When the New York Giants arrived in San Francisco in 1958, they played their home games at the old Seals Stadium at 16th and Bryant Streets. As part of the agreement regarding the Giants' relocation to the west coast, the city of San Francisco promised to build a new stadium for the team. Most of the land at Candlestick Point was purchased from Charles Harney, a local contractor. Harney purchased the land in 1952 for a quarry and industrial development. He made a profit of over $2 million when he sold the land for the stadium. Harney received a no-bid contract to build the stadium. The entire deal was the subject of a Grand Jury investigation in 1958.
Ground was broken in 1958 for the stadium and the Giants selected the name of Candlestick Park, after a name-the-park contest on March 3, 1959 (for the derivation of which, see below). Prior to the choice of the name, its construction site had been shown on maps as the generic Bay View Stadium. It was the first modern baseball stadium, as it was the first to be built entirely of reinforced concrete. Then-Vice President Richard Nixon threw out the ceremonial first pitch on the opening day of Candlestick Park on April 12, 1960, and the Oakland Raiders played the final three games of the 1960 season and their entire 1961 American Football League season at Candlestick. The stadium was enclosed during the winter of 1970–71 in preparation for the 49ers who were moving from their long time home of Kezar Stadium, with stands built around the outfield. The result was that the wind speed dropped marginally, but often swirled around throughout the stadium, and the view of San Francisco Bay was lost.
Candlestick played host to two Major League Baseball All-Star Games in its life as home for the Giants. The stadium hosted the first of two games in 1961 and later hosted the 1984 All-Star Game. The Giants played a total of six postseason series at Candlestick; they played host to the NLCS in 1971, 1987, and 1989, the World Series in 1962 and 1989, and one NLDS in 1997.
The 49ers hosted eight NFC Championship games during their time at Candlestick. The first was in January 1982 when Dwight Clark caught a game-winning touchdown pass from Joe Montana to lead the 49ers to their first Super Bowl by defeating the Dallas Cowboys. Clark's play went down as one of the more famous in football history, and was dubbed "The Catch". The last of these came in January 2012, when Lawrence Tynes kicked a field goal in overtime to defeat the 49ers and send the New York Giants to their fifth Super Bowl. The most recent postseason game hosted by the 49ers at Candlestick was the Divisional Playoff matchup between the 49ers and the Green Bay Packers, won by the 49ers by a score of 45-31. The 49ers' record in NFC Championship games at Candlestick was 4-4; they defeated the Cowboys twice, in 1981 and 1994, the Chicago Bears in 1984, and the Los Angeles Rams in 1989. Their losses came against the Cowboys in 1992, the Giants in 1990 and 2012, and the Packers in 1997.
In addition to Clark's famous touchdown catch, two more plays referred to as "The Catch" took place during games at Candlestick. The play dubbed "The Catch II" came in the 1998 Wild Card round, as Steve Young found Terrell Owens for a touchdown with eight seconds left to defeat the two-time defending NFC Champion Packers. The play called "The Catch III" came in the 2011 Divisional Playoffs, when Alex Smith threw a touchdown pass to Vernon Davis with nine seconds remaining to provide the winning margin against the New Orleans Saints.
Candlestick Park was also home to dozens of commercial shoots as well as the location for the climactic scene in both the 1962 thriller Experiment in Terror and the 1974 Richard Rush comedy Freebie and the Bean. In February 2011, scenes for the film Contagion, starring Matt Damon, Kate Winslet and Jude Law, were filmed at the stadium. The Fan was also filmed there in 1996.
On October 17, 1989, the Loma Prieta earthquake (measuring 7.1 on the Richter Scale) struck San Francisco, minutes before Game 3 of the World Series was to begin at Candlestick. No one within the stadium was injured, although minor structural damage was incurred to the stadium. Al Michaels and Tim McCarver, who called the game for ABC, later credited the stadium's design for saving thousands of lives; an ESPN documentary about the earthquake revealed that the local stadium authority demanded that Candlestick Park undertake a major engineering project to shore up perceived safety red flags in the stadium, and pushed reluctant officials to get this done between the 1988 and 1989 baseball seasons, which prevented a "collapse wave" that would have killed thousands of fans and led to there being very few casualties of any kind in Candlestick after such a massive natural disaster. The World Series between the Giants and their Bay rivals the Oakland A's was subsequently delayed for 10 days, in part to give engineers time to check the stadium's overall structural soundness (and that of the A's nearby home, the Oakland–Alameda County Coliseum). During this time, the 49ers moved their game against the New England Patriots on October 22 to Stanford Stadium, where they had defeated the Miami Dolphins 38–16 to win Super Bowl XIX on January 20, 1985.
The NFL awarded Super Bowl XXXIII to Candlestick Park on November 2, 1994.  Candlestick Park had planned to make major renovations; when that did not happen NFL owners awarded Super Bowl XXXIII to the Miami area during their October 31, 1996 meeting in New Orleans.
In 2000, the Giants moved to the new Pacific Bell Park (now called AT&T Park) in the China Basin neighborhood, leaving the 49ers as the sole professional sports team to use Candlestick. The final baseball game was played on September 30, 1999, against their long time rivals the Los Angeles Dodgers, who won 9–4. In that game, all nine Dodgers starters had at least one base hit, while the stadium's final home run came from Dodgers' right fielder Raúl Mondesí in the 6th inning. The National League rivalry between the Giants and Dodgers, one of the oldest and most hotly contested in the Major Leagues, dated back to when both teams were based in New York City. When first the Dodgers, then the Giants, moved to California in 1958, the rivalry continued unabated.
Candlestick Park was, for its last several years as home to just the 49ers, in other words football-only, the only remaining NFL stadium to have begun as a baseball-only facility which later underwent an extensive redesign to accommodate football. This was evidenced by the stadium's curiously oblong and irregular shape, whereby views from a sizable section of lower-deck seating in the baseball configuration's right-field corner were so badly obstructed by the eastern grandstand of the football seating configuration that they were unusable for football games and would consequently sit empty. Since a football gridiron, including its end zones and benches along the sidelines, is much smaller than a baseball playing field and foul territory, this large grandstand, which provided thousands of prime seats along one whole sideline of the football field, was designed to be retractable. It would slide backwards for baseball games, under the upper deck, and provide a smaller section of baseball seating beyond the outfield wall in right. After the Giants played their 1999 season and moved away from Candlestick, this grandstand was left permanently in its football position, and the unusable seats were eventually removed.
On September 3, 2011, Candlestick Park hosted the first and only college football game in its history with a neutral site game between the California Golden Bears and Fresno State Bulldogs (Cal was designated the "home" team). This game was in San Francisco, because of the massive renovation and seismic retrofit at California's home stadium, California Memorial Stadium. The rest of the Golden Bears' home games in 2011 were played at AT&T Park. Cal won the game 36–21.
At approximately 5:19 p.m. local time on December 19, 2011, Candlestick Park experienced an unexpected power outage just before a Monday Night Football game between the 49ers and the Pittsburgh Steelers. An aerial shot shown live on ESPN showed a transformer sparking and then the stadium going completely dark. About 17 minutes later, however, the park's lights came back on in time for the game's kickoff. With 12:13 remaining in the second quarter, another power outage created yet another 30-minute delay before play resumed again. The 49ers 2011 season ended at the stick with a loss to the New York Giants in the NFC Championship Game.
The 49ers played their final game at Candlestick Park on Monday, December 23, 2013 against the Atlanta Falcons, winning 34–24 after a Navarro Bowman interception that would be called The Pick at the Stick by some sports columnists. This game was the facility's 36th and final game on Monday Night Football, the most at any stadium used by the NFL.
The Beatles gave their final full concert at Candlestick Park on August 29, 1966. Songs performed at the show were "Rock and Roll Music", "She's a Woman", "If I Needed Someone", "Day Tripper", "Baby's in Black", "I Feel Fine", "Yesterday", "I Wanna Be Your Man", "Nowhere Man", "Paperback Writer", and "Long Tall Sally". A rough recording of most of the concert was left unreleased, although the audio has leaked on to the internet. The recording cuts off during the last minute of the concert, interrupting "Long Tall Sally". The Beatles had not announced that this was to be their last concert, and if the foursome themselves knew, it was a closely guarded secret. In fact, much of the existing film footage of the concert was captured in color by a 15-year-old Beatles fan, Barry Hood. A relatively small amount of black-and-white footage was shot by local TV news in the San Francisco Bay Area and Sacramento. Hood released some of his film in a limited edition documentary titled The Beatles Live In San Francisco. But more of Hood's rare footage remains in a vault, unseen by the public, now 50 years later. On August 14, 2014, former Beatle Paul McCartney returned one last time to become the closing act of Candlestick Park's long history. McCartney's performance was within days of being 48 years after the Beatles played their famous last concert at Candlestick. To showcase the event, McCartney contacted Barry Hood and used a portion of his original 1966 Beatles film on a big screen at this last concert.
As a baseball field, the stadium was infamous for the windy conditions, damp air and dew from fog, and chilly temperatures. The wind often made it difficult for outfielders trying to catch fly balls, as well as for fans, while the damp grass further complicated play for outfielders who had to play in cold, wet shoes. Architect John Bolles designed the park with a boomerang-shaped concrete baffle in the upper tier to protect the park from wind. Unfortunately, it never worked. For Candlestick's first 10 seasons, the wind blew in from left-center and out toward right-center. When the park was expanded to accommodate the 49ers in 1971, it was thought fully enclosing the park would cut down on the wind. Instead, the wind swirled from all directions, and was as strong and cold as before. Giants Hall of Fame center fielder Willie Mays claimed the wind cost him over 100 home runs. Nonetheless, he had less difficulty fielding balls in the windy conditions. Mays was used to playing in difficult conditions. He'd begun his career at the Polo Grounds in New York, which featured an enormous outfield.
During the first All Star Game of 1961 (one of two played in the park—the other was in 1984), Giants pitcher Stu Miller was blown off balance by a gust of wind and was charged with a balk. Two years later, wind picked up the entire batting cage and dropped it 60 feet (18 m) away on the pitcher's mound while the New York Mets were taking batting practice.
The stadium also had the reputation as the coldest park in Major League Baseball. It was initially built with a radiant heating system of hot water pipes under the lower box seats in a space between the concrete and the ground. The pipes were not embedded in the concrete, however, and did not produce enough heat to offset the cold air. Both the city and the Giants balked at the cost of upgrading the system so it would work properly (e.g. removing the seats and concrete, embedding larger pipes, and replacing the concrete and seats). As a result, the Giants played more day games than any Major League Baseball team except the Chicago Cubs, whose ballpark, Wrigley Field, did not have lights installed until 1988. Many locals, including Giants' broadcaster Lon Simmons, were surprised at the decision to build the park right on the bay, in one of the coldest areas of the city. Attorney Melvin Belli filed a claim against the Giants in 1960 because his six-seat box, which cost him almost $1,600, was unbearably cold. Belli won in court, claiming that the "radiant heating system" advertised was a failure.
The Giants eventually played on the reputation to bolster fan support with promotions such as awarding the Croix de Candlestick pin to fans who stayed for the duration of extra-inning night games. The pins featured the Giants' "SF" monogram capped with snow, along with the Latin slogan "Veni, vidi, vixi" ("I came, I saw, I survived"). Among many less-than-flattering fan nicknames for the park were "North Pole", "Cave of the Winds", "Windlestick", and "The Quagmire." Older fans called it "The Dump" in honor of the former use of the land. Ironically, the Giants played their last game at Candlestick under blue skies with no fog and a game time temperature of 82°, which was common for September games.
Giants owner Horace Stoneham visited the site as early as 1957 and was involved in the stadium's design from the outset. While he was aware of the weather conditions, he usually visited the park during the day—not knowing about the particularly cold, windy and foggy conditions that overtook it at night. Originally, Bolles' concrete baffle would have extended all the way to left field, which would have further reduced the prevailing winds. Nevertheless, the size of the structure was reduced for cost savings. In 1962, Stoneham commissioned a study of the wind conditions. The study revealed that had the windy conditions been known prior to construction, conditions would have been significantly improved by building the park 100 yards farther to the north and east. This would have meant building it on fill, however, which is less stable during earthquakes. The stadium's location on the bedrock of Bayview Hill provided more stability.
The winds were intense in the immediate area of the park. Studies showed they were no more frequent than other parts of San Francisco but are subject to higher gusts. This is because of a hill immediately adjacent to the park. This hill, in turn, is the first topographical obstacle met by the prevailing winds arriving from the Pacific Ocean seven miles (11 km) to the west. Arriving at Candlestick from the Pacific, these winds travel through what is known as the Alemany Gap before reaching the hill. The combination of ocean winds free-flowing to Candlestick, then swirling over the adjacent hill, created the cold and windy conditions that were the bane of the Giants' 40-year stay on Candlestick Point. It was indeed the wind and not the ambient air temperature that provided Candlestick's famed chill. The Giants' subsequent home, AT&T Park, is just one degree warmer, but is far less windy, creating a "warmer" (relatively speaking) effect. While the wind is a summer condition (hot inland, cool oceanside), winter weather is right in line with the rest of sea level Northern California (mild with occasional rain).
Candlestick was an object of scorn from baseball purists for reasons other than weather. Although originally built for baseball, foul territory was quite roomy. According to Simmons, nearly every seat was too far from the field even before the 1971 expansion. As with the radiant heating system in the grandstands, the heating systems in the dugouts were wholly inadequate. Players on other National League teams – especially if they'd played for the Giants beforehand – complained that the visitors dugout was colder than the Giants' dugout. This was due to two reasons: First, because the Giants' dugout included a tunnel to the clubhouse, heat from the clubhouse flowed into the dugout. The second reason was due to the placement of the dugouts. The Giants' dugout was located on the first base side, which was on the south side of the stadium. The visitors' dugout was located on the third base (west) side of the field.
On December 19, 2011, a transformer blew outside of the stadium before the 49ers' Monday Night Football game against the Pittsburgh Steelers, leading to two power outages. The first power outage, which occurred when the transformer blew at 5:19 pm local time, delayed the game start for 32 minutes. The second power outage occurred at 6:42 pm local time, with 12:13 left to play in the second quarter. This delayed the game for 19 minutes. The cause of the transformer's failure was due to a broken splice, according to PG&E investigators.43,765 (1960)42,553 (1961–1964)42,500 (1965–1970)59,315 (1971–1988)62,000 (1989–1992)58,000 (1993–1999)61,185 (1971–1982)61,413 (1983–1986)64,252 (1987–1988)65,701 (1989–1991)66,513 (1992–1994)70,207 (1995–1999)69,732 (2000–2014)
Some think that Candlestick Point was named for the indigenous "candlestick bird" (long-billed curlew), once common to the point. The book "California Geographic Names" lists Candlestick Point as being named for a pinnacle of rock first noted in 1781 by the De Anza Expedition. This pinnacle was also noted by the U.S. Geodetic Survey in 1869. The pinnacle disappeared around 1920.
The rights to the stadium name were licensed to 3Com Corporation from September 1995 until 2002, for $900,000 a year. During that time, the park became known as "3Com Park at Candlestick Point", or, simply, "3Com Park". In 2002, the naming rights deal expired, and the park then became officially known as "San Francisco Stadium at Candlestick Point". On September 28, 2004, a new naming rights deal was signed with Monster Cable, a maker of cables for electronic equipment, and the stadium was renamed "Monster Park". Just over a month later, however, a measure passed in the November 2 election stipulated that the stadium name revert to "Candlestick" permanently after the contract with Monster expired in 2008.
The City and County of San Francisco had trouble finding a new naming sponsor due in part to the downturn in the economy, but also because the stadium's tenure as 3Com Park was tenuous at best. Many local fans were annoyed with the change and continued referring to the park by its original name, regardless of the official name. The Giants reportedly continued to call the stadium "Candlestick Park" in media guides, because the naming rights were initiated by the 49ers. Some even mocked the 3Com sponsorship. Chris Berman, for instance, usually called it "Commercial-Stick Park." Local fans sometimes called it "Dot-com Park" (see Dot-com bubble). Freeway signs in the vicinity were changed to read "Monster Park" as part of an overall signage upgrade to national standards on California highways, but in 2008 those signs were changed back to "Candlestick Park".
The name change also ended up being confusing for the intended branding purposes, as without the "Cable" qualifier in the official name, many erroneously thought the stadium was named for the Monster.com employment website or Monster Energy Drink, not the cable vendor.
On August 10, 2007, San Francisco mayor Gavin Newsom announced that the playing field would be renamed "Bill Walsh Field" in honor of the former Stanford and 49ers coach, who died on July 30 that year, pending the approval of the city government. The stadium itself retained its name as was contractually obligated. Commentators still use this name occasionally, most recently when Jerry Rice's jersey was retired.
On September 18, 2009, Sports Illustrated's Peter King used the mock-combination name "Candle3Monsterstick" in reference to the many name changes the stadium has gone through.
Despite numerous official and unofficial name changes over the history of the stadium and surrounding park/facilities, the stadium is lovingly referred to as "the Stick" by many locals and die-hard fans since its original titling of "Candlestick Park" in 1960.
Plans were underway to construct a new 68,000-seat stadium at Candlestick Point. On November 8, 2006, however, the 49ers announced that they would abandon their search for a location in San Francisco and begin to actively pursue the idea of building a stadium in Santa Clara, California. As a result, San Francisco withdrew its bid for the 2016 Olympics on November 13, 2006, as its centerpiece stadium was lost. Groundbreaking for the Santa Clara stadium occurred on April 19, 2012. On May 8, 2013, it was announced that the name of the new stadium would be Levi's Stadium. The stadium opened on July 17, 2014, in time for the 2014 NFL season. The 49ers christened their new home a month after it opened.
A grassroots movement for the Giants to play another baseball game at Candlestick had existed since 2009. Many fans had hoped to see another game in 2010, the 50th anniversary of the Giants' first season at Candlestick Park, but this idea was dropped due to the cost. Although many fans wished for another Giants game at the Stick, the Giants never returned to their former stadium for a final game.
With the departure of the 49ers, Candlestick Park was left without any permanent tenants. Demolition of the stadium was expected to occur soon after the 49ers played their final game of the 2013 season, but over time the date of demolition was moved back to late 2014, with several special events planned for the intervening period. In April 2014, it was announced that Paul McCartney would perform a concert as the last scheduled event ever in the 54-year-old stadium on August 14, 2014. The Beatles had performed their last scheduled concert at Candlestick Park 48 years earlier.
Demolition began in November 2014 as workers tore out seats. In January 2015, the developer withdrew a request to implode the stadium, possibly to be broadcast as part of the Super Bowl halftime entertainment. Instead, mechanized structural demolition commenced, which was favored over implosion due to local dust pollution concerns. Demolition was expected to be complete by March 2015, but was not completed until September 24, 2015.
In 2014, 1,000 historic Candlestick Park Stadium seats were installed at Kezar Stadium for the public to enjoy. The renovation was funded by the City’s Capital Planning General Fund. Mayor Edwin M. Lee helped re-open the stadium with a warm-up run.
In December 2016, 4,000 additional historic Candlestick seats were acquired and installed at Kezar. The seats were paid for by the San Francisco Deltas as a part of a $1-million improvement the team agreed upon to make use of the stadium.
Lennar Corporation and Macerich plan to build a dense "urban outlet" center incorporating retail and housing with underground parking on the Candlestick Park site. The new development is expected to be completed in 2017.