Candlestick RV Park Draws the Football Faithful
On a recent morning, Wes Bradford woke up in his red and gold 45-foot motorhome, donned a San Francisco 49ers shirt and started working on dinner for 50.
Bradford, a Bakersfield, Calif., resident, was nearly 300 miles from home, but he couldn't have been more comfortable: Candlestick RV Park, where his motorhome was parked, has been a vacation destination for Bradford and many of his friends for two decades, according to the San Francisco Chronicle.
In a city where you're lucky to find a cheap hotel for $100 a night, Candlestick RV Park is truly one of a kind. It is the last RV park in San Francisco – and if the Candlestick Point redevelopment ever moves forward, it could be the last ever.
Opened in 1988 by Chu Fung – who still owns and runs the place – the park is located in a desolate area of town, but it comes alive with regulars during football season and in the summer months, when vacationing Europeans like to stop in for a night or two.
Bradford, an insurance broker and die-hard 49ers fan, discovered the park just after it opened and while he was attending a football game. It was during the team's heyday – Joe Montana, Jerry Rice and Steve Young were all around – and Bradford was told, when he asked for a spot, that he would have to wait until someone died. (He actually secured his choice stall when someone retired.)
More than 20 years later, Bradford now reserves three sites – one for his custom painted motorhome, another for a smaller RV for guests, and another one for the four picnic tables and huge barbecue grill. At a recent game, he was making 50 veal chops for the friends who were joining him for dinner prior to the game.
"I come to every game," he said. "This time there are 10 or 12 people coming from Bakersfield, and I invited a couple I met on the airplane ride. A lot of people know we're here and just come by."
Among his friends are Kelly and Kathy Roper, a retired couple from Salinas. The Ropers don't just come for football – they enjoy spending a few days in San Francisco, and often take the shuttles the park offers to downtown restaurants or just to walk around the city. Kelly, like all of the longtime RV park clients, raves about Fung, a friendly, fast-talking businessman.
"My wife and I spend a minimum of 50 days a year in San Francisco," he said. "When it's not football season, we bring the grandkids up."
With gasoline prices still high and the economy sputtering, Fung said it has been a slow year at the park. And he's worried about what will happen when Lennar redevelops Hunters Point and Candlestick Point – the project's 10,500 housing units, and retail and commercial development are slated to pave over the park.
"We hope they're going to relocate us around here," he said, noting that when the park opened, there was another RV park near what is now AT&T Park. "Now we're the only one in town."
At $69 to $74 a night, the park isn't dirt cheap, but campers said the camaraderie of being surrounded by 49ers fans makes it a fun experience. And it has a number of amenities, including the shuttle service, restrooms and showers, free Wi-Fi, a Laundromat, motorhome washing, a game room and a convenience store.
"If this is a five-star RV park, I don't want to be in a one-star," joked Folsom resident Jeff Lee, who was staying at the park for the first time with his wife, Teagan. "But you can't beat the location – it's right across from the stadium. And it can take three hours to leave a game" in a car.