Candlestick Park looks a lot like FedEx Field

One of last weekend’s four playoff games was played on a field that has been called “crappy” and “horrible” and anything and everything but “actual grass.”

This weekend, the ultimately reality show that is the NFL will have as another source of unwelcome reality the condition of the surface on which the players will be playing.

Via, kicker Billy Cundiff posted on Facebook photos of the field at Candlestick Park, and it doesn’t look good.

It’s flat.  And most of it apparently once had grass on it.  Beyond that, there’s little in common with a real pro football field.

The truth is that too many NFL stadiums have subpar playing surfaces.  (In this era, one is too many.)  Whether it’s the uneven trays of grass in Houston or the green-painted dirt at Soldier Field or the mess at FedEx on Sunday or, if anyone could ever forget, the marsh that once was Heinz Field, the NFL and its teams have too much money to allow anything other than consistent, uniform, and safe playing surfaces in each facility.

The league obsesses over uniformity in every other possible way.  So if it’s not good enough for a guy’s socks to not be pulled up far enough (or, heaven forbid, to be pulled up too high), why is it good enough for two teams to play on a surface that looks bad, that plays bad, that keeps the players from demonstrating the full extent of their abilities, and that puts them in danger of being injured?

There’s no way that any effort to promote player safety can be taken seriously unless and until the NFL insists on consistency and uniformity in the construction of the 31 fields on which NFL games are regularly played.

82 responses to “Candlestick Park looks a lot like FedEx Field

  1. totally agree with this article, maybe they could have worked on them during the lockout. it’s not like the owners can’t afford it.

  2. I’m sick of player safety crap, pretty apparent by griffin his safety meant nothing to him. All week long, players have been saying that they would do the same thing, proving they don’t care. They’re complaining about the fields bc it’s a safe way to push the blame off.

  3. Amen brother. Don’t touch QBs anywhere but shred knees all day. Either your for safety or your hypocrites. But, I think we know which is true.

  4. Out here where I leave all the high schools now have field turf. So, there is no reason why a billion dollar industry such as the NFL doesn’t make Field Turf mandatory. It’s actually cheaper than maintaining grass year round and you don’t have to worry about it being destroyed by weather or multiple games being played on it. Call me crazy but I think each game should be played on a field that optimizes the abilities of these unique athletes. If we no longer care that wide receivers can’t be touched, then we shouldn’t care about the “tradition” of playing in grass or in the mud

  5. At least the east coast has the excuse of very cold weather and frozen ground. The ground doesn’t freeze in SF.

    That said, it’s been known for decades that they build The Stick a little too low relative to sea level, and being as it’s right on the Bay, the surface can get a bit swampy when the tide is high. Still, it’s not like they’ve been playing bowl games there.

  6. Harbaugh is probably ordering the field be messed up so that he has a chance to stop the packers offense without the replacement refs making up phantom penalties. Isn’t going to matter though.

  7. it’s called home field advantage!!! j/k

    maybe it’s so that all fields have their uniqueness similar to why all baseball stadiums have different distances for homeruns?

    you can’t talk about breaking single season or single game records if your team plays on great conditions at home for 8 games a year. need to make them uniform.

  8. kotcha23 says:
    Jan 8, 2013 8:58 AM

    Come play at Lambeau, they actually take pride in their field.


    Earn it.

  9. That game at Heinz field was awesome. I still remember that one kickoff landing and not even bouncing, just “splat” into the swamp.

    That being said, if the league is serious about player safety, they need to make these teams maintain their playing surfaces.

  10. You nailed this one Florio, hats off to you.

    I remember the NFC Championship Game in 1995 when the Niners beat the Cowboys. John Madden, who lives in the Bay Area and is VERY familiar with the ground make-up, said “they’re basically playing on painted mud” so this has been going on for a long long long time and its about time the owners and Goodell took up the issue.

  11. I am not a proponent of making every NFL team have field turf. However I think they do need to set a standard that every field needs to meet. I would welcome them implementing a new rule where, if you fail to obtain that standard a set amount of times in a year or in back to back years the team is required to install field turf. No need to penalize teams who want to keep grass and maintain it at a high level.

  12. If the NFL cared about safety they would cancel the game at Candlestick and move it to Lambeau. Lambeau field was in excellent shape last weekend.

    That’s pathetic that they can get grass to grow better in 20 degrees at Lambeau then they can get to grow in San Fran this time of year.

  13. As a 49ers fan I’m suprised. Maybe I’m wrong but I’ve always gotten the impression that their field was one of the best maintained grass fields in the league. Disappointing.

  14. moneey31 is completely correct. The bare minimum the league should demand of it’s teams fields is DD Grassmaster that is used in Green Bay. It’s a combination of Field Turf and real grass. If teams host Bowl games then they should be using straight Field Turf. The Patriots saw how bad their field was in 06 and switched to Field Turf in the middle of the season. These field conditions are inexcusable.

  15. Pretty soon they’ll all be playing in domes. It’s already like the arena league what-with 300 yard passing days being commonplace and passing offense in general trending up and up each year.

    Funny how I don’t remember people complaining in the 80’s and 90’s playing in San Francisco on those crappy fields.

    The media is turning this league so soft…YES there are injuries but turf can be just as bad, if not more.

  16. That’s disgraceful if the 49ers field is like last week in Washington. Games shouldn’t be played on those fields, they should be up to a certain standard. Get ready for more horrible injuries.

  17. At one time artificial turf was hated by every player because it was hard as concrete but still grabbed at the feet causing knee injuries. Modern field turf has made artificial surfaces about as soft and safe as well groomed natural grass.
    There is no reason for the NFL not to mandate that fields be rebuilt with proper drainage beneath a field turf surface so that uniform and safe playing surfaces are the rule for one and all.

  18. Oh man..How did Jerry Rice and Steve Young ever survive in such horrifying field conditions…..Whatever.

  19. Niners will have new field with thier new home. bottom line no excuse for what fed ex was on sunday. either fix it or put down field turf. playoffs always expose these pathetic fields. soldier field is terrible no doubt.

  20. Not only are modern artificial turf fields safer than natural turf now, they are much less expensive to maintain over time. That’s why the majority of new fields being installed on the high school level are artificial turf.

    BTW- Field Turf is a brand of artificial turf, not the designation for all artificial grass surfaces.

  21. The playing surface is the same for both teams. I don’t agree all fields should be made equal. This game was meant to be played in all weather and all field conditions. I agree with tailoring a field to he home teams advantage. Some teams like to run, some pass, why make ll fields only suit one style of play. If we want to make everything equal then all stadiums should be built identical so there are no advantages in crowd size or noise levels. The game is changing too far already. Just play football!!

  22. Come on other teams! If Mike Brown is willing to put money down on a brand new turf like he did last offseason than I am sure the rest of the league can too.
    I had a chance to walk on the new turf before the season started and that stuff is amazing! Like walking on cushiony, springy goodness. No wonder some of these players can jump so high.
    Again for emphasis, Mike Brown paid for one! Why can’t everyone else?

  23. From that distance the fact that you are talking about the playing surface is kinda funny. Might just be grass clippings, you would never know from that picture. Funny how this was not mentioned at any point in season

  24. This is Billy Cundiff’s 1st contribution to the team? Highlighting field conditions?

    Does this guy want a job?

  25. If anything, you’d think the SF ownership would make sure the field is in perfect condition for the safety of their own players…wouldn’t you think?

  26. One could think that San Fran has let their field go to the advantage of their offensive style with Rodgers and all of those receivers coming to town this weekend! Just a thought

  27. I seem to remember the league forcing both the Steelers and Pats to resod their fields before the playoffs a few years ago when they were in rough shape.

    The NFL should have done that with Washington and should be insisting the 9ers do it this week.

  28. @bucketman9 says: Jan 8, 2013 9:55 AM

    The Packers play at Soldier field twice a year, they will be prepared for poor field conditions!

  29. Mile High has excellent grass despite the cold weather and a horse-with-cowgirl that gallop on it after each home score (which has been quite a lot of late). Maybe someone should give them a call and ask how they do it…

  30. There is no way that Carl the greenskeeper at Bushwood would ever let this happen on his watch. Come on San Fran get it together!

  31. kotcha23 says: Jan 8, 2013 8:58 AM

    Come play at Lambeau, they actually take pride in their field.

    maybe they should’ve beat the Vikings in the final game

  32. flik44 says:
    Jan 8, 2013 9:19 AM

    kotcha23 says:
    Jan 8, 2013 8:58 AM

    Come play at Lambeau, they actually take pride in their field.


    Earn it.


    Packers did earn it. Replacement refs screwed ’em out of it.

  33. Yeah, every team needs to put the same field down, so that it is competitive for every team.

    Then, we need to make every stadium a dome, so that there is no wind that can give one team an advantage.

    Then, we need to make all coaching staffs equal, so that no team has an advantage.

    Then, we need to make all teams equal, so that they can have fair games. What, you don’t think it is fair that each team can have only X amount of Pro Bowlers on them?

    This is insane, let them play football in what ever conditions the home team is in.

  34. trollhammer20 says: Jan 8, 2013 9:08 AM

    At least the east coast has the excuse of very cold weather and frozen ground. The ground doesn’t freeze in SF.

    That said, it’s been known for decades that they build The Stick a little too low relative to sea level, and being as it’s right on the Bay, the surface can get a bit swampy when the tide is high. Still, it’s not like they’ve been playing bowl games there.
    MOST of the Bay Area is either at or below sea level.

  35. I agree that the field surface is a mess at Candlestick – it’s been that way going back as far as the 1981 season, when it was torn up by an October concert by the Rolling Stones. I’m sure it was just a bad before then, but it was of no consequence because the Niners weren’t relevant by midseason during any of those years (oddly enough, Candlestick had artificial turf until the mid-seventies).

    One thing to note – those photos do look a lot like FedEx did on Sunday – but the FedEx turf looked like that AFTER the groundskeepers basically painted the turf and tried to make it look as nice as possible. The photos from Candlestick are probably from an untouched field – I don’t think it’s entirely appropriate to compare the two.

    But regardless, a sloppy field at Candlestick in January shouldn’t be news to anybody over 30 years after this was first observed.

  36. All the whining is silly. They are football players. They can deal with rough conditions.

    Don’t like playing in rough conditions? Win more games and host a playoff game.

    Field turf isn’t the solution. It’s not as knee friendly as people feel that it is. Sure the durability is good, but if you have a decent grounds crew you will be fine with grass.

    Look at baseball. Sure, they take a lot less of a beating on the grass, but Pittsburgh, New York, Boston, Philly, Baltimore, and Cleveland are all playing in late March, early April in those cities. Oakland is playing miles away from San Fran with the Raiders and the A’s on the same turf for a solid month and a half, and sure the infield cut out isn’t always a great surface to play on, but the A’s have a decent surface the next day if they need it.

    Don’t blame the surface, blame the keepers of the grounds

  37. First, this picture was taken by the Candlestick Tours via their Facebook, not Cundiff.

    Second, Candlestick always looks like this come December/January

  38. @flik44
    We did earn it. Guess you never heard of the fail mary. You must be new to football.

    Man, I am a Packer fan, and this isn’t helpful. Did Fail Mary feel terrible and sickening? Yup, sure did. But the time to be angry about it was a few months ago.

    I’ve made peace with it. The other Packer fans I know have made peace with it. And if you haven’t, you need to figure out how to.

    Our team is in the playoffs, and on a playoff run. We could have sealed the 2 seed by beating the Vikings week 17. Didn’t happen.

    Now, winner moves on, loser goes home. Just win. That’s all. If you still want some kind of closure to it, just hope the Seahawks beat the Falcons so we can get them at home in the NFC Championship.

  39. This is just getting crazy. If this happens I will never be able to watch football again. Last season we already had 4 qbs throw for 5000 yards and 2 of them play in ny and ne. If this happens the NFL should just meirge with the arena league and play every game in doors so every qb can have 50 tds and 5k yards a year.but while we are at it may as well make the new two hand touch rule for a qb so they never miss a game again. A wide receiver must make a catch and turn up field before you hit him to and your supposed to try to bear hug them instead of tackling to stop forward progress. Just crazy

  40. I completely agree. If Green Bay can maintain an excellent field year round, it can be done anywhere and there’s no reason it shouldn’t because it’s hazardous to player safety.

  41. @flik44
    We did earn it. Guess you never heard of the fail mary. You must be new to football.

    GEEZ, you act like that was the only bad call all year, quit whining

  42. teambringitstrong says:

    MOST of the Bay Area is either at or below sea level.


    I guess so if you include the actual BAY!

  43. Playing on real grass is the best thing for players’ health, but the uniforms get dirty and it doesn’t look as pristine for the tv audience. Would you rather get tackled on grass or on a pool table? Turf gets destroyed, so occasionally you have to lay down some more, as the Pats once did in their old stadium, before a big game. Just do it!

  44. This whole topic is just nuts.

    Yes, Fed Ex was horrible, but that doesn’t mean ALL grass fields are unsafe. The fact that we are talking about grass fields as if they are a bane to the game just makes me sad.

    The game was MADE to be played on grass. It is actually MORE EXPENSIVE to have a natural grass playing surface. Instead of blaming teams who have natural grass and calling them cheap, perhaps people should do a little research. Candlestick gets a little messy in January, but it’s NOTHING like Fed Ex. When the game starts on Saturday the field will be just fine.

  45. This article is spot on. While I don’t agree with those who think Field Turf should be mandatory, there are MANY different solutions to the problem so there is NO excuse for field conditions like this. Teams need to know they will be held accountable and the NFL needs to inspect and approve the field mid-week, especially before playoff games. There is still time to resod that field before the game. The NFL is a money printing machine, so the amount to resod the field before a second round playoff game is not going to break anyone. Frankly the cost is nothing compared with the cost if anyone gets injured and has their career cut short because of the poor field conditions. I realize those costs don’t matter to the league because its the player losing the money, not the owner, but if the league was actually operating as it should (to be the intermediary between players and owners and to ensure fair competition) they wouldn’t let that stand in the way.

  46. Those protesting Candlestick have never seen Kesar(?) stadium. HS, college, whatever. The annual East West game was always mud wrestling in helmets.

  47. I can’t believe that you people want to take mud and sloppy field conditions out of pro football. Go watch the arena league and leave my precious sport alone.

  48. I doubt it’s a coincidence that the Redskins and 49ers are both run-heavy teams and their fields are crap.

    Packers and Patriots? Expect a nicer surface.

    And yes, the league should look into this.

  49. donreid1027 says:Jan 8, 2013 11:42 AM

    We did earn it. Guess you never heard of the fail mary. You must be new to football.

    GEEZ, you act like that was the only bad call all year, quit whining

    Wasnt the only bad call, but was the worse I have ever seen in my 40 years of watching football. Does it matter at this point? No.

    I guarantee you one thing, that play will be shown on Television for decades.

  50. I’m not sure if it’s just the weather, but Tampa consistantly has one of the highest rated fields in the NFL. Guess what type it is.

  51. I’m a Packer fan who lives in the SF Bay Area, but I’m sure the field won’t be that bad. The weather has been decent (mid 50’s and dry), and looks to continue that way.

    Also I’m sure the field will be in better shape than Lambeau in the 1997 NFCCG vs. the Niners. That game was dubbed “The Mud Bowl”.

    That said, it will be nice when the new stadium is built in an area where there is actually good public transportation, and you don’t have to fear for your safety in the parking lot.

  52. The Texan Field is awful …
    We lost two Linebackers in that game…
    Sure, Duane Brown went after DJ after the whistle and bent his leg awkwardly (Torn Knee)…
    And Perry went on IR cause of his wrist…

    idk, but I guess it helped us when Arian Foster kept slipping.

  53. If the league (Goodell) was really concern about player safety, he would declare fields like FedEx and Candlestick unsafe and move those games to the visitors stadium. I guarantee they would fix their fields. You wouldn’t see a second game moved.

  54. I would think a billion dollar enterprise would want to preserve its assets (players) by providing a consistent surface for them to play on.

    However, this is football we’re talking right?

    So what if the elements and the playing surface are variable. Football is not meant to be played in anticeptic dome or test tube grass. Play on dirt and grass and live with it if it is what or crappy.

  55. My prediction:

    Kaepernick suffers torn ACL; league does nothing.


    Rodgers suffers torn ACL; league pours millions into R&D of new strain of “perfect” field grass and awards ‘Niners franchise to Los Angeles.

    (go hawks)

  56. @shlort
    Really? That was the worst call you’ve seen in 40 years of watching football.
    What do you watch, like 2 games a year? There was worse calls in the Ravens-Colts game this weekend. Did you catch that one? No. Then maybe you sat down at thanksgiving and watched the Lions-Texans game where Justin Forsett was allowed to run for a touchdown after he was blatantly down by contact 70 yards earlier. Nope, didn’t see that one either eh.
    Maybe the problem is you only watch Packer games, well you should really go and rewatch the Packers-Giants game from last years playoffs where the Packers benefitted from some truly shocking calls (but still got blown out).

  57. Regarding the Heinz field marsh. The field was resodded, but sometimes even resodding a field doesn’t help, because Mother Nature can come along and rain for 3 straight days. There’s no guarantees. Some people will say field turf is the answer but many players will say they prefer natural grass. A player blows out his knee because his cleats stick in the field turf, blame the field turf. A player blows out his knee on grass because the turf is too wet or worn down, and they blame the grass. What ya gonna do? Inspecting the field for playoff games, especially for teams with a bye, should be done 7-10 days prior to the home game.

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