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Kezar Stadium
Location755 Stanyan Street, San Francisco, California 94117
Broke ground1924
OpenedMay 2, 1925
OwnerThe City and County of San Francisco
OperatorSan Francisco Recreation and Park Department
SurfaceGrass
Construction costUS$300,000 (original structure)
($3.76 million in 2019 dollars[1])
ArchitectWillis Polk
Capacity59,942 (1925-1989)
9,044 (1990-present)
Tenants
San Francisco 49ers (NFL / AAFC) (1946-1970)
Oakland Raiders (AFL) (1960)
San Francisco Dragons (MLL) (2006-2007)
California Victory (USL-1) (2007)
San Francisco Freedom (PC) (2004)

Kezar Stadium is a stadium located adjacent to Kezar Pavilion in the southeastern corner of Golden Gate Park in San Francisco, California. It is the former home of the Oakland Raiders and the San Francisco 49ers of the NFL, and of the San Francisco Dragons of MLL. It also served as the home of the California Victory of the USL First Division before the club folded. It also hosts amateur and recreation sports leagues, as well as numerous San Francisco high school football games (including the City Championship, known popularly as the "Turkey Bowl").

HistoryEdit

In 1922, the San Francisco Park Commission accepted a $100,000 gift from the estate of Mary Kezar. The gift was intended to build a memorial in honor of Kezar's mother and uncles who were pioneers in the area. After the City and County of San Francisco appropriated an additional $200,000 the stadium was built in a year. Dedication ceremonies were held on May 2, 1925, and featured a two-mile footrace between Ville Ritola and Paavo Nurmi of Finland, who were two of the greatest runners of their day.

1930sEdit

The stadium had many uses in the 1930s. In addition to track and field competitions, Kezar Stadium also hosted motorcycle racing, auto racing, rugby, lacrosse, soccer, baseball, boxing, cricket and football. In September 1932 the Australian Cricket Team played a North California All star team in the Australians 56 game tour of the the US and Canada. Sir Donald Bradman, statistically the world's highest scorer in any sport with a 99 batting average, scored 66 runs in his Kezar Stadium innings.(Source:David Sentance, Cricket in America 1710-2000 McFarland Pub 2006). The stadium was also the home field of several local schools such as Santa Clara University, University of San Francisco, St. Mary's College of California and the now defunct San Francisco Polytechnic High School. In 1926 the Stadium also became the home of the East-West Shrine Game.

American footballEdit

View over Kezar stadium from Mt. Olympus in San Francisco

Kezar Stadium as seen from Mt. Olympus.

In the 1928 city championship game between San Francisco Polytechnic and Lowell High School a crowd of over 50,000 people saw the matchup between the bitter cross-town rivals. That game still holds attendance records for a high school football game in Northern California.

Stanford University played four of its home football games at Kezar, one in 1928 and three in 1942. In 1940, Kezar Stadium hosted the first-ever major college football double header, which featured StanfordSan Francisco and Santa ClaraUtah.[2]

Kezar Stadium was also the home to two different professional football teams. The San Francisco 49ers and the Oakland Raiders both began their existence at the stadium. The Raiders played at Kezar during their first season and at Candlestick Park during their second season, before Frank Youell Field was built as a temporary facility in Oakland. The 49ers moved to a more modern and accessible stadium at Candlestick Park in 1971 after losing the 1970 NFC Championship Game to the Dallas Cowboys, 17-10, on January 3, 1971, in their final game at Kezar. Kezar Stadium was also the home field for the San Francisco Stingrayz womans Professional Football team from 2003-2005 when the Stingrayz had to end their season short due to a bus accident which they lost a number of players due to injuries. The Stingrayz was one of the first womans tackle football teams in the Bay Area in the Independent Womans Football League.

Kezar 1971

Kezar Stadium, as shown in the film Dirty Harry.

1970sEdit

Dirty HarryEdit

Several scenes from the film Dirty Harry were filmed there later in 1971. The film's fictional antagonist, the Scorpio Killer (played by Andrew Robinson), works as the caretaker at the stadium.

ConcertsEdit

With the loss of professional football in the 1970s the stadium became an outdoor concert venue with many well known acts of its time performing there. Its proximity to the Haight-Ashbury District probably helped with the stadium's transformation to a concert venue. Noted musicians who performed at Kezar included Led Zeppelin, The Doobie Brothers, Jefferson Starship, Tower of Power, Joan Baez, The Grateful Dead, The New Riders of the Purple Sage, Carlos Santana, The Crunchees, Waylon Jennings, and Neil Young.

Demolition and reconstructionEdit

Beginning in June 1989, Kezar Stadium was demolished and rebuilt with a much smaller seating capacity of 10,000. The upgrades included an eight-lane, all-weather track and a large grass athletic field suitable for soccer, football and lacrosse.[3]

Renovated Kezar Stadium

Kezar Stadium after its 1989 demolition and reconstruction.

The field and track configurations remained the same. A replica of the original concrete arch bearing the name "Kezar Stadium" was built on the west side of the stadium as a tribute to the original structure. A plaque of NFL Hall of Famer Bob St. Clair, who played a record 189 career games at Kezar Stadium, is built into the replica arch.

Kezar Stadium Replica Entrance

The arch replicating the one that was part of the original Kezar Stadium.

Bob St. Clair's Kezar Stadium Plaque

The plaque of NFL Hall of Famer Bob St. Clair outside reconstructed Kezar Stadium.

Soccer and other sportsEdit

With the 2006 West Coast expansion of Major League Lacrosse, Kezar Stadium once again became a home to a professional team, the San Francisco Dragons. In October 2006, United Soccer Leagues (USL) and Spanish Football club Deportivo Alaves announced that the new pro soccer team, named California Victory, played their 2007 home games at Kezar. The Victory played in the USL's First Division, one level below Major League Soccer. However, Alaves later withdrew their support and the team folded.

In 2004 it served as the home of the San Francisco Freedom, the city's Pro Cricket team.

Sacred Heart Cathedral Preparatory, a nearby Catholic high school uses the field for their home football games. Mission High School also uses the field for home games and the annual Battle of the Birds game between Washington High School and Lowell High School is also played at Kezar every year. Kezar has also been the host of several Northern California Semi-pro football championship games.

In 2010 and 2011, Stanford University held its spring football game at Kezar. For the 2012 and 2016 San Francisco Olympic bids, Kezar was designated to host field hockey had San Francisco been chosen in either year.

Women's soccerEdit

In recent years, the stadium has also served as home to Premier Division teams of Golden Gate Women's Soccer League (GGWSL).

College lacrosseEdit

Kezar is also the home to the annual San Francisco Fall Lacrosse Classic, an NCAA Division I fall ball game started in 2009 to benefit the Bay Area Youth Sports Foundation. The first event was between Brown and North Carolina. It was the first Division I men's lacrosse played in Northern California. North Carolina beat Brown 13-5 in front of a crowd of more than 4500. Special certificates marking the occasion were presented to each team on behalf of the Mayor, SF Board of Supervisors, and the City and County by Director of San Francisco Recreation and Parks Department Phil Ginsburg. The 2010 event featured storied lacrosse powerhouse Johns Hopkins and Notre Dame on Saturday, October 16, 2010. Notre Dame beat Hopkins 10-7. The third installment will take place on Saturday, October 8, 2011 and will feature the University of Denver and Harvard University. As a direct result of the San Francisco Fall Lacrosse Classic, the BAYS Foundation has made over $125,000 in grants to local youth sports and educations programs for under-resourced children throughout the Bay Area.

Gaelic FootballEdit

Kezar was home to the San Francisco GAA football league.

ReferencesEdit

  1. Consumer Price Index (estimate) 1800–2008. Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis. Retrieved December 7, 2010.
  2. Ron Fimrite, A Melding Of Men All Suited To A T, Sports Illustrated, September 5, 1977.
  3. Kezar Stadium at Ballparks.com

External linksEdit

Preceded by
first stadium
Home of the
San Francisco 49ers

1946–1970
Succeeded by
Candlestick Park
Preceded by
first stadium
Home of the
Oakland Raiders

1960
Succeeded by
Candlestick Park
Preceded by
first stadium
Host of NFC Championship Game
1971
Succeeded by
Texas Stadium
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