San Francisco hosts NFL celebration to kick off season

SAN FRANCISCO (KTVU) -- The NFL football season starts Thursday, and the league kicked it off in a big way Wednesday with a two-day event in San Francisco.

The host city for Super Bowl 50 is Santa Clara. The celebratory "NFL Kickoff to 50" festivities are held in San Francisco's Justin Herman Plaza and Pier 35.

One of the big attractions is a free concert featuring Train and Ellie Goulding with gates opening at 2:30 p.m. Thursday afternoon.

On Wednesday, fans celebrated with what they're calling the ultimate fanfest.

The Niner Noise Drumline performed a drum roll of sorts to greet fans as they entered Pier 35.

Once inside, it was all things NFL football.

"It definitely gets you hyped up for the season that's coming up," said Jonathan Hutchins a fan from Milpitas.

The festivities featured a focus on the two Bay Area teams.

"It's so exciting! So loud! All the people are coming through. Got to meet 49er cheerleaders and take pictures," said Danielle Hutchins who attended with her husband and their two daughters.

For 11-year-old fan Wyatt Glass of Walnut Creek, it was a chance to practice his receiving skills.

"It's exciting," said Wyatt, who came with his mother, Mistie Glass.

"We're season ticket holders for the Raiders, ever since they came back," she told KTVU.

There is anticipation and excitement as a new season is about to begin, one that is tinged with a sense of nostalgia.

"People come out there and ask for autographs. It's kind of fun. At least they don't forget you," said NFL great and former Raider quarterback Jim Plunkett as the met with fans.

The Bay Area native tells KTVU he'd like to see his former team stay.

"I personally believe that the Raiders belong in Oakland whether that's the case I don't know," said Plunkett.

Fans were enthused to meet their heroes from Super Bowls past.

"I got Jim Plunkett to sign my mini helmet here as well as Cliff Branch," said Christian Cabuay of Emeryville.
He said he has allegiance to both the silver and black and the red and gold, but with an admitted bias.

"I grew up as a Niner fan and a Raider fan. My dad always liked the Niners and I liked the Raiders because they're the bad guys," said Cabuay.

Bay Area football fans say they can't ask for more with two teams in the league.

They have eyes on the Vince Lombardi trophy, a reward that would especially sweet since Super Bowl 50 will be played in Santa Clara.

"There's nothing like the feeling of a Super Bowl. It's electric. I would urge any NFL fans to get out there and go to a Super Bowl," said Mistie Glass.

Fans say the best part is that all the kickoff festivities are free. For more information on the kickoff celebration, visit the SF Super Bowl website.

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