Lack of fans for Giants’ Opening Day hurts local business

Tuesday kicks off the 21st season at what is now Oracle Park.

But even on opening night, the vibrant neighborhood that surrounds it is now all but empty.

"Gameday. It's a non-thing," says Atwater Tavern owner John Caine.

From his tavern, you can see Oracle Park. But except for some cardboard cutouts, it's an empty sight these days.

Caine also owns the Hi Dive Bar on the Embarcadero, where fans often ducked in before or after games on their walk between the ballpark and BART.

But no longer. Not in the era of COVID-19. The games go on, for now, but without any fans allowed to watch in person.

"It has hit the neighborhood hard. Dog Patch, Mission Bay, South Beach near the Hi Dive, a lot of places that depend on Giants traffic," says Caine.

On the 20 previous opening days, the now-empty sidewalks near oracle were packed.

The Giants Dugout Store would be 10-deep at the checkout lines. Tuesday afternoon it almost looked closed.

The buzz of a typical opening day is now more of a whisper.  

"We used to do a carnival event with liquor companies and beer companies coming out and going crazy for opening day. Today, not so much," says Caine.

Giants CEO Larry Baer says fans will now have to cheer at online parties while watching games on television.

"Our hearts go out to our local neighbors who do depend on the giants for a lot of their foot traffic and business. My message would be we will be back," says Baer.

Caine estimates he will lose two-thirds of his business at his two bars during the season. His baseball season routine is changing.

I'll be watching the game at home in North Beach instead of bartending," he said.