The San Jose Earthquakes will remain inseparable from San Pedro Square Market.
As the 2022 World Cup begins this weekend in Qatar, the Quakes will host several viewing parties at the market complex, further cementing their own storied history in those buildings and their environs. High-profile tournament matches will appear on screens at the market, while other matches will stream live to screens at O’Flaherty’s Irish Pub and the Old Wagon Saloon, effectively transforming parts of San Pedro Square into the Earthquakes’ urban home base throughout the World Cup. This is long overdue. Any real city would have already been doing this for decades.
Normally the World Cup unfolds in the summer, but this year the tournament will take place in November and December. This means PayPal Park—normally the site for Quakes viewing parties—is already converted into a winter wonderland as part of the Enchant San Jose Christmas Village, from Nov. 25–Jan. 1. So, San Pedro Square it is, where the club’s own history in connection with a few particular buildings cannot be forgotten. Well, some people might want to forget. But I won’t.
First of all, some background. The San Pedro Square Market area fronting St. John used to be an entire series of meat-market nightclubs—Taste Ultralounge, Club Deep, Blue Tattoo, Club Ecco and Hamburger Mary’s, at least in my living memory—but nowadays when laptops, coffee hipsters and students compete for space with lawyers and tech bros, the thumping DJ vibe is long gone.
By multiple dimensions of improvement, 2014 was rocking beyond comparison at San Pedro Square Market when Lars Frederiksen of Rancid wrote a new San Jose Earthquakes theme song, “Never Say Die,” in conjunction with the team celebrating 40 years since the original club debuted in 1974. The Quakes 40th anniversary party was the most gargantuan assemblage I’ve ever seen in that neighborhood. One of Frederiksen’s numerous other bands, the Old Firm Casuals, performed “Never Say Die” inside the bar area—no coffee hipsters or wine snobs for this gig—and then outside during the speeches, more people filled the streets than for any other event in the history of that corner. The entire block of St. John between San Pedro and Almaden was jammed, elbow to elbow (see photo), for at least a couple hours, while various Quakes alumni and current executives took the podium to address the masses. History was made in pure San Jose fashion. It was the coolest of the cool.
I have written more details about this elsewhere, but even prior to these rocking events, what’s now the olive-green building on the corner of St. John and Almaden, the other portion of San Pedro Square Market, the portion that never seems to keep any tenants for that long, actually used to be the former Earthquakes main offices, for a very short time, circa 2004–2005, before then-operator AEG relocated the squad to Houston. Johnny Moore—a former Quakes hero from the NASL era who had also returned as general manager for the Quakes’ 2003 championship season—was instrumental in securing those offices for the Quakes.
Unfortunately, Moore was forced to walk out at the end of the 2003 season, never to actually work in the offices he fought for. After Moore quit, the misguided clowns at AEG installed one of their own, Alexi Lalas, whose job was then to basically sit there in his office playing acoustic guitar, like Nero fiddling while the franchise burned.
Following the 2005 campaign, the Quakes were gone, leaving nothing but two blue awnings on the outside of the building. Those awnings were then discarded and tossed into a nearby vacant lot, where they sat upturned next to construction materials for several years before one obsessed fan came along and donated them to History San Jose. In retrospect, AEG should have kept the team here and thrown Lalas into the vacant lot instead.
Nowadays, things are somewhat brighter. The Quakes returned in 2008 and opened their own stadium in 2015. San Pedro Square Market fills most of its buildings. Beginning this weekend, World Cup matches will sound off on screens throughout the area. This is what any real urban place would do. Go USA!