Field of extremes

  • ADVANCE FOR WEEKEND EDITIONS, AUG. 31-SEPT 1 - FILE - In this April 1, 1960, file photo, Candlestick Park is seen under construction in this aerial view in San Francisco. It was a baseball venue first, built for the Giants, but became best known for the 49ers and Walsh's dynamic decade. Candlestick begins the end of an era with the 49ers' home opener against Green Bay on Sept. 8. For many, the farewell season will be bittersweet. (AP Photo/File)

Early in the process, it wasn't exactly clear where the Giants would play. Some wanted to enlarge Seals Stadium, the beloved park at 16th and Bryant in the Mission District, home to the Seals and Missions of the Pacific Coast League. Others advocated a new Southof- Market Stadium. But Stoneham demanded at least 43,000 seats and 12,000 parking spaces, goals that would have been hard to meet downtown.

Instead, attention fixed on Candlestick Point, in the southern part of the city, across South Basin from the Hunters Point Shipyard. Stoneham signed a 35-year lease in July 1958, and construction began two months later.

Candlestick Park Through the Years


Not everyone was a booster of the project. The June 1960 edition of The Californian included a cover story titled "The Giants' Ball Park: A $15 Million Swindle." The Californian noted that developer Charles Harney had purchased 41 acres at Candlestick Point from the city for $2,100 an acre in 1953. Four years later, when the stadium deal was green-lighted, he sold the same land back to the city at $68,853 an acre — for a tidy profit of more than $2.7 million — even though the city was paying just $4,000 an acre for adjacent land.

Moreover, Christopher and his allies in City Hall had set up a shadow fund called Stadium, Inc., to help divert money to the ballpark. A grand jury investigated and strongly criticized the deal, but stopped short of alleging outright graft.

None of this seemed to be on anybody's mind on opening day in 1960, when a crowd of 42,269 showed up to watch the Giants host the St. Louis Cardinals at Candlestick. Some arrived by private boat and docked just south of the stadium, braving the mud in their high heels and oxfords. Deluxe seats went for $6.60, the most expensive in Major League Baseball.

comments powered by Disqus
© The Press Democrat |  Terms of Service |  Privacy Policy |  Jobs With Us |  RSS |  Advertising |  Sonoma Media Investments |  Place an Ad
Switch to our Mobile View