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Posted: Wednesday November 7, 2007 10:42AM; Updated: Wednesday November 7, 2007 10:42AM
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NFL Fan Value Experience
30 San Francisco 49ers
MONSTER PARK :: Opened 1960 :: Capacity 69,743

Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images
 
TICKETS
Average Price Per Ticket $75.22
Price Range Of Tickets $94-$250
Ticket Availability Games sold out since 1981
A game at the former Candlestick Park is "not like it used to be when the 49ers were a winning organization," but the "fan atmosphere is getting better and becoming younger." "Niners fans used to be known as a wine-and-cheese crowd, but the last couple of years of losing have given way to a younger," "loyal and good-natured" crowd "for the most part." "Fans are very nice and respectful of visitors," but a little "blasť," and probably "too nice."
SCORE 6 out of 10
 
FOOD & SOUVENIRS
Hot Dog $3.75
Soda (12 oz.) $2
Beer (14 oz.) $5.25
Expected Meal Cost $10-20
Program $5
Cap $12
"Gordon Biersch garlic fries are amazing. There are also "good Polish dogs and beer." Indeed, "garlic fries are the best buy at the park," and "amazing" ones can be found at Gordon Biersch, which also has "good Polish dogs and beer" as does The Stinking Rose. Overall, "the food choices are actually not too bad," and "concession stands are generally easy to get to," but some describe the quality as "nothing special."
SCORE 5 out of 10
 
ACCESSIBILITY
Parking $25
"Getting to and from the stadium is a painful experience." Traffic getting over the bridge into San Francisco is "insane," and "once you get to the game it is an unorganized mess of cars" trying to get into the stadium. Travel from Highway 101 "merge[s] into only two lanes in each direction" from the "one exit off the highway," which generates waits as long as "two hours sometimes just to leave the game." Fans can take "surface streets through the neighborhoods" around the stadium, but some caution the journey is "a long, slow drive" on "narrow, one-way streets" "through a scary neighborhood." Public transit is limited to the bus system, which some find "effective."
SCORE 4 out of 10
 
TAILGATING
The scene is "mellow, but good," complete with an impromptu "award for the best set-up" each game. "Tiny" parking spaces force tailgaters to limit their spreads, and if it rains, the parking lot soon becomes home to a "bunch of muddy, small lakes." Still, "in recent years, it has been more fun to tailgate than to watch the Niners inside." "Thanks to the diversity of San Francisco, you can find food from all over the world," from "Hawaiian barbecue" to "boiled crabs" to "stuffed mushrooms" to "Napa Valley wine paired with triple-cream French brie."
SCORE 6 out of 10
 
TEAM
Frank Gore
Frank Gore :: Brad Mangin/SI
Record through Week 9 2-6
Worth Watching Frank Gore (RB), Nate Clements (CB)
SCORE 2 out of 10
 
STADIUM ATMOSPHERE
The stadium is "old, but a majestic old," filled with "a lot of memories ... 'The Catch,' the Super Bowl years, Jerry Rice, Joe Montana." But not every memory is a good one: "The seats have been bleached by the sun, the luxury boxes are outdated, and it is often windy and unpleasant." "It could be 80 degrees and sunny around the bay, but 50 with 35 mph wind gusts at the stadium." Once home to baseball's Giants as well, the park's "seats are way too far from the field and the sound and video systems are subpar." Still, despite the opinion that it is "falling apart, smells, is dirty, leaky, overcrowded and is in need of a makeover, the [former] Stick is an old-school gem and still the best place to watch the Niners rip the Rams." Aside from the game, "there are no attractions, unless you count the two biggest escalators you've ever seen." Parking can be a chore when it rains, as many of the lots "flood very easily," a condition worsened because many of the areas are not paved, making the place a "swamp."
SCORE 3 out of 10
 
NEIGHBORHOOD
"The neighborhood around the stadium is one of the poorer areas of San Francisco and can be very intimidating for those not used to an urban environment." With more than its fair share of "dilapidated" housing, "commercial warehouses and empty fields," Hunters Point is "dangerous" and "scary" to some, and "working class" to others. "It's always a good idea to park in designated areas and not in front of someone's house."
SCORE 4 out of 10
 
BOTTOM LINE
While years of playoff success gave the former Candlestick a gruff charm, the tough times of late no longer serve to distract the effects of age on the NFL's oldest unrenovated stadium. Better times on the field may dull some of the sting of a dreadful commute, but the high prices of San Francisco and the edifice that is AT&T Park make attending a game at Monster Stadium truly a labor of Niners love.
FINAL SCORE 30 out of 70
 
 

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