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Joe Montana bids farewell to Candlestick Park

  • Joe Montana, seen walking off the field at Candlestick Park after a game against New Orleans in 1987, led the 49ers to four Super Bowl wins. (Tom Riggs / AP file)

Candlestick Park, set to play host to its final regular-season NFL game on Monday, will be closed after this football season and eventually razed to make way for new development. Next year, the 49ers will play in a glittering, $1.3 billion stadium in Santa Clara. None of that will erase what quarterback Joe Montana and the 49ers did at Candlestick. They soared to the top of the NFL and made the windy, waterfront stadium the home of a dynasty. In an essay written exclusively for The Press Democrat, Montana, a former Sonoma County resident, shares his thoughts on Candlestick.

I remember the first time I saw Candlestick Park. It really didn't make any kind of a big impression on me. We had played in big stadiums in college — at Michigan, in the Orange Bowl — so the big stadium wasn't anything special. It was just a place to play and I was just happy to have a stadium to play in.

A lot of things happen in this game, so I was happy to be there.

Candlestick Park Through the Years

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It turned out that the field itself was nothing to get excited about. It was one of the worst field surfaces in the NFL. We shared the place with the Giants when I played, and by the end of summer the bare, infield dirt was so dry that the wind would stir up dust storms when we were playing. You could see what looked like mini-tornadoes of dust blowing around on the field.

One year, the Giants, or somebody, got the idea to replace that dirt with crushed brick. They thought the crushed brick would be heavier and wouldn't blow around as much. But it blew, too, and then it was like getting hit with tiny pieces of flying cement.

And that was just when it was the dry season. Once the weather turned and it would start to rain, the ground was always wet. It seemed like if it got rained on once, the place was wet for two years.

Of course, they built the field surface below the water table, so naturally it was going to stay wet.

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