If a stadium in decay has no name, does it exist? Not in the eyes of one municipality.
Written by Kyle Magin
Today, it’s San Diego Community Credit Union (SDCCU) Stadium, but you wouldn’t know it when you’re in the house.
The ancient (circa-1967) brutalist stadium has been known variously as San Diego Stadium, Jack Murphy, and, most recently, as Qualcomm, or “the Q.”
SDCCU bought their short-term naming rights (they run through the end of 2018) for $500,000 earlier this fall after Qualcomm backed out of its 20-year relationship with the stadium when the NFL’s Chargers left for Los Angeles last winter. “Stadium,” as many in the city are jokingly referring to it, hosts the San Diego State Aztecs football team, who don’t quite have the cache of an NFL franchise, and even less than when Qualcomm originally bought the rights to a barn which also featured Padres home games.
Fans at home are more likely to know what the place is called today from TV announcers dutifully carrying water for SDSU than those in the stands. I’ve been to two Aztec games so far this season—wonderfully entertaining night contests against Stanford and Northern Illinois—and there’s little to nothing to suggest SDCCU is getting their half-million’s worth.
Qualcomm’s name has been stricken from the big-letter marquee inside the stadium, leaving it with only the word “Stadium,” hence the hilariously sardonic unofficial moniker. But, the software giant’s name is still on nearly every cupholder in the lower sections, on a notable thoroughfare near the stadium (Qualcomm Way), and on the Trolley stop in the parking lot. The latter two require city action to change, and the the former would require SDSU and the city (SDCCU’s tenant and owner, respectively) to spend like $80 on some guy and a paint scraper.
The lack of care around the old concrete behemoth is laughable. Exactly one of the four escalators leading to the park’s topmost deck is working. Vast swaths of field-level and endzone sections are tarped off.
Concessions—so important to taco- and beer-prizing San Diegans—are thin. Most of the specialty booths—think anything besides your standard dog-and-a-beer stadium fare—are shuttered when the Aztecs are home. Brew options are mostly restricted to both offerings from Budweiser and a few cans from semi-local craft brewer Ballast Point (they’re owned by New York’s Constellation now). It’s a far cry from the concourse-lining offerings from nearly every microbrewer in San Diego county that you can find at Padres games. Both suds and grub are far and few between on the concourses at Stadium. It’s abundantly clear that the powers that be are trying to employ as few people as possible to work until the lights go off in Mission Valley.
Security is deeply inconsistent. On the night before the Las Vegas shooting, a guard from the notoriously shitty local firm Elite waved fan after fan through without so much as a wanding or pocket-checking. During the Stanford game, with some 47,000+ fans in attendance, a friend and I strolled into an alumni suite at halftime without anyone saying a word.
Despite all this, the games have been fun. I’ve gone twice with friends who tried out college football for the first time since the Chargers left them football-less and converted them on the sport’s amateur circuit. The student section is pretty lit (in both senses of the word, as the team plays a good deal of pre-drinking-friendly night games) and the marching band is lively. While Stadium isn’t on campus, it’s a 10 minute trolley ride away, so it’s not UCLA to the Rose Bowl. Fans are generally enthusiastic, as well they should be with a ranked, 6-0 squad to root on. This Saturday’s Code Red (Read: wear red) night home game vs. Boise State should be a blast. Football is far from dead in America’s finest city.
But Stadium, unfortunately, sure is. The park as it’s currently operated—which, to be clear: it’s being run by a short staff in an inconvenient, unsafe manner—is an embarrassment to both San Diego and the university.
The sooner this farce can be brought to a close, the better.