After a long and checkered history of being the stadium that everyone loved to hate, the 'Stick is finally being torn down.
On Wednesday morning, crews were already in the process of demolishing Candlestick Park, former home of the San Francisco Giants, and more recently, the 49ers, paving way for a new shopping, housing and entertainment hub.
Taking apart the stands kicked off four months ago, and on Tuesday, the NBC Bay Area chopper flew overhead, taking note of the cranes and crews dismantling the outdoor stadium, which opened in 1960. On Wednesday, huge excavators were crunching up the stadium seats that weren't sold to collectors, which appeared to be about half the stadium's total. The rest of the seats lay in a crumpled heap on the mangled stadium grass.
Crews expect the demolition to take two months.
The 'Stick has a storied past in San Francisco. It was famous for its strong winds that swept in from the bay, swirling into the stadium, creating unpredictable playing conditions for the players and at times, uncomfortable viewing for the fans. The Beatles held their last live concert there in 1966.
The 49ers left Candlestick Park after the 2013 season for a new $1.2 billion stadium in Santa Clara.
Following an outpouring of community concerns, developer Lennar Urban caved to pressure and agreed to tear down the stadium, rather than blowing it up, which would have been faster but potentially more dangerous.
That's because residents in the mostly low-income Bayview Hunter's Point neighborhood and an environmental law clinic at Golden Gate University argued publicly that a planned implosion of the venerable stadium might create health problems for people living nearby. A change.org petition had cited exposure to dangerous dust clouds and possible asbestos. To make sure the current demolition doesn't spray dust, the contractors were spraying down their work with water.
Lennar Urban, along with partner and mall-owner Macerich Corp., have released drawings of the future development, including a 500,000-square-foot mall at an estimated cost of more than $200 million, 6,225 homes, 220 hotel rooms and 635,000 square feet of shops there. One highlight is expected to be an African-diaspora-themed market. A Lennar spokesman would not reveal any names of particular stores or hotels, nor did he say if the development would give any architectural nod to Candlestick.
Lennar Urban division president Kofi Bonner said in a November statement the two companies plan to complete construction of the outlet mall, a hotel and the first 600 homes at the site by late 2017 or early 2018.
NBC Bay Area's Bob Redell and Henry Jenkins contributed to this report.