Returning the name "Candlestick Park" to the stadium that housed the San Francisco 49er dynasties of the 1980's, brings back a flood of great football memories for me. As a child, I watched Super Joe direct game winning drives and pick apart NFL defenses with the precision of a surgeon as John Taylor, Jerry Rice, Brent Jones, and Roger Craig executed the west coast offense architected by Bill Walsh. I thoroughly enjoyed those 49er teams as they rose to Super Bowl greatness, so attending a 49ers game at Candlestick Park for the first time was indeed a unique thrill. I was able to get my tickets through TicketCity.com, placing me in one of the more historic NFL venues in the league.
Forty-Niner fans are great tailgaters and the parking lot outside Candlestick Park provides an excellent space for the pregame ritual. The parking lot opens between four and five hours before gametime and by the time we arrived at 8:30 in the morning, it was already abuzz with activity. If you can get to the stadium before 10:00am, the parking lot attendants will let you park wherever you want. However, arriving after ten ensures that the attendants will be placing you in parking spots to help speed up the process of getting everyone into the lot. Parking costs $25.00.
Niner fans cook up all manners of raw meats and seafood as tailgating veterans and even gourmet chefs can be spotted making preparations for the pregame activities. I found the fans to be very approachable as I poked around trying to sneak a peek at what they had cooking. Many offered me a taste and a beer, which were both much appreciated. Bud Light even sponsors their Bud Light Goldmine located inside F plaza and open to all ticket holders. The Bud Light Goldmine opens three hours before kickoff and features a sportsbar type of atmosphere with a live DJ and NFL games on wide screen TV's - definitely worth checking out on your way into the game.
Candlestick Park itself is beginning to show its age. The concourses are tight and the replay screen looks like a flatscreen TV, but it's still a great place to watch a football game. There's not a bad seat in the building and the concessions are really fantastic. Microbrews are on tap, veggie burgers and portabella mushroom sandwiches are available, and Candlestick Park serves up a wide variety of sausages along with some excellent burgers. I had a massive ½ pound Polish sausage with sauerkraut and a sourdough bread bowl of clam chowder. Ben and Jerry's ice cream, a Bay Area staple, is also served at the stadium.
The game itself was tough loss to the Arizona Cardinals as 49ers quarterback JT O'Sullivan had a tough day under center, but after the game, the tailgating party continued as fans settled in while the parking lot cleared. It was another success on the Quest for 31. For more information and a review of my experience, check out www.nflfootballstadiums.com.
- Hans Steiniger for TicketCity.com