Perhaps it’s unfair to rip Candlestick as an abysmal venue for baseball, especially as the Giants haven’t played there in more than a decade and are now housed in their far cozier home in downtown San Francisco. And yet — all these years later, it’s still difficult for anyone who ever spent, say, an August afternoon at the ‘Stick to recall the place as anything more (or less) than a 60,000 seat tribulation. Beyond the acreage of foul territory that made all but the very best box seats feel like afterthoughts, there was, of course, the notoriously changeable summer weather: a warm, sunny Saturday could, in an instant, turn arctic, with wind, fog and the stadium’s own inscrutable design flaws giving rise to vexing mini-ecosystems throughout the complex. That Matt Williams was never swept away in a cyclone of ice cream wrappers, infield dust and stale beer foam while guarding the third base line is nothing short of miraculous.
As for football, well, most gridiron fans (with the obvious exception of Cheeseheads) will admit that it doesn’t really matter where their squad plays, as long as the team’s logo is clearly painted at midfield and the sight lines don’t block the action or the cheerleaders. That said, despite its storied history (The Catch in 1982; the mind-boggling Garcia-led comeback over the hated Giants in January ’03), Candlestick, as a structure, is about as inspiring as a shoebox. Even calling it utilitarian is an insult to utility. Let 49ers fans keep their memories — all four decades of them — and build a stadium for the 21st century.