November 10, 2006
The San Francisco 49ers announced their intention to leave the city and build a new stadium in Santa Clara, in the heart of Silicon Valley about 30 miles south of Candlestick Park. The franchise owner, John York, said he told Mayor Gavin Newsome that he is giving up on plans to remain in the city. Only four months ago, York had declared he was committed to building a new stadium / entertainment complex on Candlestick Point, but now he says the necessary infrastructure improvements in that area would cost more than the stadium itself. They hope to finish the new stadium by 2012. See Washington Post. Replacing The Stick is certainly long overdue, especially since it was damaged in the 1989 earthquake. Only two NFL Stadiums are older: Green Bay's Lambeau Field (1958) and Chicago's Soldier Field (1924, but totally rebuilt in ). I hope fans who live in San Francisco don't mind the extra money for gasoline they'll have to spend. I suppose most of them have deep enough pockets so that it's not even a consideration.
UPDATE: It is worth mentioning that Candlestick is one of the few dual-use stadiums in which pro football continued to be played after the baseball team left. The others were Memorial Coliseum (1962-1979, 1982-1994); Cleveland Municipal Stadium (1994-1995); Memorial Stadium (1996-1997); Mile High Stadium (1995-2000); and QualComm (Jack Murphy) Stadium (2004- ). See the Football use of baseball stadiums page.
It's ironic that this news coincides with reports that the Oakland A's are on the verge of moving south to Fremont, on the other side of San Jose from Santa Clara. The official announcement is expected on Tuesday. There is more on that story at MLB.com. Having relocated twice already (in 1955 and 1968), the A's will have a hard time facing yet another identity crisis -- much like the "LAnaheim" Angels. The (probable) future ballpark will be close enough to San Jose to make that city the logical choice of affiliation.
Bruce Orser called my attention to a Web page for Ray Winder Field, built in 1932 in Little Rock, Arkansas. That page includes a list of minor league ballparks even older than that.