My Mixed Emotions About San Jose Hosting Super Bowl 50

As a football fan, an artist, an advocate for San Jose's cultural scene, Demone Carter wonders why the city's effort to create engaging public spaces is only created for the guests of Super Bowl 50.

My feelings about the impending Bay Area Super Bowl are decidedly mixed.

As a rabid NFL fan (albeit a supporter of the currently lackluster 49ers) I can’t help but find something cool about the biggest sporting event in the universe taking place in my backyard. Cam Newton was spotted grabbing a bite at La Vic’s on Monday, so what’s not to like about the Super Bowl right?

Quite a bit actually.

The attempted vanishing of the homeless, the erecting of ‘clean zones’ where street vendors are barred from milking the tourism cash cow, local government bending over backwards for a monolithic corporate entity like the NFL, to name a few. As a person who cares about issues of equity and gentrification, there’s a lot to feel queasy about hosting the Super Bowl.

A transformed Cesar Chavez Plaza in Downtown San Jose

On the other hand as a rapper and advocate for local arts It’s been great to see my friends and colleagues get booked for Super Bowl related events.

Also as a proponent of all things San Jose I've been impressed with the transformation of public space taking place downtown. I walked out of San Pedro Square on Saturday and saw a grass football field laid down the middle of the street. Kids and families were interacting and enjoying themselves in a way rarely seen in this city. In Cesar Chavez park some of San Jose’s  best DJ’s and bands will be playing sets all weekend surrounded by food trucks and newly installed lighting and staging.

This is the exact type of space activation that San Jose has been needing for some time. I often sit in rooms with smart community leaders who have lamented for years about not having robust activity in public spaces and now Super Bowl 50 being here has suddenly brought this sorely needed vitality into being, but only temporarily.

When I was a kid and we would have guests coming over my mom would make us clean the house extra good. Special plates and silverware were broken out and new towels would be purchased. As I scrubbed the toilet for a second time I would grit my teeth and wonder to myself, “Why do we do all this for guests but not for ourselves?”

This is exactly how I feel like downtown’s current Super Bowl makeover. When the powers that be are ready to put Super Bowl level effort into activating public spaces on the average Thursday night San Jose will have arrived as a true urban center.

For more related stories on Super Bowl 50, check out the links below:

A Glimpse Into The Underground World of Selling Sex At The Superbowl

San Jose Street Musician Calls Out Super Bowl Week Vendor Ban

About Demone Carter

Demone Carter is the 2016 Silicon Valley Artist Laureate, Hip Hop Emcee, Community Organizer, and Social Entrepreneur from San Jose, California. Follow him on twitter: @lifeafterhiphop.

This article is part of the categories: Community  / San Jose//South Bay 
This article is part of the tags: Cesar Chavez Plaza  / Public Space  / San Jose  / San Pedro Square  / Super Bowl 50  / Urban Center 


Very well written! San Jose should make San Jose a great place to be for our own community, not only while guests are in town.

It's like San Jose doesn't realize that if they made downtown a better place, $ would follow.

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