Detroit Lions fans go to Santa Clara to play against San Francisco
The new-look Detroit Lions, now just 60 minutes away from the Super Bowl, have instilled hope, joy and even confidence in a long-suffering fan base. But not many fans are as confident as Jan Firkus’ husband, Mike. He bought two plane tickets to San Francisco even before the Lions beat the Los Angeles Rams in their opener.
“He was trying to surprise me, but I received an email from Delta confirming my flight,” Jan Firkus said.
In Bloomfield Hills, longtime Lions fan Dan Irvin showed similar courage, purchasing two plane tickets to the Bay Area for himself and his son, Danny, immediately after the Lions’ win over the Rams.
“I thought, ‘I’m going to do everything I can, I don’t care,'” Dan Irvin said. “If it doesn’t come together, I’ll still be going to San Francisco.”
The Lions have one of the best traveling fan bases in the NFL this season, sometimes stunning opponents by taking over large portions of their stadiums. Now comes one of the biggest logistical challenges as the Lions face their biggest game in more than three decades, 2,400 miles away in Santa Clara.
“We have a great fan base, and I expect there will be a lot of blue on the field,” Firkus said. “We’ve been traveling well all season, and I know a lot of people in Detroit are trying to go.”
Not cheap, but not as expensive as some might think
Irvin and Firkus travel to San Francisco, where they both have old friends they want to visit before the game. But for Lions fans seriously interested in attending the game, a flight to Norman Y. Mineta San Jose International Airport may make more sense — it’s only about 7 miles from Levi’s Stadium, home of the 49ers, while San Francisco International Airport is more than 30 miles away. Mila.
The flight from Detroit Wayne County International Airport to San Jose, Saturday through Monday, cost about $500 with a reasonable layover as of Monday afternoon. Flights to San Francisco ranged from $420 to $660 with a layover.
Tickets for the game at Levi’s Stadium were available Monday on Ticketmaster.com starting at $595 and going up to more than $2,200 — in line with Ford Field’s postseason prices for the past two weeks. Irvin has not yet purchased his tickets. “We’re watching it closely, trying to see if the prices will go up or down,” he said.
Hotels very close to the stadium were surprisingly affordable as of Monday. A two-night stay starting Saturday at the Ramada by Wyndham Sunnyvale/Silicon Valley, just about 1.5 miles from the stadium, costs $139 per night on Hotels.com, including taxes and fees. Those looking for a more upscale experience can try the Hyatt Centric Santa Clara Silicon Valley for about $350 per night.
Transportation to and from these hotels to the stadium via taxi or Uber generally costs less than $20 — but may be bumped up for an NFC Championship Game. Some hotels may operate a shuttle service to the stadium. The area’s Valley Transportation Authority provides Caltrain light rail, which provides a connection to the stadium from San Francisco, as well as VTA bus services to the stadium. Cost is $15 or less.
“The greatest year of our lives as sports fans.”
Irvin was a Lions season ticket holder for many years at the old Pontiac Silverdome, then the first few years at Ford Field. Life got busy and season tickets were cancelled, but he and his son still frequently attended Lions games.
Free Press sports columnist Carlos Munarez in May 2019 described Danny Irvin as a “fantastic fan” of the Lions’ youth, staunchly supportive of the team despite its losing ways.
Danny, now 22, is preparing to graduate with a degree from the University of Michigan, which just won its national championship in football earlier this month.
“It was the greatest year of our lives as sports fans” as we watched both the Lions and Wolverines have so much success, Dan Irvin said.
The Ervins recreated their Lions season tickets just as failed general manager and coach Bob Quinn and Matt Patricia were shown the door, just as Brad Holmes and Dan Campbell were brought in to try again. “We bought from the bottom,” Irvin said.
With another friend, the Ervins have developed a “world-class tailgate” just outside Ford Field, sometimes drawing as many as 100 friends new and old.
“A lot of support and a lot of suffering for a long time.”
“It’s like a homecoming,” Irvin said. “I see high school friends, college friends, work friends — they’ve heard about this and want to be a part of it. Then there are the people you recognize from the hallway” in your section of the playground. He said it brings metro Detroiters together — of diverse races, ages and incomes — in a way that other sports in Detroit don’t. And the Lions’ amazing season and postseason run made it even more amplified and special.
“It’s emotional in a way that I never thought sports could make me,” Irvin said. “There’s been a lot of advocacy and a lot of suffering for a long time. And to see it actually happen is inspiring.”
Irvin was there to see the Pistons and Red Wings win championships. But if the Lions had to do it? “It will be the biggest thing to ever happen in this city, many times over,” he said.
An old lion jacket in the basement, revived
Jan Firkus and her husband grew up in sports-loving, Lions-loving families. She grew up in East Lansing, and her father, Fred Tinning, in addition to being an instructor at Michigan State University’s medical school, was the Spartans’ football team chaplain for eight years under then-coach Darrell Rogers, who later became the Lions’ team chaplain. trainer.
Jane Firkus lost her parents in 2019, and suddenly became her father on Thanksgiving. Her sister also died last year.
In preparation for the Lions’ playoff game against the Rams, Firkus was searching for an old favorite Lions sweater from years ago. She couldn’t find it, then remembered that it was stored in the basement.
“When I wore it to the game, I realized it was what I was wearing on the last day I saw my father before he died,” she said. “The last picture of me with my dad, I’m wearing the black jacket. Obviously I’m going to be wearing that jacket when I get to the game in Santa Clara.”
It’s hard for Virkus to dare dream of a Lions Super Bowl appearance.
“I get really nervous about this kind of stuff, because I want them so badly to win,” she said. “But I have a really good feeling about it. ‘They have the spirit of Detroit.’
Contact Keith Matheny: firstname.lastname@example.org.