SAN FRANCISCO — Candlestick Park shone like an old, polished jewel Monday night for the San Francisco 49ers’ final scheduled game in the quirky but famous stadium.
Virtually the entire capacity crowd was attired in 49er red to say farewell to the worn-out venue that hatched five Super Bowl champion teams, two San Francisco Giants pennants, the final scheduled public appearance by the Beatles and more excitement than anyone could have expected on the day it opened in 1960.
Before the game, former 49er greats Steve Young and Jerry Rice posed for photographers and even hooked up for one more ceremonial touchdown pass. Former owner Eddie DeBartolo Jr. and many other 49er golden oldies also were there for Candlestick’s final hurrah. The 49ers will move next season to Levi’s Stadium, the 80 percent-completed stadium next door to the team headquarters in Santa Clara.
“It’s a very, very bittersweet game,” 49ers President Jed York said, and he was right. No one will forget Candlestick, especially the fans who have braved the cold and the fog for all these decades. One van, crawling through slow traffic before the game, had its back window decorated with “Respect the Stick.” The park, originally built only for baseball, became a multipurpose palace of thrills, even as it crumbled in old age.
Feelings are mixed about Candlestick’s end, but the stadium got a thrilling send-off as the 49ers beat the Atlanta Falcons to clinch a playoff berth.