It's lights out for Candlestick with 49ers’ departure 

click to enlarge Candlestick Park - MIKE KOOZMIN/THE S.F. EXAMINER
  • Mike Koozmin/The S.F. Examiner
  • Candlestick Park

The writing has been on the wall ever since the 49ers began talking about leaving town, but now it is clear: Candlestick Park’s days are numbered.

The company overseeing the redevelopment of the Hunters Point Naval Shipyard indicated Wednesday that without the 49ers, there is not much use for the 52-year-old concrete stadium.

“If and when the 49ers abandon Candlestick, we will initiate discussions with The City to accelerate plans to demolish the stadium,” said Kofi Bonner, Lennar Urban’s president.

The team plans to skip town in 2014 for its new $1.2 billion home in Santa Clara, leaving only two more years for the storied and lovingly maligned Candlestick, where wind, fog and sudden earth movement have created an unorthodox setting for football and baseball.

Although the Giants haven’t played there since 1999, fans say they will still be sad to see it go.

“It’s a place people grew up going to,” said Steven Davila, who was leaving Wednesday’s Giants-A’s game at AT&T Park. “It was windy and cold, but it showed the faithfulness of the fan base.”

The 49ers’ departure also will spell the loss of millions of dollars in revenue for The City’s Recreation and Park Department. The agency has netted an average of $1.5 million per year since 2003, including maintenance costs, and it pulled down $2.83 million from the team’s comeback 2011 season, which included two playoff games at Candlestick.

“As our funding has declined, we have increasingly relied on earning revenue to support our parks and recreational programs,” Rec and Park General Manager Phil Ginsburg said. “This year, we earned over $40 million from properties like Candlestick Park, Coit Tower and the Japanese Tea Garden. If the 49ers leave, it will leave a significant hole to fill.”

Game days also are responsible for an additional $2.4 million annually toward The City’s general fund, according to figures released by the Controller’s Office in 2010. While Mayor Ed Lee’s office is still hoping the team has a change of heart, that doesn’t look likely, with the 49ers announcing Monday that groundbreaking on their new stadium will occur this month.

While the team itself will not be easily replaced, the revenue can be made up in other areas, according to Mayor’s Office spokesman Francis Tsang.

“We’re still going to make sure Rec and Park functions,” Tsang said. “It’s sad that the 49ers are leaving and we won’t have the revenue for some Rec and Park programs with the ticket sales. We’re still optimistic in the long term.”

Bonner said the Candlestick site will be repurposed as 6,000 new homes in the Hunters Point redevelopment project, which calls for 10,000 new residences total in southeast San Francisco.

The stadium is in an area that would be subject to less cleanup work, as it is not part of the Hunters Point shipyard, where years of contamination will have to be managed before any homes are built.

Stadium milestones

1960: Giants begin playing at Candlestick Park after moving from New York in 1958.
1961: Candlestick’s inclement weather becomes nationally known when Giants pitcher Stu Miller appears to be blown by wind off the mound during an All-Star Game.
1966: The Beatles play their last commercial live concert, at Candlestick.
1971: The 49ers move to Candlestick.
1982: In what has since been known simply as “The Catch,” Dwight Clark of the 49ers pulls down a touchdown pass from Joe Montana in the NFC Championship Game to lead the team to its first Super Bowl.
1989: The Loma Prieta earthquake rocks Candlestick during Game 3 of the World Series between the Giants and the Oakland A’s.

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Dan Schreiber

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