Nobody will say it, so I will. Candlestick Park is a dump.
— Pete Prisco (@PriscoCBS) December 17, 2013
A courageous stance.
Keith Olbermann doesn’t understand the “nostalgia, recollection and warmth” felt by fans who are either celebrating Candlestick Park’s existence or mourning it’s eventual demise. If a building can be demolished by snark, the 49ers would’ve had to find another place to play Monday night’s game against Atlanta.
It’s true, the place is a dump. Like most multipurpose stadiums, it didn’t suit either sport it hosted all that well. With a location better served for windsurfing than baseball or football, the microclimate at Candlestick Point makes even the most hardened East Coaster realize that one doesn’t need snow, sleet or hail to know what real cold feels like.
Not all of my memories of the place are grand.
I got my car broken into back in 2001 when my friend and I decided to save money on parking and stash my vehicle about a mile away. Luckily, all the thief made off with were an old pair of sunglasses and my buddy’s duffle bag that was full of nothing except the boxers and socks he wore the day before.
I was once escorted out by security after chasing a home run ball hit by Jeff Kent to win in the 12th. One of the rent-a-cops yelled at me to get out from under the family pavilion in right field. I ignored his requests, and I was kicked out of a game for the first and only time in my life. Luckily, the game was already over and a much nicer security employee who was tasked with walking me out said to just be cool and behave, because his overzealous coworker needed to feel like he was doing his job.
My first 49ers game was the 40-8 loss to the Eagles in 1994, the game where Steve Young was pulled in the third quarter and cursed out George Seifert on the sideline. Luckily, the 49ers went on to win 13 of their next 14 games, including the Super Bowl.
After finally getting to my vehicle in one of the remote dirt lots after the Monday night win last year against Chicago (Colin Kaepernick’s first start), I realized after driving back and forth for several minutes that every single exit was locked. It was after midnight, and shady characters were walking in small groups across the lot doing who knows what. I considered leaving my car and walking until I found a cab (but where?), only I knew that doing so meant putting myself in very real danger. Luckily, about an hour later a stadium employee drove his truck over to one of the gates and let me out.
And I’ve told that story about 50 times since. I’ve probably written about it two or three times on this site, so my apologies if you’ve heard that one or any of the others before.
It makes it easier to have those warm, nostalgic recollections when so many great games and championships were won while the 49ers called the place home. The Giants had some great times too, just not nearly as many. But even if the place was marked by despair and failure for those teams, the quantity of memories made would almost make up for the lack of quality. Luckily, there were plenty of high quality moments to go along with the soggy field, outdated locker rooms, crowded concourses, traffic jams, bathroom lines (and troughs), cold, and wind.
This is our last Amici’s East Coast Pizzeria contest of 2013. For a chance to win a free large pizza (and I’ll throw in an autographed photo of Tramaine Brock), just write a memory of Candlestick Park. Any old memory.
It could be a great memory, like watching the Vernon post or “THE Catch” in person. It could be a total stinker, like some drunk dude throwing up all over your shoes. All memories are in play, because we all went to Candlestick Park not for the guarantee that we’d have a perfect time and everything would go smoothly from arrival to departure. We went to The Stick because every time we did so, there was a chance that something amazing could happen. And, more often than any of us had a right to expect, the place delivered.