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What happened to San Francisco's Candlestick Park?

SF Gate 1/31/2023 Alissa Greenberg, Special to SFGATE

San Franciscans love to reference Mark Twain when they talk about the city's odd weather. The beloved humorist is widely quoted as saying, "The coldest winter I ever spent is a summer in San Francisco." It barely matters that he never actually said that; the quote has long hit home for locals — especially when it came to the late, great Candlestick Park.

A brief history of Candlestick Park

Constructed in 1959, the love-to-hate-it, first-ever-all-concrete baseball stadium was named after either a bird native to the area — or maybe a nearby distinctive rock formation, depending on who you ask. It was built to host the San Francisco Giants when they moved to their new home in California from New York after the 1957 season. They played there until 1999, alongside their NFL compatriots the San Francisco 49ers, who stayed until 2013

But it was a cold half century. Due to both San Francisco's infamous microclimates and the park's location perched on the lip of the San Francisco Bay, Candlestick Park quickly became known as the coldest spot in baseball, featuring whistling winds, drenching fog and plummeting temperatures that left the crowd shivering in both the cool of winter and the height of summer. Even a specially designed radiant heat system made up of pipes embedded into the box seats didn’t warm fans up enough. Thanks to the frigid temperatures, the Giants had to play in the day as much as possible — evenings were far too freezing (the only other team that played more day games is the Chicago Cubs). At one point, spectators who stayed through night games that went into extra innings were even rewarded with special "Croix de Candlestick" pins that read "veni, vidi, vixi"—Latin for "I came, I saw, I survived."

Candlestick Park's claim to fame

Despite the biting chill, "the Stick," as locals affectionally referred to it, still played host to its share of historic moments. When he was vice president, Richard Nixon threw out its first-ever pitch on opening day in 1960. The Beatles famously held their last-ever concert in 1966 at Candlestick Park, a half-hour show played for 25,000 fans that included "Day Tripper," "Yesterday," "Nowhere Man," and "Paperback Writer." Pope John Paul II held mass there in 1987 for over 70,000 attendees. The 49ers hosted eight NFC Championship games there. And baseball fans watched in horror as the monster Loma Prieta earthquake struck the Bay Area on October 17, 1989, just minutes before Game 3 of the World Series was set to begin. (Thankfully, no one was hurt at Candlestick Park, thanks in part to recent seismic retrofitting.)

By the late 1990s, the stadium had begun to show its age. 49ers owner Eddie DeBartolo Jr. dreamed of rebuilding the arena bigger and better, and sought funding from the city of San Francisco to do just that. "We’re going to build the greatest shopping stadium and entertainment facility the world has ever seen," he said at the time. Unfortunately, he was soon caught up in a corruption scandal that helped stall construction for a decade — until finally both the Giants and 49ers ran out of patience and moved elsewhere, scuttling then-San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom's dream of turning the site into an Olympic Arena and village.

So, does Candlestick Park still exist?

(And no, we don’t mean the sports bar of the same name in China Basin.)

Sadly, no. Ironically, the last event held at the Stick was a Paul McCartney concert in August 2014; he even used footage from his previous performance there as a Beatle as a backdrop. The stadium was eventually demolished in September 2015. 

Since then, the site has sat empty, waiting for its next act. Over the years, shifting plans have called for the construction of various shopping centers, office parks and housing developments, many as part of larger projects that aim to bring new life to the surrounding Hunters Point/the Bayview area.

But the COVID-19 era has not been kind to the real estate and retail industries, nor to the conventional office building. FivePoint, the site developer, has faced layoffs and other setbacks. And concerns remain about soil safety at the former Hunters Point shipyard next door, a former Navy site that is heavily-polluted. Clean-up efforts have been roiled in controversy after allegations of fraud by a contractor hired to test samples for radiation. 

One day, perhaps, crowds will return to shop, work or live at Candlestick Point. For now, the area’s hiking trails offer nothing but beautiful views of San Francisco Bay  —  and of course, those trademark cold breezes. 

Editor's note: A previous version of this story cited an incorrect date of when the San Francisco Giants moved to California from New York. The article has been updated to reflect the correct date. 

This story was edited by Hearst National Editor Kristina Moy; you can contact her at

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