13 January 2009

M&R: 49ers may stay in the 'Stick

Matier and Ross report that the Niners, should their efforts to get a stadium in Santa Clara falter or slip, are prepared to re-up at the 'Stick for 5, 10, or even 15 years.

Candlestick Park still works reasonably well as a barebones football stadium. No seats are insanely high. Other that a few obstructed view seats, it's a decent place to watch a game and can generate some serious noise. With the Giants gone, the 49ers don't have to worry about linemen struggling through muck caused by the baseball infield (drought helps too).

Despite those positives, the 'Stick is the oldest pro stadium in the Bay Area and it shows. Escalators are frequently in a state of disrepair. The team facilities have been mediocre since the 80's. Concourses are cramped. Breezes whip through there as if the stadium were located on Tierra del Fuego. There are no club seats. The luxury suites are a bit dated. And it's a real pain to get from the press box down to the field or locker rooms.

The plan, then, is to do a major remodel:

Already, the team is working up designs for a new club area with premium seating that could be introduced the season after next.

But there may be more to it than that. Lang confirmed that the Niners are looking at the possibility of a major remodel of the 'Stick - an option they had previously rejected as far too costly.

"We are running the numbers again because things have changed," Lang said. It seems that with the economic downturn, rehabbing the stadium might not be as expensive as once thought.

In December, new team President Jed York met with Supervisors Bevan Dufty and Sophie Maxwell and hinted that - depending on the outcome of their efforts in Santa Clara - he might come back to the city in three to six months to talk about a Candlestick rehab.

Dufty said he was under the impression they weren't talking about the kind of massive makeover that Chicago's Soldier Field got, "but something that might be north of $100 million."

In other words, the kind of fix-up that could keep the stadium operating for an extra 15 years - long enough to pay for itself and carry the Niners through their last lease extension option.

We've seen this kind of remodel before. It's called Mt. Davis. To be fair, Mt. Davis was the construction of a completely separate, three-deck grandstand with nearly 100 suites. A 'Stick revamp need not be so extensive. It would pretty simple to remove the pullout stands on the east side and the old rightfield line sections that are no longer in use. In their place could be an extensive club seating tier (or two) plus a lounge/restaurant/atrium area.

If the Niners and SF do it right, they could correct one of the weird quirks of the old girl. The odd oval shape of the seating bowl created a situation in which no seat is lined up parallel to either sideline or end line, and few seats are properly angled at the center of the field. In the remodel, the field could be properly lined up parallel to the western side of the bowl. Then the club seats could also be built in the same parallel manner.

The problem? Who's going to pay for it?


Anonymous said...

"Lipstick on a pig" if you ask me...very expensive lipstick at that.