Attending an Oakland Raiders game at the O.co Coliseum is an experience unlike anything else. I grew up in the Bay Area and have spent so much time at this nearly 46-year-old stadium I practically consider it my hometown.
Although I now live in the Pacific Northwest, I frequently fly down to Oakland to catch as many games as I can. If you'll be visiting the home of the Silver and Black this year, here is your guide to help you make the most of the experience.
Tailgating is a huge part of the fan experience, but with skyrocketing parking costs, you might plan to join a party already in progress and consider taking a ride on BART, or Bay Area Rapid Transit. It's a lot cheaper than parking and it'll take you right to the Coliseum. From there you can feel free to roam through tailgate parties and enjoy the aroma of everything BBQ along with a wide variety of characters all decked out in silver and black.
If you do drive, be sure to leave early as there are not only frequent back ups on 880, but with the new, and much tighter, security measures implemented at all NFL stadiums this year, it's going to take even longer to get to your seat.
With especially thorough security screening, including metal detection, it's imperative that you check the latest list of items that aren't allowed inside before heading to the game in order to avoid disappointment. Anything that can potentially be used as a weapon will not be allowed in. There are also no food or beverages allowed into the Coliseum, even bottled water.
The Raider Nation is one big family of hugely passionate fans. It doesn't matter if you're black, white, yellow or green, if you're a Raider fan, the feeling of camaraderie is truly incredible. If you aren't a Raider fan, you don't have anything to fear as long as you don't taunt fans of the Silver and Black - even then, in my opinion, Oakland fans can be far kinder than what I've seen at other stadiums (namely in Denver).
The Black Hole
If you're a passionate fan of the Silver and Black, you shouldn't miss the experience of sitting in the Black Hole. Choose a seat in sections 104 through 107 and you'll have the time of your life with NFL fans who really know how to have a good time. Denver Broncos' fans, or fans of any opposing team, should not sit in the Black Hole.
Be prepared to shell out lots of cash for food and beverages here just as you would at any sporting event. At close to $10 a beer, maybe they're trying to decrease the number of drunken fans, although it doesn't seem to deter too many people. The good news is, you can find Guinness on tap in Oakland. If you're going to pay that much for beer, it might as well be good!
BBQ at Everett and Jones is awesome, and the Chicken Teriyaki sandwich is one of the best I've tried anywhere. Vegetarians will be happy to find they can choose from some pretty decent non-meat options here too.
K.C. Dermody grew up in the Bay Area of California, and has been an Oakland Raiders fan from the time she could walk. She has continued her loyalty to the team through its many ups and downs over the decades, and has been privileged to meet several of her favorite players, including famed quarterback, Jim Plunkett.