During the final 49 weeks until Kickoff 2013, we will take a moment each week to look at various aspects of the football program.


The Final 49: Images of Wonder

Dec. 1, 2012

By Tom Whitestone

Hard to put into terms exactly what the draw is of a spectacular playing facility.

Why, when we'd go check out construction progress, would we see people standing at the fence, peeking in?  Why, when we drive by do we inevitably see folks getting their pictures taken outside the gates?  A young couple carries in their newborn for a photo and a glimpse.  An older couple sits in the top row and just looks out at the emptiness. 

It's hard to communicate the motivation.

An empty stadium.  No action.  No players.  A field.  A logo.

Nothing more.

I get people heading out to old stadiums and getting caught up in the nostalgia.

Bird and Havlicek in the old Boston Garden.  Ruth and Mantle at mighty Yankee Stadium.  Butkus and Payton at Soldier Field.   Memories live in every nook and cranny of those great places.  You can picture Yaz playing it off the Green Monster, as if he right out there in front of you.

Those old stadiums hold your memories - the games you saw on TV as a kid, or better yet, watched in person.  Or the games you've only seen highlights of in old grainy clips.  It makes no matter.  It's just cool to picture those ghosts out there.  Looking upon those arenas creates a connection with you, your team and your past. 

Our football stadium?   There are no memories.  But there is a connection - not with our past, but with our future.

What our football stadium lacks in memories, it more than makes up for in dreams.

I spent some time at the stadium over Thanksgiving Break.  The student-athletes had headed home.  Practices had been finished.  Coaches' offices were locked up.  But still the procession continued.

People came.  And stood.  And looked.

Fans walked up to Gate One and peered through the fence, just to see the goalposts up close.  Folks wandered around towards the North Endzone, perhaps to take pictures with the Football Center in the background.

Some nearly circled the stadium -- in an effort to take it all in.

Some stood perfectly still - in an effort to take it all in.

 "This is where the team will run out of the tunnel", you could imagine them saying.  "This is where our seats will be."  Maybe they guessed at which end zone the 49ers first touchdown would come.

Some pointed at all there was to see.  Others closed their eyes.

Staring at the emptiness, fans were left to fill their visions with their own imagination.

Doubtless, they saw players running on the field.  They heard whistles being blown.  They felt the crowd erupting.

Why did they come?   What did they see?

Perhaps it's not so tough to put into words.

I mean, how often does a person get a chance to visit the site where their dreams will come true?