Kezar Stadium

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Kezar Stadium
Wfm kezar stadium.jpg
Location 755 Stanyan Street
San Francisco, California
Coordinates 37°46′01″N 122°27′22″W / 37.767°N 122.456°W / 37.767; -122.456Coordinates: 37°46′01″N 122°27′22″W / 37.767°N 122.456°W / 37.767; -122.456
Owner The City and County
of San Francisco
Operator San Francisco Recreation & Parks Department
Capacity 59,942 (1925–1989)
9,044 (1990–present)
Surface Natural grass
Construction
Broke ground 1924
Opened May 2, 1925
Renovated 1989–1990 (reconstruction)
Demolished 1989 (original)
Construction cost $300,000 (original structure)
($4.03 million in 2014 dollars[1])
Architect Willis Polk
Tenants
San Francisco 49ers (NFL / AAFC)
(19461970)
Oakland Raiders (AFL) (1960)
San Francisco Dragons (MLL) (2006–2007)
California Victory (USL-1) (2007)
San Francisco Freedom (PC) (2004)
San Francisco Dogfish (MLU)
Bay Area Breeze (W-League) (2013–present)

Kezar Stadium is a stadium located adjacent to Kezar Pavilion in the southeastern corner of Golden Gate Park in San Francisco, California. It is the former home of the San Francisco 49ers and the Oakland Raiders (first AFL season only) of the National Football League (NFL), and of the San Francisco Dragons of Major League Lacrosse. It also served as the home of the California Victory of the USL First Division before the club folded. Kezar also hosts amateur and recreation sports leagues, as well as numerous San Francisco high school football games (including the city championship, known popularly as the "Turkey Bowl").

History[edit]

In 1922, the San Francisco Park Commission accepted a $100,000 gift from the estate of Mary Kezar, intended to build a memorial in honor of Kezar's mother and uncles who were pioneers in the area. After the City and County of San Francisco appropriated an additional $200,000, the stadium was built in a year. Dedication ceremonies were held on May 2, 1925, and featured a two-mile (3.2 km) footrace between Ville Ritola and Paavo Nurmi of Finland, two of the greatest runners of the era.

1930s[edit]

The stadium had many uses in the 1930s, and in addition to track and field competitions, Kezar Stadium also hosted motorcycle racing, auto racing, rugby, lacrosse, soccer, baseball, boxing, cricket and football. In September 1932 the Australian Cricket Team played a North California All star team in the Australians 56 game tour of the U.S. and Canada. Sir Donald Bradman, statistically the world's highest scorer in any sport with a 99.94 batting average, scored 66 runs in his Kezar Stadium innings.(Source:David Sentance, Cricket in America 1710–2000 McFarland Pub 2006). The stadium was also the home field of several local colleges such as Santa Clara, USF, St. Mary's, and the now defunct San Francisco Polytechnic High School. In 1926 the Stadium also became the home of the East-West Shrine Game.

Football[edit]

Kezar Stadium in 1955,
from Mt. Olympus

In the 1928 city high school championship game between San Francisco Polytechnic and Lowell, over 50,000 attended the matchup between the bitter cross-town rivals. That game still holds attendance records for a high school football game in northern California. The Bruce Mahoney rivalry football game between St. Ignatius College Preparatory and Sacred Heart Cathedral Prep is held here every fall as well.

Stanford University played four of its home football games at Kezar; one in 1928 and three in 1942. Stanford was also part of the first-ever major college football double header in 1940, which featured StanfordSan Francisco and Santa ClaraUtah.[2]

Kezar Stadium was the founding home of two professional football teams, the San Francisco 49ers[3] and Oakland Raiders, many NFL Hall of Famers, historical NFL games, and where the "ally-oop" was invented.[4] The Raiders played at Kezar for their first four homes games in 1960, and at Candlestick Park during the remainder of their first two seasons,[5] before Frank Youell Field was built as a temporary facility in Oakland. The 49ers moved to the modern and more accessible stadium at Candlestick Park in 1971 and played the final NFL game at Kezar, losing the 1970 NFC Championship Game to the Dallas Cowboys, 17–10, on January 3, 1971, where afterwards, fans set to tearing the stadium apart looking for souvenirs or with mayhem on their mind. Kezar Stadium was also home field for the San Francisco Stingrayz women's professional football team from 2003–2005 until the team was forced to end their season due to a bus accident which injured many players. The Stingrayz were one of the Bay Area's women tackle football teams in the Women's Professional Football League, and then the Independent Women's Football League.

1970s[edit]

Dirty Harry[edit]

Months after the 49ers' departure, several scenes from the 1971 film Dirty Harry were filmed at and above the stadium. The film's fictional antagonist, the Scorpio Killer (played by Andrew Robinson), worked as the caretaker at the stadium and lived under the grandstand.[4]

Concerts[edit]

With the loss of professional football in 1971, the stadium became a popular outdoor concert venue, and its proximity to the Haight-Ashbury District helped with the transition. Notable performers at Kezar included Led Zeppelin, Throbbing Gristle,The Doobie Brothers, Jefferson Starship, Tower of Power, Joan Baez, The Grateful Dead, The New Riders of the Purple Sage, Carlos Santana, The Crunchees, Waylon Jennings, and Neil Young.

Demolition and reconstruction[edit]

Kezar Stadium in October 2011
The replica arch at Kezar Stadium.
Plaque of NFL Hall of Famer
Bob St. Clair at Kezar Stadium

With pending demolition, the bleacher planks of Kezar Stadium were sold off to fans at a party in April 1989.[6][7] In June, the stadium was demolished and rebuilt with a much smaller seating capacity of 10,000. The upgrades included an eight-lane, all-weather track and a grass athletic infield suitable for soccer, football, and lacrosse.[8]

During the reconstruction, the field and track configurations were shifted several degrees counterclockwise, to move the stadium away from Frederick Street. The evidence for this can be seen by examining photos of the tunnel entrance at the east end of the field, which used to be exactly on the long axis of the track. A replica of the original concrete arch bearing the name "Kezar Stadium" was built on the west side of the stadium as a tribute to the original structure. A plaque of NFL Hall of Famer Bob St. Clair, a San Francisco native who played 11 seasons (1953–63) at Kezar Stadium, is built into the replica arch.

Soccer and other sports[edit]

With the 2006 West Coast expansion of Major League Lacrosse, Kezar Stadium once again became a home to a professional team, the San Francisco Dragons. In October 2006, United Soccer Leagues (USL) and Spanish football club Deportivo Alavés announced that the new pro soccer team, named California Victory, played their 2007 home games at Kezar. The Victory played in the USL's First Division, one level below Major League Soccer. However, Alaves later withdrew their support and the team folded.

In 2004 it served as the home of the San Francisco Freedom, the city's Pro Cricket team.

Sacred Heart Cathedral Preparatory, a nearby Catholic high school uses the field for their home football games. Mission High School also uses the field for home games and the annual Battle of the Birds game between George Washington and Lowell is also played at Kezar every year. Kezar has also been the host of several Northern California Semi-pro football championship games.

In 2010, 2011, and 2012, Stanford University held its spring football game at Kezar. For the 2012 and 2016 San Francisco Olympic bids, Kezar was designated to host field hockey had San Francisco been chosen in either year.

Women's soccer[edit]

The San Francisco Nighthawks, founded in 1995 and a member of the Women's Premier Soccer League, play their home games at Kezar. The Bay Area Breeze of the W-League started play there in 2013.[9]

College lacrosse[edit]

Kezar is also the home to the annual San Francisco Fall Lacrosse Classic, an NCAA Division I fall ball game started in 2009 to benefit the Bay Area Youth Sports Foundation. The first event was between Brown and North Carolina. It was the first Division I men's lacrosse played in Northern California. North Carolina beat Brown 13–5 in front of a crowd of more than 4500. Special certificates marking the occasion were presented to each team on behalf of the Mayor, SF Board of Supervisors, and the City and County by Director of San Francisco Recreation and Parks Department Phil Ginsburg. The 2010 event featured storied lacrosse powerhouse Johns Hopkins and Notre Dame on Saturday, October 16, 2010. Notre Dame beat Hopkins 10–7. The third installment took place on Saturday, October 8, 2011 and featured the University of Denver and Harvard University. The fourth installment took place Sunday October 21, 2012 in a match between Lehigh and Ohio State.[10] As a direct result of the San Francisco Fall Lacrosse Classic, the BAYS Foundation has made over $225,000 in grants to local youth sports and educations programs for under-resourced children throughout the Bay Area.[10]

Gaelic football[edit]

Kezar was home to the San Francisco GAA football league.

Ultimate[edit]

Starting in 2013, Kezar is currently home to Major League Ultimate (MLU) team, the San Francisco Dogfish.[11]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Consumer Price Index (estimate) 1800–2014. Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis. Retrieved February 27, 2014.
  2. ^ Fimrite, Ron (September 5, 1977). "A melding of men all suited to a T". Sports Illustrated: 90. 
  3. ^ "They're leaving Kezar to kids and seagulls". Eugene Register-Guard. Associated Press. December 6, 1970. p. 2B. 
  4. ^ a b Turbow, Jason (20 January 2012). "West Coast Brew Gave Kezar Stadium Its Color". New York Times. 
  5. ^ The Oakland Raiders 2010 Media Guide. 
  6. ^ "Fans take home pieces of Kezar". (Sonora, CA) Union-Democrat. Associated Press. 7 April 1989. p. 3C. 
  7. ^ "Stadium to Be Razed : The Last Faithful Fans Take a Seat at Kezar". Los Angeles Times. 7 April 1989. Retrieved 1 February 2014. 
  8. ^ Kezar Stadium at Ballparks.com
  9. ^ "Breeze Tab Kezar Stadium as Home Field". United Soccer Leagues (USL). 2013-05-03. Retrieved 2012-05-04. 
  10. ^ a b "SFLacrosse.com: October 21, 2012 – Kezar Stadium, San Francisco CA – NCAA Division I Men's Lacrosse Returns to San Francisco – Sunday, October 21, 2012". Retrieved 2012-11-16. 
  11. ^ Phillips, John (14 January 2013). "6San Francisco Dogfish". Major League Ultimate. Retrieved 1 February 2014. 

External links[edit]

Preceded by
first stadium
Home of the
San Francisco 49ers

1946–1970
Succeeded by
Candlestick Park
Preceded by
first stadium
Home of the
Oakland Raiders

1960
Succeeded by
Candlestick Park
Preceded by
first stadium
Host of
NFC Championship Game

1971
Succeeded by
Texas Stadium