By Julie Buehler

When a 7.1 earth quake shook San Francisco on Oct. 17th, 1989, baseball fans were waiting for Game 3 of the World Series to begin. Thanks to the impeccable construction and sandy foundation that made the baseball-park-turned-football-stadium famous, no fans were injured and the structure suffered only minor damage.

The damage to Cowboys’ fans was anything but minor when the 49ers hosted their first of eight NFC Championship games at Candlestick and Dwight Clark’s hands connected with the football for the winning touchdown in what is now known as “The Catch.” That play arguably launched an NFL dynasty that would last more than a decade and leave 49ers fans changed forever.

The swirling wind is as famous as the names that played at Candlestick Park, the dilapidated stadium where the San Francisco 49ers built their dynasty, becoming the first team in NFL history to win 5 Super Bowls.


Joe Montana, Jerry Rice, Steve Young, Ronnie Lott, Roger Craig, Dwight Clark, John Taylor, and many more 49er legends gathered on July 12th to say goodbye to the stadium in the final football game to ever be played on the soft grass.

The game was only flag football and the legends showed signs of age as formerly crisply timed passes were intercepted and formerly fleet-of-foot receivers were more than a couple steps slow, but the collection of names, which included Dan Marino, Tim Brown, Drew Bledsoe, Anthony Munoz and more, some of which were victimized by the 49ers in multiple Super Bowls, proved that this stadium was more than an old collection of concrete.

I was in San Francisco for the final game, the “Legends of Candlestick” game where Joe Montana, in typical 49ers fashion, led a last-second comeback. With his team down 1 point, and 22 seconds on the clock, he threw the game-winning touchdown pass to former 49er owner Eddie DeBartolo Jr. in the corner of the end zone and the team raised him to their shoulders in celebration of decades of success.

The weekend was a reminder of all that success and standing on the grass at Candlestick led to a flood of memories and emotions as reality presented a finality to that history: the thing is going to get blown up in less than a year. Demolished. Ruined. Flattened and unceremoniously destroyed.

Sometime after Paul McCartney offers a farewell tour stop on Aug 4th anyway.

Strip away the history, memories and lore and the place is hardly worth keeping. The ceilings are low and dank. The weather is inclement at best and downright stupid at worst. The locker rooms are puny and make any local high school burst with pride in comparison.

But adding those intangibles, the history, the memories and the lore back into the equation means the place is priceless.

And that’s the conundrum with our current sports culture of newer-bigger-better. It neglects to retain the history of yesterday in hopes the glory of tomorrow will sell more tickets and attract more fans. Fact is, that’s absolutely working. The new stadium for the 49ers, Levi Stadium, is already sold out of season tickets and some of those seats fetched upwards of $80,000!

It’s considered the most state-of-the-art facility in the NFL, will host the Super Bowl in 2016 and will be the Taj Mahal for the next generation of 49er fans.

Still, there’s a part that feels wrong about leaving Candlestick behind. There’s a part that feel empty and somewhat tragic that great NFL history, decades of records and memories and stories and moments of greatness are at risk of being left in the rubble of Candlestick’s demolition.

There are few franchises in all of sports that created such lore as the 49ers and even fewer that maintained the same stadium for so many decades.

Sports fans can never go back to the old Yankees Stadium, and I know it was tough for Yankee fans to watch their former home get demolished (I am lucky I got to see games there before that happened) because they’ll never really get to go home again.

I anticipate 49ers fans will be so relieved of the anomalies and difficulties of the dilapidated Candlestick that the luxurious confines of Levi Stadium will instantly supplant the old ballpark in their good graces.

But for a house built on sand to stand long enough to create legends, it’s going to be tough to ever duplicate that kind of success again.

Julie Buehler hosts the Coachella Valley’s most popular sports talk radio show, “Buehler’s Day Off” every day from 3-6 on 1010 KXPS, the valley’s all sports station. She can also be seen every morning between 6-7am on KMIR sharing the coolest stories in sports. She’s an avid gym rat, slightly sarcastic and more likely to recite Steve Young’s career passing stats than American Idol winners. Tune in M-F 3-6 pst at or watch “Buehler’s Day Off” on Ustream and for her sports reports.