Monday, April 23, 2012

The Niners First Home

Kezar Stadium packed back in the day

The main entrance to Kezar today
The other day I was up in the Haight District of San Francisco and walked by old Kezar Stadium in the southeastern part of Golden Gate Park and with the Niners breaking ground on a new stadium I wanted to right about their first home The stadium was built in 1925 and hosted track, cricket and the golden age of Bay Area college football (St.Mary's, Santa Clara, USF all had great teams) as well as college football's East-West Shrine game. Along with all of cities high school teams (the Turkey Bowl is still played there). The Niners started playing there in 1946.

The famous tunnel that both teams would emerge from.

The stadium held just under 60,000 in its heyday. It was famous for its quirks-like the tunnel (left) that most teams would come from. Former Baltimore Colt and NFL Hall of Famer Art Donovan said that players could not breathe in the tunnel. Also, Kezar was known from its seagulls showing up in the fourth quarter and dive bombing the visiting team.

The Niners moved to Candlestick in 1971 after losing the 1970 NFC Championship game to Dallas. It was demolished in 1989 and rebuilt with a seating capacity of 10,000. High school teams still play there and Stanford has hosted its spring football game there the last three years.

Kezar Stadium today
Another view of Kezar today
A guy checking his I-Touch at Kezar
One of the things I like that the city of San Francisco has done is that they have opened up the stadium to people. On any given day there are joggers, walkers, sunbathers out and about at Kezar. The city keeps it open all year around and people use the track and field for workouts. Another great thing is that they named the field for one of San Francisco's greatest football players: NFL Hall of Famer Bob St.Clair (below). St.Clair played his high school ball (Poly High), college ball (USF) and pro ball (San Francisco 49ers) all on the field. I think that is pretty cool.

The plaque honoring Bob St. Clair

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