Candlestick Park

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Candlestick Park
Candlesticklogo.jpg

3Com98.jpg

Candlestick Park 2006-08-11.jpg
Former names Candlestick Park (1960–1995, 2008–2013)
3Com Park at Candlestick Point (1995–2002)
San Francisco Stadium at Candlestick Point (2002–2004)
Monster Park (2004–2008)
Location 602 Jamestown Avenue
San Francisco, California 94124
Coordinates 37°42′49″N 122°23′10″W / 37.71361°N 122.38611°W / 37.71361; -122.38611Coordinates: 37°42′49″N 122°23′10″W / 37.71361°N 122.38611°W / 37.71361; -122.38611
Broke ground August 12, 1958[1]
Opened April 12, 1960
Closed August 14, 2014
Demolished Late 2014 or early 2015
Owner The City and County of San Francisco
Operator San Francisco Recreation & Parks Department
Surface Bluegrass (1960–1969, 1979–2013)
AstroTurf (1970–1978)
Construction cost $15 million
($120 million in 2014 dollars[2])
Architect John Bolles & Associates
Structural engineer Chin and Hensolt, Inc.[3]
General contractor Charles Harney Co.[4]
Capacity 69,732[5] (Football)
Tenants
San Francisco Giants (MLB) (1960–1999)
San Francisco 49ers (NFL) (1971–2013)
Oakland Raiders (AFL) (1960-61)

Candlestick Park (also commonly referred to as Candlestick) is an outdoor sports and entertainment stadium located in San Francisco, California, in the Bayview Heights area. The stadium was originally built as the home of Major League Baseball's San Francisco Giants, who played there from 1960 until moving into Pacific Bell Park (since renamed AT&T Park) in 2000. It was also the home field of the San Francisco 49ers of the National Football League from 1971 to 2013. The 49ers are scheduled to move to Levi's Stadium (located in Santa Clara, California) at the beginning of the 2014 NFL season.

The stadium is situated at Candlestick Point on the western shore of the San Francisco Bay. Due to its location next to the bay, strong winds often swirl down into the stadium, creating unusual playing conditions. At the time of its construction in the late 1950s, the stadium site was one of the few pieces of land available in the city that was suitable for a sports stadium and had space for the 10,000 parking spaces promised to the Giants.

The surface of the field is natural bluegrass, but for nine seasons, from 1970 to 1978, the stadium had artificial turf. A "sliding pit" configuration, with dirt cut-outs only around the bases, was installed in 1971, primarily to keep the dust down in the breezy conditions. Following the 1978 football season, the artificial turf was removed. Natural grass was re-installed before the 1979 baseball season.

Park history[edit]

When the New York Giants arrived in San Francisco in 1958, they played their home games at the old Seals Stadium at 16th and Bryant Streets. As part of the agreement regarding the Giants' relocation to the west coast, the city of San Francisco promised to build a new stadium for the team. Most of the land at Candlestick Point was purchased from Charles Harney, a local contractor. Harney purchased the land in 1952 for a quarry and industrial development. He made a profit of over $2 million when he sold the land for the stadium. Harney received a no-bid contract to build the stadium. The entire deal was the subject of a Grand Jury investigation in 1958.

Ground was broken in 1958 for the stadium and the Giants selected the name of Candlestick Park, after a name-the-park contest on March 3, 1959 (for the derivation of which, see below). Prior to the choice of the name, its construction site had been shown on maps as the generic Bay View Stadium.[6] It was the first modern baseball stadium, as it was the first to be built entirely of reinforced concrete.[7] Then-Vice President Richard Nixon threw out the first baseball on the opening day of Candlestick Park on April 12, 1960, and the Oakland Raiders played the final three games of the 1960 season[8] and their entire 1961 American Football League season at Candlestick. The stadium was enclosed during the winter of 1970–71 in preparation for the 49ers who were moving from their long time home of Kezar Stadium, with stands built around the outfield. The result was that the wind speed dropped marginally, but often swirled around throughout the stadium, and the view of San Francisco Bay was lost.

Candlestick Park upper deck expansion in progress during 1971 baseball season. Note the artificial turf then in use.

Candlestick played host to two Major League Baseball All-Star Games in its life as home for the Giants. The stadium hosted the first of two games in 1961 and later hosted the 1984 game. The Giants played a total of six postseason series at Candlestick; they played host to the National League Championship Series in 1971, 1987, and 1989, the World Series in 1962 and 1989, and one Division Series in 1997.

The 49ers hosted eight NFC Championship games during their time at Candlestick. The first of these was in January 1982 when Dwight Clark caught a game-winning touchdown pass from Joe Montana to lead the 49ers to their first Super Bowl by defeating the Dallas Cowboys. Clark's play went down as one of the more famous in football history, and was dubbed "The Catch". The last of these came in January 2012, when Lawrence Tynes kicked a field goal in overtime to defeat the 49ers and send the New York Giants to their fifth Super Bowl. The most recent postseason game hosted by the 49ers at Candlestick was the Divisional Playoff matchup between the 49ers and the Green Bay Packers, won by the 49ers by a score of 45-31. The 49ers' record in NFC Championship games at Candlestick was 4-4; they defeated the Cowboys twice, in 1981 and 1994, the Chicago Bears in 1984, and the Los Angeles Rams in 1989. Their losses came against the Cowboys in 1992, the Giants in 1990 and 2012, and the Packers in 1997.

In addition to Clark's famous touchdown catch, two more plays referred to as "The Catch" took place during games at Candlestick. The play dubbed "The Catch II" came in the 1998 Wild Card round, as Steve Young found Terrell Owens for a touchdown with eight seconds left to defeat the two-time defending NFC Champion Packers. The play called "The Catch III" came in the 2011 Divisional Playoffs, when Alex Smith threw a touchdown pass to Vernon Davis with nine seconds remaining to provide the winning margin against the New Orleans Saints.

Candlestick Park was also home to dozens of commercial shoots as well as the location for the climactic scene in both the 1962 thriller Experiment in Terror and the 1974 Richard Rush comedy Freebie and the Bean. In February 2011, scenes for the film Contagion, starring Matt Damon, Kate Winslet and Jude Law, were filmed at the stadium. The Fan was also filmed there in 1996.

On October 17, 1989, the Loma Prieta earthquake (measuring 7.1 on the Richter Scale) struck San Francisco, minutes before Game 3 of the World Series was to begin at Candlestick. No one within the stadium was injured, although minor structural damage was incurred to the stadium. Al Michaels and Tim McCarver, who called the game for ABC, later credited the stadium's design for saving thousands of lives.[7] The World Series between the Giants and their Bay rivals the Oakland A's was subsequently delayed for 10 days, in part to give engineers time to check the stadium's overall structural soundness (and that of the A's nearby home, the Oakland–Alameda County Coliseum now known as O.co Coliseum). During this time, the 49ers moved their game against the New England Patriots on October 22 to Stanford Stadium, where they had defeated the Miami Dolphins 38–16 to win Super Bowl XIX on January 20, 1985.

Candlestick Park hosting California and Fresno State.

In 2000, the Giants moved to the new Pacific Bell Park (now called AT&T Park) in the South Beach neighborhood, leaving the 49ers as the sole professional sports team to use Candlestick. The final baseball game was played on September 30, 1999, against their long time rivals the Los Angeles Dodgers, who won 9–4. In that game, all nine Dodgers starters had at least one base hit, while the stadium's final home run came from Dodgers' right fielder Raúl Mondesí in the 6th inning. The National League rivalry between the Giants and Dodgers, one of the oldest and most hotly contested in the Major Leagues, dated back to when both teams were based in New York. When first the Dodgers, then the Giants, moved to California in 1958, the rivalry continued unabated.

Currently, Candlestick Park is the only NFL stadium that began as a baseball-only facility and underwent extensive reconstruction to accommodate football, as evidenced by the stadium's unusual oblong design that leaves many seats on what was the right-field side of the stadium behind the eastern grandstand of the stadium during football games.

On September 3, 2011, Candlestick Park hosted the first college football game in its history with a neutral site game between the California Golden Bears and Fresno State Bulldogs (Cal was designated the "home" team).[9][10] This game was in San Francisco, because of the massive renovation and seismic retrofit at California's home stadium, California Memorial Stadium. The rest of the Golden Bears' home games in 2011 were played at AT&T Park. Cal would go on to win the game 36–21.[11]

At approximately 5:19 p.m. local time on December 19, 2011, Candlestick Park experienced an unexpected power outage just before a Monday Night Football game between the 49ers and the Pittsburgh Steelers. An aerial shot shown live on ESPN showed a transformer sparking and then the stadium going completely dark. However, about 17 minutes later, the park's lights came back on in time for the game's kickoff. With 12:13 remaining in the second quarter, another power outage created yet another 30-minute delay before play resumed again.

The 49ers played their final game at Candlestick Park on Monday, December 23, 2013 against the Atlanta Falcons, winning 34–24 after an interception that would be called The Pick at the Stick by some sports columnists.[12] This game was the facility's 36th and final game on Monday Night Football,[13] the most at any stadium used by the NFL.[14]

Candlestick Park in September 2008

The Beatles' final concert[edit]

The Beatles gave their final full concert at Candlestick Park on August 29, 1966.[15] Songs performed at the show were "Rock and Roll Music", "She's a Woman", "If I Needed Someone", "Day Tripper", "Baby's in Black", "I Feel Fine", "Yesterday", "I Wanna Be Your Man", "Nowhere Man", "Paperback Writer", and "Long Tall Sally". A rough recording of most of the concert was left unreleased, although the audio has leaked on to the internet. The recording cuts off during the last minute of the concert, interrupting "Long Tall Sally". The Beatles had not announced that this was to be their last concert, and if the foursome themselves knew, it was a closely guarded secret. In fact, much of the existing film footage of the concert was captured in color by a 15-year-old Beatles fan, Barry Hood. A relatively small amount of black-and-white footage was shot by local TV news in the San Francisco Bay Area and Sacramento. Hood released some of his film in a documentary called The Beatles Live In San Francisco [16] A smaller quantity of Hood's film was later released in a documentary called The Unseen Beatles,[17] but more of Hood's footage remains in a vault, unseen by the public.[16] On August 14, 2014, Paul McCartney is scheduled to play the venue nearly 50 years after the Beatles played their final show there.[15]

Reputation[edit]

"I came, I saw, I survived."

As a baseball field, the stadium was infamous for the windy conditions, damp air and dew from fog, and chilly temperatures. The wind often made life difficult for outfielders trying to catch fly balls, as well as for fans, while the damp grass further complicated play for outfielders who had to play in cold, wet shoes. Architect John Bolles designed the park with a boomerang-shaped concrete baffle in the upper tier to protect the park from wind. Unfortunately, it never worked. For Candlestick's first 10 seasons, the wind blew in from left-center and out toward right-center. When the park was expanded to accommodate the 49ers in 1971, it was thought fully enclosing the park would cut down on the wind. Instead, the wind swirled from all directions, and was as strong and cold as before. Giants Hall of Fame center fielder Willie Mays claimed the wind cost him over 100 home runs. However, he had less difficulty fielding balls in the windy conditions. Mays was used to playing in difficult conditions, having patrolled center field at the NY Giants' long-time home, the Polo Grounds, which featured an enormous outfield.

During the first All Star Game of 1961 (one of two played in the park—the other was in 1984), Giants pitcher Stu Miller was blown off balance by a gust of wind and was charged with a balk. Two years later, wind picked up the entire batting cage and dropped it 60 feet (18 m) away on the pitcher’s mound while the New York Mets were taking batting practice.

A Giants game at Candlestick in 1965.

The stadium also had the reputation as the coldest park in the Major League Baseball. It was initially built with a radiant heating system of hot water pipes under the Lower Box seats in a space between the concrete and the ground. However, the pipes were not embedded in the concrete, and did not produce enough heat to offset the cold air. Both the city and the Giants balked at the cost of upgrading the system so it would work properly (e.g. removing the seats and concrete, embedding larger pipes, and replacing the concrete and seats). As a result, the Giants played more day games than any Major League Baseball team except the Chicago Cubs, whose ballpark, Wrigley Field, did not have lights installed until 1988. Many locals, including Giants' broadcaster Lon Simmons, were surprised at the decision to build the park right on the bay, in one of the coldest areas of the city.[7] Attorney Melvin Belli filed a claim against the Giants in 1960 because his six-seat box, which cost him almost $1,600, was unbearably cold. Belli won in court, claiming that the "radiant heating system" advertised was a failure.[18]

The Giants eventually played on the reputation to bolster fan support with promotions such as awarding the Croix de Candlestick pin to fans who stayed for the duration of extra-inning night games. The pins featured the Giants' "SF" monogram capped with snow, along with the Latin slogan "Veni, vidi, vixi" ("I came, I saw, I survived"). Among many less-than-flattering fan nicknames for the park were "North Pole," "Cave of the Winds," "Windlestick," and "The Quagmire." Older fans called it "The Dump" in honor of the former use of the land. Ironically, the Giants played their last game at Candlestick under blue skies with no fog and a game time temperature of 82 degrees, which is not uncommon for September games.

Giants owner Horace Stoneham visited the site as early as 1957 and was involved in the stadium's design from the outset. While he was aware of the weather conditions, he usually visited the park during the day—not knowing about the particularly cold, windy and foggy conditions that overtook it at night. Originally, Bolles' concrete baffle would have extended all the way to left field, which would have further reduced the prevailing winds. However, the size of the structure was reduced for cost savings. In 1962, Stoneham commissioned a study of the wind conditions. The study revealed that had the windy conditions been known prior to construction, conditions would have been significantly improved by building the park 100 yards farther to the north and east.[7][19] However, this would have meant building it on fill, which is less stable during earthquakes. The stadium's location on the bedrock of Bayview Hill provided more stability.

The winds are intense in the immediate area of the park. Studies showed they were no more frequent than other parts of San Francisco but are subject to higher gusts. This is because of a hill immediately adjacent to the park. This hill, in turn, is the first topographical obstacle met by the prevailing winds arriving from the Pacific Ocean seven miles to the west. Arriving at Candlestick from the Pacific, these winds travel through what is known as the Alemany Gap before reaching the hill. The combination of ocean winds free-flowing to Candlestick, then swirling over the adjacent hill created the cold and windy conditions that were the bane of the Giants' 40-year stay on Candlestick Point. It is indeed the wind and not the ambient air temperature that provides Candlestick's famed chill. The Giants' subsequent home, AT&T Park, is just one degree warmer, but is far less windy, creating a "warmer" (relatively speaking) effect. While the wind is a summer condition (hot inland, cool oceanside), winter weather is right in line with the rest of sea level Northern California (mild with occasional rain).

Seating capacity[edit]

Baseball[edit]

  • 43,765 (1960)
  • 42,553 (1961–1964)
  • 42,500 (1965–1970)
  • 59,315 (1971–1988)
  • 62,000 (1989–1992)
  • 58,000 (1993–1999)

Football[edit]

  • 61,185 (1971–1982)
  • 61,413 (1983–1986)
  • 64,252 (1987–1988)
  • 65,701 (1989–1991)
  • 66,513 (1992–1994)
  • 70,207 (1995–1999)
  • 69,733 (2000–2014)

Other design flaws and irregularities[edit]

Candlestick was an object of scorn from baseball purists for reasons other than weather. Although originally built for baseball, foul territory was quite roomy. According to Simmons, nearly every seat was too far from the field even before the 1971 expansion.[7] As with the radiant heating system in the grandstands, the heating systems in the dugouts were wholly inadequate. Players on other National League teams – especially if they'd played for the Giants beforehand – complained that the visitors dugout was colder than the Giants' dugout. This was due to two reasons: First, because the Giants' dugout included a tunnel to the clubhouse, heat from the clubhouse flowed into the dugout. The second reason was due to the placement of the dugouts. The Giants' dugout was located on the first base side which was on the south side of the stadium. The visitors' dugout was located on the third base (west) side of the field.

On December 19, 2011, a transformer blew outside of the stadium before the 49ers' Monday Night Football game against the Pittsburgh Steelers, leading to two power outages. The first power outage, which occurred when the transformer blew at 5:19 pm local time, delayed the game start for 32 minutes. The second power outage occurred at 6:42 pm local time, with 12:13 left to play in the second quarter. This delayed the game for 19 minutes. The cause of the transformer's failure was due to a broken splice, according to PG&E investigators.[20]

Name changes[edit]

Candlestick Park is located about 6 miles south of downtown, pictured here in the 1990s

Some think that Candlestick Point was named for the indigenous "candlestick bird" (Long-billed Curlew), once common to the point.[21] The book "California Geographic Names" lists Candlestick Point as being named for a pinnacle of rock first noted in 1781 by the De Anza Expedition. This pinnacle was also noted by the U.S. Geodetic Survey in 1869. The pinnacle disappeared around 1920.

The rights to the stadium name were licensed to 3Com Corporation from September 1995 until 2002, for $900,000 a year. During that time, the park became known as 3Com Park at Candlestick Point, or, simply, 3Com Park. In 2002, the naming rights deal expired, and the park then became officially known as San Francisco Stadium at Candlestick Point. On September 28, 2004, a new naming rights deal was signed with Monster Cable, a maker of cables for electronic equipment, and the stadium was renamed Monster Park. However, just over a month later, a measure passed in the November 2 election stipulated that the stadium name revert to Candlestick permanently after the contract with Monster expired in 2008.

The City and County of San Francisco had trouble finding a new naming sponsor due in part to the downturn in the economy, but also because the stadium's tenure as 3Com Park was tenuous at best. Many local fans were annoyed with the change and continued referring to the park by its original name, regardless of the official name. The Giants reportedly continued to call the stadium "Candlestick Park" in media guides, because the naming rights were initiated by the 49ers. Some even mocked the 3Com sponsorship. Chris Berman, for instance, usually called it "Commercial-Stick Park." Local fans sometimes called it "Dot-com Park" (see Dot-com bubble). Freeway signs in the vicinity were changed to read "Monster Park" as part of an overall signage upgrade to national standards on California highways, but as of 2008, those signs have been changed back to Candlestick Park.

The name change also ended up being confusing for the intended branding purposes, as without the "Cable" qualifier in the official name, many erroneously thought the stadium was named for the Monster.com employment website or Monster Energy Drink, not the cable vendor.[22]

On August 10, 2007, San Francisco mayor Gavin Newsom announced that the playing field would be renamed Bill Walsh Field in honor of the former Stanford and 49ers coach, who died on July 30 that year, pending the approval of the city government. However, the stadium will retain its current name as is contractually obligated.[23] Commentators still use this name occasionally, most recently when Jerry Rice's jersey was retired.

On September 18, 2009, Sports Illustrated's Peter King used the mock-combination name "Candle3Monsterstick" in reference to the many name changes the stadium has gone through.[24]

Despite numerous official and unofficial name changes over the history of the stadium and surrounding park/facilities, the stadium has been lovingly referred to as "the Stick" by many locals and die-hard fans since its original titling of Candlestick Park in 1960.

Replacement and demolition[edit]

Plans were underway to construct a new 68,000-seat stadium at Candlestick Point.[25] However, on November 8, 2006, the 49ers announced that they would abandon their search for a location in San Francisco and begin to actively pursue the idea of building a stadium in Santa Clara, California. As a result, San Francisco withdrew its bid for the 2016 Olympics on November 13, 2006, as its centerpiece stadium was lost. Groundbreaking for the Santa Clara Stadium occurred on April 19, 2012, and the stadium is currently under construction with a planned completion date in time for the 2014 NFL season. On May 8, 2013, it was announced that the name of the new stadium will be Levi's Stadium.

A grassroots movement for the Giants to play another baseball game at Candlestick has existed since 2009. Many fans had hoped to see another game in 2010 during the 50th Anniversary of the Giants first game at Candlestick Park, but this idea was dropped due to the cost. Many fans wished for another Giants game, but the Giants never returned to their former stadium for a final game.

With the departure of the 49ers, Candlestick Park will be left without any permanent tenants. Demolition of the stadium was expected to occur soon after the 49ers played their final game of the 2013 season, but over time the date of demolition was moved back to late 2014 or early 2015, with several special events planned for the intervening period.[26] In April 2014, it was announced that Paul McCartney would perform a concert as the last scheduled event ever in the 54-year old stadium on August 14, 2014.[15] Interestingly, McCartney's former group, The Beatles, performed their last scheduled concert at Candlestick Park 48 years earlier.

References[edit]

  1. ^ Rosenbaum, Art (August 12, 1958). "Bay City Banner". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved September 16, 2011. 
  2. ^ Consumer Price Index (estimate) 1800–2014. Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis. Retrieved February 27, 2014.
  3. ^ University of Washington Architectural Database
  4. ^ Ballparks.com - Candlestick Park
  5. ^ 2009 San Francisco 49ers Media Guide
  6. ^ "Pot Luck". St. Petersburg Times. March 4, 1959. p. 3-C. 
  7. ^ a b c d e Smith, Curt (2001). Storied Stadiums. New York City: Carroll & Graf. ISBN 0-7867-1187-6. 
  8. ^ "Raiders Face L.A. In 'Must' Game At Candlestick Park," Oakland Tribune, Sunday, December 4, 1960, Page 57. (Accessed March 22, 2012.)
  9. ^ Jeff Tedford Talks Fresno State Ties
  10. ^ Crumpacker, John (August 26, 2011). "Fresno St. Drawing Better Than Cal for Opener". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved August 27, 2011. 
  11. ^ 2011 Cal Bears Football Stats
  12. ^ Instant Replay: 49ers survive, punch playoff ticket in 'Stick finale CSN Bay Area, December 2013
  13. ^ Team Game Finder Query Results - Pro-Football-Reference.com
  14. ^ 49ers vs. Falcons provides final classic Monday Night Football moment at Candlestick Park, SB Nation, December 2013
  15. ^ a b c Philip Matier & Anrew Ross (April 24, 2014). "Paul McCartney to play Candlestick's final show". SFGate.com. Retrieved April 28, 2014. 
  16. ^ a b Beatles Candlestick Park! The Barry Hood Story
  17. ^ Beatles Last Show: Candlestick Park
  18. ^ How Do Astronauts Scratch an Itch? by David Feldman
  19. ^ JEC Wind Engineer
  20. ^ Upton, John (January 13, 2012). "City Patches Candlestick Park Power System, and Waits". The New York Times. Retrieved January 13, 2012. 
  21. ^ Supervisor wants Candlestick to stick
  22. ^ Gardner, Jim (November 28, 2005). "Fans unclear on main Monster in 49ers lineup". Retrieved November 28, 2005. 
  23. ^ 8,000 turn out at Monster Park to say goodbye to Bill Walsh
  24. ^ "Fascinating matchup in San Diego, more to watch this weekend". CNN. September 18, 2009. Retrieved April 28, 2010. 
  25. ^ Official Site of the San Francisco 49ers - PR News
  26. ^ Shafer, Margie (December 18, 2013). "Special Events Planned At Candlestick Park Before Demolition". sanfrancisco.cbslocal.com. Retrieved January 5, 2014. 

External links[edit]

Events and tenants
Preceded by
Kezar Stadium
Home of the San Francisco 49ers
1971–2013
Succeeded by
Levi's Stadium
Preceded by
Seals Stadium
Home of the San Francisco Giants
1960–1999
Succeeded by
AT&T Park
Preceded by
Yankee Stadium
Comiskey Park
Host of the MLB All-Star Game
1961
1984
Succeeded by
Fenway Park
Metrodome
Preceded by
Kezar Stadium
Home of the Oakland Raiders
1961
Succeeded by
Frank Youell Field
Preceded by
Veterans Stadium
RFK Stadium
Soldier Field
RFK Stadium
Texas Stadium
Lambeau Field
Soldier Field
Host of NFC Championship Game
1982
1985
1990–1991
1993
1995
1998
2012
Succeeded by
RFK Stadium
Soldier Field
RFK Stadium
Texas Stadium
Texas Stadium
Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome
Georgia Dome