Hampton Roads Niner Empire creates strong San Francisco football presence in the 757

Posted at 9:20 AM, Feb 02, 2020

NEWPORT NEWS, Va. - Hampton roads is just under 3,000 miles from Levi's Stadium, home of the San Francisco 49ers, but distance hasn't stopped 49er fans from having a strong presence in the 757.

The Hampton Roads Niners Empire, one of hundreds of 49ers team chapters that span across the world, meets every game day.

The group watches games District 41 Sports Bar in Newport News, and has expanded to a Southside Chapter that meets in Norfolk on game days.

The organization draws a crowd large enough to fill bars to the point where it's standing room only.

"It's crazy, out of this world," Hampton Roads Niner Empire co-founder Mario Hamlin said. "Kids running around, adults acting like kids. It's truly amazing."

"We're all one family," Hampton Roads Niner Empire co-founder Steve Mead added.

Some of the chapter's members, like Mead, developed their love fro the Niners while growing up in the Bay Area, while others gravitated toward cheering for San Francisco because of family members who cheered for the team.

"My uncle was a 49ers fan and it just kind of stuck," Southside Chapter president Braxton Gaskins said. "They were winning Super Bowls with Jerry Rice and Joe Montana."

"My uncle was the only 49er fan in the house, in the whole family, actually," Hamlin said. "He would always pick on me. We never got along, so I knew one thing that would make me get along with him was to become a 49er."