As 49ers fans, we have been quite lucky. We have 5 Super Bowl victories, a plethora of Hall of Fame players (including the best QB and WR in NFL history) and some of the greatest plays in the NFL Film vault. Yep, it's safe to say that living in San Francisco, and being a 49er fan, would make a fan so proud he/she could burst.
Then we get word that a new stadium could be built (YESSSSSS)!!!!
...In Santa Clara...
OK, not bad. It might not be IN San Francisco, but it's in the Bay area. I mean, the New York Jets and Giants play in New Jersey. No worries. As long as those letters on the side of the Helmet are SF, it's all good...
But what if the team moved OUT of the Bay Area? Let's say, theoretically of course, the deal for a new stadium doesn't get done, and the Yorks go so nuts they decide to sell the team (yesssssssss) and the new owner decides the Niners will have a better market somewhere far outside of the Bay area, such as Las Vegas. So the Las Vegas 49ers are born, and the classic SF is replaced by a LV. Then what?
This is something not unfamiliar to the NFC West. Remember back in 1995 when our, what I believe, most hated rivals (historically at least) the Los Angeles Rams were moved to St. Louis because of a poor stadium, and poor stadium attendance. Unthinkable once upon a time. Imagine telling Eric Dickerson that one day, the LA Rams would play in a dome, under the gateway arch, not on the West Coast. Ludicrous!
Upon hearing news of the new Santa Clara stadium plan (and I do stress plan, there are a TON of hurdles that need to be cleared first, that Kawakami points out here), combined with the news that the Rams are for sale and they don't care if the owner wants to move them, some old thoughts climbed back in my head. I was talking with my father (a devout Rams fan) about the team's move to St. Louis in '95. By that point in time, we were living on the East Coast, so it's not like he was regularly attending games, but he still couldn't believe that the team he spent his whole life rooting for was not just changing locations, but changing time zones. He was heartbroken, but I always remembered something he would say concerning his loyalty to the team.
As long as those guys have the horns on the side of their helmet, I love 'em.
Truly a devoted fan, through and through...
But that got the 'What if...' machine running in my head again. What if the 49ers were to move far, far away from San Francisco? Far enough to force a name change and, by nature, a uniform change (since SF on the helmet when playing in, I don't know, Utah, would just seem silly). How would I react? How would I feel? Would I liken it to being dumped by the woman I loved for three years? Or losing a family member? Or would I take it in stride and continue with the same passion I have for the team now?
I know this is a ridiculous premise; the Niners have a fantastic fan base in the Bay area, but so did the Colts in Baltimore. So did the Browns in Cleavland (even though they got their team back... if you can call the Browns a team - PA ZING!). So did the Oilers in Houston. So while a move out of San Fran seems crazy, it is not out of the question.
The question I post to you today Nation; How would you feel if the 49ers were to move far away from San Francisco? (For the sake of arguments, let's define "far away" as more than four hours driving distance away from their current spot in the Bay area.) Would you feel hurt/betrayed? Would you continue to follow them with the same passion you currently had? Would you welcome the move (especially if you live outside the Bay area)? Or would it make no impact whatsoever on you?