SAN FRANCISCO (AP) - Candlestick Park finally got its name back Friday.
After two much-criticized naming rights agreements with corporate sponsors over the past 12 years, the San Francisco 49ers and city officials formally announced their aging stadium will be known as Candlestick Park for the rest of its days.
The 48-year-old stadium was called Monster Park for the last 3 1/2 years, though it seemed only the 49ers and their contractually obligated broadcasters actually used the name. Shortly after the Bay Area maker of electronic cables bought naming rights in 2004 for an estimated $1.5 million annually, San Francisco voters passed a proposition forbidding the city and team from reselling the naming rights when the deal with Monster Cable expired.
When the city and team first changed the venerable stadium's name to 3Com Park in 1996, they were on the vanguard of a lucrative branding movement that permeated sports economics. When voters rejected any future naming rights deals a decade later, they also were at the front of growing fan dissatisfaction with such deals.
``The stadium is more than concrete. It's a history ... that needs to be treasured,'' Supervisor Tom Ammiano said at the time.
Proposition H was a reflection of fans' profound disappointment with changing the historic park's original, euphonic name. The stadium sits on Candlestick Point, a spit of land named for an indigenous bird, on the western shore of the San Francisco Bay.
Candlestick Park opened in 1960 as the home of the San Francisco Giants, with then-Vice President Richard Nixon throwing out the first pitch. The 49ers moved in 1970 to the waterfront park known for its bone-chilling cold and unpredictable winds, and the Giants left in 2000 for their own new park, which had three corporate names in its first seven seasons.
Candlestick Park was the site of The Catch, Joe Montana's historic TD pass to Dwight Clark at the end of the NFC championship game in January 1982, sending the 49ers to their first Super Bowl. The 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake also hit the stadium moments before Game 3 of the World Series between the Giants and the Oakland Athletics, causing a 10-day delay.
Last year, San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom formally named the playing field inside the stadium after Bill Walsh, the 49ers' Hall of Fame coach who died of leukemia in July.
The 49ers will play in Candlestick Park for the near future, though they also would love to leave the aging stadium. The club is pursuing funding to build a new park, preferably near its training complex in suburban Santa Clara, but its dreams are at least several years from fruition.
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