The San Francisco Giants' return to the postseason was a Twitter topic last week. Someone pointed out the Giants almost moved from New York to the Twin Cities in 1959, but San Francisco made a better offer and owner Horace Stoneham chose California.
I pointed out the Giants were in San Francisco by then, having moved to the West Coast along with the Dodgers for the 1958 season. And then we got started on the land that was owned by Stoneham in St. Louis Park, allegedly to build a ballpark that could have housed the Giants.
The land was on Highway 12, now Interstate 394. The Cooper Theater was there starting in the early '60s. There was a street nearby called Candlestick Drive.
Why was this evidence of the Giants' intent to move to the Twin Cities, when Candlestick Point was the area on which the Giants' built their ballpark in San Francisco?
The search for an answer led to Jeanne Anderson, the volunteer behind the St. Louis Park Historical Society. There's a terrific piece from the Society's files on the involvement of Stoneham with the St. Louis Park acreage (just west of Hwy. 100 and south of 394 these days).
The New York Giants owned the Minneapolis Millers from 1946 to 1957. It was announced on Dec. 17, 1947 by Stoneham and Millers general manager Rosy Ryan that the St. Louis Park land had been purchased. The plan was for a new $1.5 million ballpark, seating 17,500 for baseball and 25,000 for football. Construction would start in 1948 and be ready for the Millers in 1950.
Stoneham vacillated on building the ballpark. Minneapolis business forces got behind a new ballpark in Bloomington that became Met Stadium. It opened in 1956 and there was a serious push to get Stoneham to move the Giants here for 1957. Instead, the Dodgers and Giants announced in 1957 that they would be moving to California in 1958. The Giants played two seasons in Seals Stadium before Candlestick Park opened in 1960.
The MBAA still owned a large share of its original land in St. Louis Park. It was 1966 when the city agreed to a request to name a few blocks "Candlestick Drive.''
Mystery solved, except: How do we explain there was a sign next to Cedar Lake Road in 1948 that read, "Future Home of Candlestick Park''?
Help, Jeanne, help. "That is a puzzle,'' she said.
I made a guess: The San Francisco Seals were a Giants' Class AAA farm club in 1946. Stoneham or his nephew, Chub Feeney, were enamored by Candlestick Point Regional Park during visits to San Francisco. They thought it was a cool name and decided to attach it to an area of St. Louis Park that they planned to beautify with a ballpark and surrounding greenery.
"Makes sense to me,'' Jeanne Anderson said.
PLUS THREE FROM PATRICK
Other notable failed stadium projects:
1972: Vikings rolled out plan for a 70,000-seat dome, located where Target Center sits. Mayor Charles Stenvig was opposed, among others.
1972: Reporter George Beran hid in a closet to hear St. Paul Mayor Lawrence Cohen’s still-secret plan for 80,000-seat outdoor stadium for Vikings and Gophers near State Fairgrounds. “Operation Skyhigh’’ died quietly.
2000: Twins CEO Chris Clouser wanted outdoor baseball with temporary bleachers holding 25,000 in Mall of America parking lot for September series vs. Texas. Porta Potty Park didn’t float with MLB.