Fans are mostly well behaved in return of Battle of the Bay 

click to enlarge Two Raiders fans show their excitement, while a Niners fan gave a thumbs-down to Sunday’s happenings at the Coliseum. Police reported nothing unusual from a typical Raiders game. - MIKE KOOZMIN/THE S.F. EXAMINER
  • mike koozmin/the s.f. examiner
  • Two Raiders fans show their excitement, while a Niners fan gave a thumbs-down to Sunday’s happenings at the Coliseum. Police reported nothing unusual from a typical Raiders game.

OAKLAND -- A San Francisco-like overcast sky greeted the 49ers on Sunday when they -- and their own fan contingent -- engaged in the Battle of the Bay against the Raiders, the first meeting between the regional rivals since shootings and stabbings at a 2011 preseason affair put the annual ritual on hiatus.

Whether it was the cool reception, the serious police presence at O.co Coliseum, or the going price of $100 or more for the honor of entry, to enjoy what's now a rare privilege of a transbay pro football game, what troublemakers are out there seemed to stay at home.

None of the violence from the August 2011 game at Candlestick Park -- dozens of fistfights in the stands, a fan beaten unconscious in a bathroom and two fans shot -- was repeated in the trip across San Francisco Bay.

Before, during and after the surprising 24-13 Oakland victory, friends in clashing jerseys chatted about draft picks, made small talk about where 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh would be working next year and inquired as to the whereabouts of quarterback Colin Kaepernick's skill set.

The scene was serene from the opening hours. The last words of a sermon from a church service set up in a lot near the Capital Corridor train tracks could be heard from the walkway leading from BART. On the other side, a solitary Black Hole fan section member, in full costume, stood in front of his silver-and-black Dodge Charger, toy katana held high.

Even when shouting or snarling team names and other descriptors at each other every few seconds, Raiders and Niners fans alike kept it civil.

"We're getting along real good," said a face-painted superfan at the Black Hole's official tailgate, who identified himself as Raider Skullz. "We're taking pictures together, we're doing shots together."

Indeed: 49ers fans in Frank Gore and Ronnie Lott jerseys posed for pictures with the likes of Senor, the Black Hole's full-uniform-clad, sombrero-wearing fanatic, who took sips from a massive plastic cup in between muttering "Rrrrrraiders."

"I thought it would be rowdier, but it's not," said Skullz's companion, Maria, who is from Richmond. "It is [civil], and it feels real good."

There was some isolated trouble before kickoff. Broadcast news reported two pregame fights and Alameda County sheriff's deputies brought in three men in handcuffs to their mobile command station before the game.

However, Assistant Sheriff Casey Nice said this activity was "no different than any other game."

And it wasn't without pride that Nice noted the Raiders' reputation as one of the safest home venues in the NFL.

That's in part thanks to a security presence marked by guards posted on temporary towers who stood watch for the police officers and sheriff's deputies making rounds on horses, on motorcycles and on foot.

Arrest totals weren't available Sunday night, but Nice said Alameda County -- independently of the Oakland Police Department -- makes about 10 arrests per game, mostly for drunkenness, scalped tickets or outstanding warrants.

Inside the Coliseum, fans in scarlet 49ers jerseys stood in the Black Hole's front row without incident -- and made their way to the exits just as safely.

Maybe that fiasco at Candlestick Park was isolated.

Judging by the scene Sunday, which felt more like a family barbecue with extended cousins than a "battle," the notion that football fans can be counted on to behave like model citizens isn't so outrageous.

About The Author

Chris Roberts

Chris Roberts

Bio:
Chris Roberts has worked as a reporter in San Francisco since 2008, with an emphasis on city governance and politics, The City’s neighborhoods, race, poverty and the drug war.
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