named the California Redwoods, who played at AT&T Park[13] and Spartan Stadium, though the Redwoods moved to Sacramento in 2010.[49]


Before the Sharks, the Bay Area had the California Golden Seals, who had been previously named the California Seals and the Oakland Seals. The Seals came into existence in the 1967 NHL expansion.[50] The Seals played at the Oakland–Alameda County Coliseum Arena (now Oracle Arena). The Seals later became the Cleveland Barons in 1976 and then merged with the Minnesota North Stars in 1978 (who in turn later became the Dallas Stars).[51] The Golden Seals/Barons franchise is notable as the last franchise in North America's four major leagues to permanently cease operations.

For one season (1995–96), it was home to the San Francisco Spiders of the International Hockey League.[52]

On September 20, 2011, the San Francisco Bulls were founded as an expansion team in the ECHL. Beginning play in 2012, the team (based at the Cow Palace) was the farm team of the NHL's San Jose Sharks before folding mid-season on January 27, 2014.[53]


Before the existence of the current San Jose Earthquakes of MLS, a separate San Jose Earthquakes played for the original North American Soccer League, Major Indoor Soccer League, and the Western Soccer Alliance.[54] After they folded, the San Francisco Bay Blackhawks played for the WSA. Eventually, the Blawkhawks became the San Jose Hawks, and folded in 1993.

San Jose Grizzlies were a professional indoor soccer team based in San Jose, California. The team was founded in 1993 as a member of the Continental Indoor Soccer League. After playing in the 1994 and 1995 CISL seasons, the Grizzlies folded following the 1995 season. The team played at San Jose Arena.[55]

FC Gold Pride was a charter member of Women's Professional Soccer, playing alongside the Earthquakes in the league's inaugural 2009 season before moving to Hayward for 2010. Led by Brazilian star Marta, the team had a championship season in 2010, but folded after the season.[56] WPS itself played only one more season before folding. The Bay Area has yet to have a franchise in WPS' effective successor, the current National Women's Soccer League.

San Francisco Deltas was a charter member of North American Soccer League to play at the Kezar Stadium in 2017. The Deltas beat the New York Cosmos 2-0 to win the Soccer Bowl 2017, but folded after the season.

Stadiums and arenas


Levi's StadiumSanta Clara68,500FootballSan Francisco 49ers
San Jose Earthquakes (some games)
RingCentral ColiseumOakland63,026Multi-purposeOakland Raiders
Oakland Athletics
California Memorial StadiumBerkeley62,717FootballCalifornia Golden Bears1923
Stanford StadiumStanford50,000FootballStanford Cardinal1921; 2006
Oracle ParkSan Francisco41,503BaseballSan Francisco Giants2000
CEFCU StadiumSan Jose30,456FootballSan Jose State Spartans1933
SAP Center at San JoseSan Jose18,543ArenaSan Jose Sharks
San Jose Barracuda
Avaya StadiumSan Jose18,000SoccerSan Jose Earthquakes2015
Chase CenterSan Francisco18,064ArenaGolden State Warriors2019
Cow PalaceDaly City12,953Arena1941
San Jose Municipal StadiumSan Jose4,200BaseballSan Jose Giants
San Jose State Spartans


Candlestick ParkSan Francisco70,207Multi-purposeSan Francisco Giants
San Francisco 49ers


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