|Photo Credit: NFL.Com|
If you uttered the words "that eye sore by Hunters Point," most San Franciscans would know what you were talking about. It's the concrete fortress that sits lonesome to your right as you coast down 101 North. When the tide rises, the parking lots flood until you need galoshes just to make it to the turnstiles. The structure is built just right to turn swirling winds into near tornadoes. The only part of it more unsanitary than its breezeways are its bathrooms.
I am, of course, referring to Candlestick Park.
After 52 long years hosting games at Candlestick, it appears that the 49ers are next in line to get a shiny new stadium. On Wednesday the NFL approved a 200 million dollar loan for the 49ers to start breaking ground on a new stadium in Santa Clara.
The projected date to start playing games is 2015, although Jed York believes it can get done as early as 2014. Following in the footsteps of teams like the Jets, Giants and Cowboys, the 49ers will abandon their good old stomping grounds for greener pastures. The Stick will get torn down and replaced by some low income housing, or hotels, or... Whatever.
But, wait! Before you haul the rubble away, save me a piece of that concrete. It doesn't have to be big or pretty or perfectly shaped. Just save a chunk of memorabilia for me to take home. When I finally get an office, I'll put it on my desk so that when writer's block strikes, I'll have something to gaze at.
That piece of The Stick will be a reminder.
A reminder of windy nights. I'd take a ferry to meet my dad, who'd drive me out to a ball game. I'd shiver underneath his windbreaker while we watched Barry Bonds launch balls over the fence.
A reminder of cool autumn Sundays sitting in the parking lot, the scent of sausages and cigar smoke floating past my nostrils. I'd eat hamburgers while my dad talked 49ers football with his buddies, sipping Jack Daniels from his flask.
It would be a reminder of those late afternoons sitting up in UR 37, staring down at the field through binoculars. I would try to figure out what the hell those little ants were doing down there, running around on the green grass and dragging each other down.
It would be a reminder of the magical feeling I had when Terrell Owens caught "The Catch Two." The atmosphere we felt stuck in traffic trying to get out that evening - hanging out the window, screaming bloody murder while Joe Starky's call was played on repeat in the background. "OWENS! OWENS! OWENS!"
And a more recent reminder of a return to prominence. 9 long years of pain and failure - a season unexpected, an unlikely hero. A play so eerily similar to the one in 1998 that the thought of it evokes goosebumps.
That piece of concrete will be a reminder of why I fell in love with sports. Candlestick may be an eye sore, but it’s my eye sore, and it’s where my love affair with the game began. Sports are a beautiful distraction, but there's something so poetic about them that any number of parallels to life can be drawn. I want that piece of concrete so I'll never forget where my passion for sports all began - at Candlestick Park.