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Ramey: San Jose Earthquakes had a troubled past and a bright future

They’ve been the called the Clash, the Blackhawks and the Quakes. They’ve been uprooted, relocated, and born again. They’ve played matches at Spartan Stadium, Buck Shaw Stadium, Candlestick, Oakland Coliseum, Stanford Stadium, Levi’s Stadium, Kezar Stadium.

Now? Now they call Avaya Stadium Home. They are the San Jose Earthquakes, and since 1974 they have been the Bay Area’s premiere destination for soccer. That’s because in 1974, the Quakes joined the NASL in a big move to put San Jose on the sports world’s map. Before the Sharks brought hockey, soccer was king south of San Francisco.

If you’re wondering, the team name “Earthquakes” was chosen by the Original GM Dick Berg, a former QB at Stanford who turned out to be a marketing wizard. Berg knew how to pack the stands, even if people were critical of the name due to it’s proximity to the San Andreas Fault, which I assume was THE POINT, but the Bay Area was the Bay Area, even in the mid 70’s. But, in 1984, the high-spending NASL folded, and the Quakes, and the future of professional Bay Area, and national, soccer was in doubt. The Quakes were forced to head to the Western Soccer League before the team folded and came back to the American Professional Soccer League as the San Francisco Blackhawks. They then went to the United States Indoor Soccer League in 1993. Despite putting out great players like George Best, Paul Child, Jonny Moore, Gabbo Gavoric, the Demling brothers, Laurie Collaway, Eric Wynalda, John Doyle, and Troy Dayak, the team folded once more at the end of the 1993 season.

We pause here because of the major influence on American soccer coming in 1994. Through the late 80’s and into the early 90’s, the United States planned to host the 1994 World Cup. As part of that successful bid to host the Cup, the U.S. had to start a premiere soccer league, spawning Major League Soccer. The first ever match in MLS history took place at Spartan Stadium in San Jose, with the then-named San Jose CLASH hosting D.C. United, a match San Jose won 1-0.

The early years of MLS were good to the Quakes, with the team winning Championships in 2001 and 2003. It all came crashing down, however, at the end of the 2005 season when, due to the team’s inability to land a soccer-specific stadium, it was announced the Quakes were relocating to Houston to become the Dynamo. In what was a wise move, MLS commissioner Don Garber decreed San Jose would retain the Earthquakes name, colors, almost all branding and before putting the team on what was termed a “hiatus.” This allowed the team to return to MLS pretty seamlessly in 2008, under the ownership of then A’s owners Lew Wolff and John Fisher, and play its games at Buck Shaw Stadiun, not Spartan stadium, as had previously been the club’s consistent home. The new Quakes leadership was able build what we now call “Avaya Stadium” the permanent home of the club, which opened in 2015, and has since been hailed as one of the premiere soccer specific stadium’s in the world.

The Earthquakes home, Avaya Stadium, has become a fortress in the South Bay. In addition to becoming a distinct home field advantage, Avaya Stadium is one of the most striking stadiums in all sports, designed in the mold of European soccer stadiums. Its angled exterior gives way to a blindingly bright pitch, surrounded by pitch level suites and encompassed by seats in multiple shades of blue. At the north end of the stadium is one of the most unique scenes in sports world-wide: The TCL 4k Bar. It is the longest outdoor bar in North America, and sits across the street from SJC airport, making it the norm to see planes landing and taking off in the background of matches. Avaya Stadium has played host to the Earthquakes now since 2015 and has hosted the USWNT, the NCAA Women’s College Cup and the 2016 MLS All Star Game with the MLS stars and Arsenal of the EPL. It’s even played host to Manchester United when they came to town to take on the Quakes as part of the International Champions Cup North America in 2015.  Again, Avaya Stadium has built its reputation as being one of soccer’s most amazing settings for a reason.

Now, me? I’m Ted Ramey and I’ve been the Earthquakes radio play-by-play announcer since the 2014 season, but I am no newcomer to the San Jose soccer scene. My dad, Hal Ramey, broadcasted for the Earthquakes from 1976-1983, and did TV play-by-play duties for San Jose when MLS burst onto the scene, starting in 1996. And yes, I was at that first ever MLS match at Spartan Stadium as a very excited 13-year-old. So was my broadcast partner Joe Cannon. Joe is a 2x MLS GK of the year, and was THE MAN for the Quakes when they won it all in 2001. We have a great time broadcasting the matches, and I think I give Joe enough fodder for each match to last him a life time.

I am all over the Quakes, and soccer in general. When word came down that Jurgen Klinsmann was being fired by US Soccer, we had ESPN and Sirius Analyst Brian Dunseth on my day time show within minutes of the firing. On Wednesday nights from 7p-8p, you can hear even more soccer coverage on “The Soccer Hour” on 1050, where I’m consistently joined by Earthquakes players and coaches, plus international players, coaches, team executives, writers, TV personalities, broadcasters, and legends like Julie Foudy of USWNT. Point being: We keep you covered and entertained on the futbol side of things.

My day-to-day role is the host of “The Ted Ramey Show” which airs 12p-3p on KNBR 1050. The tagline attributed to me is “any topic, any time,” and yes, we do have fun. I take my work seriously, but not myself. I’ve been asked what the best part of my job is, and I always say “being wrong,” because that means the sports world is keeping us on our toes and giving us plenty to talk about. I couldn’t be happier to have the San Jose Earthquakes coming to the place I’ve called my radio home since 2009, when and where I began as an unpaid intern. Being on “the sports leader” means something not just in this market, but to the sports world as a whole. I’m on the road with the team, at training, and friends with the players. We’ll have unparalleled access to the Quakes here at KNBR 1050, and on, and I can’t wait to bring our broadcasts and coverage to the vast audience that only the KNBR brand can bring.

KNBR and the Quakes, #ForwardAsOne


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