As of this writing we don’t know if there will ever be another game at “The Stick”. An emotional victory last night let the emotions pour out.
I tried not to be bitter watch Jed York try to convince the fans that we were just “moving down the road to a castle” by symbolically lifting some turf that will be put in the new stadium or taking the last game ball and passing the torch. You didn’t capture it on TV, but the chorus of boos from the fans was heard. #16 won’t be throwing TDs at Levi’s Stadium, the Beatles won’t be performing their last concert there, The “Say Hey” kid won’t be knocking em out of the park there, the greatest WR that ever played won’t be doing the cabbage patch there, and most importantly many of the longtime Faithful won’t be there. Finally, my memories of my father won’t be there.
The 49er fans have always been called the Faithful. Partly because it sat through decades without a championship and also because it dealt with a stadium was a bit of a Frankenstein (built in a windy part of town with an open end for baseball and then closed when the 49ers were brought to stadium). The Stick never pretended to be more than she was and she gave us all that she had, even cracking but not breaking during the 1989 earthquake.
Alas, the people who love state of the art over nostalgia could not hold out and the 49ers will be moving south some 35 miles. Contrary to what the team might have people believe, the passion that is football will not move with them. Yes, some will follow, but true passion comes from many years.
I had a great night sitting next to Brent Jones, the famous TE from 4 Super Bowls as well as the generations of families. These tickets have been in my family and those around us for almost 50 years. This was my Sunday family. When the 49ers were home I would spend my Sundays sitting here with my dad, hearing my first cuss words from the old military guy next to me, getting my first taste of bourbon from the old ladies behind me, and learning about the birds and the bees from the law enforcement people who sat on the other side of us. These were family and memories created. The 49ers asked us for $40K-$80K per seat to move south with them. They even asked us for almost $1K to have the faded seat complete with gum and seagull poop. The same seats that made me think of my dad; imagine having to pay $1K just to keep memories that belong to you. Whenever I showed up on Sundays, I’d feel my dad’s presence next to me. Only one person in our section renewed.
So when the 49ers eventually go through consecutive bad seasons in the new stadium and fans don’t show up, remember the Faithful. They showed up for 2-14 seasons. They watched Jim Druckenmiller, they watched an old OJ, they watched Mike Singletary fall apart, they sat in darkness through blackouts and they still came out in those frigid temperatures which were much overblown. For the most part, those fans at Levi’s will resemble more the disinterested emotionless wine-sippers opponents always complained about, but remember they aren’t the true Faithful. Those people will be at home watching on TV.
Candlestick was old, she was not that attractive, she was not user friendly, she was not tech savvy, but she was ours and that is all we wanted.
She gave us 5 Super Bowl Champions, she gave us the Bay Bridge World Series, she gave us the Croix de Candlestick, and she enriched our lives.
Her detractors might slam her, but her fans really will miss her and the memories she created. Thank you old girl, your magic was beautiful tonight. In case you wonder if you were loved, you were truly respected. Respect is more important than being loved. Hopefully we will get one last chance to fill her aisles in the post-season.
Note: I’m a loyalist. I always believe you dance with the girl that brought you to the dance. I wrote this entry to justify my belief that the 49ers are making a mistake chasing corporate dollars at the expense of long-term community building. Did the 49ers need a new stadium? Yes. but I think relocating so far away from their base shows a lack of knowledge and accurate forecasting. When the 49ers do suffer a downturn and I look back on this entry when the 49ers attendance dwindles, I will be watching closely. Mostly I want to look the 25 year old 49er AE from Oklahoma who told me I was not a true 49er Faithful for not spending $160K to follow the team to the new stadium.