FAREWELL, OLD FRIEND
San Diego Stadium, Jack Murphy Stadium, Qualcomm Stadium, SDCCU Stadium (1967-2020), RIP.
By Jeff Ristine | Photographs by Sandy Huffaker
January 22, 2021
It opened in 1967 as plain old San Diego Stadium and closed 53 years later after three
name changes, three NFL Super Bowls, two World Series and MLB All-Star Games and sold-out
tour stops by The Who, the Stones and Beyoncé. And, of course, hundreds of Aztec football
Ken Ables was there for the first game in 1967 (16-8 win over Tennessee State) — and the last time the Red and Black took the field in 2019 (13-3 win over BYU). “I went to my first season there when I was 10 and I went to my last season there when I was 62,” Ables says. “I took my wife there when we were first dating, and brought my kids to their first games.” He also watched hundreds of games with his father, renowned Aztec superfan Tom Ables, who attended 788 home and away games from 1946 until his death in 2017. “We had the same seats [in Mission Valley] from start to finish: Club Level, section 36,” Ables says.
Together they wrote the book — “Go Aztecs” — on SDSU football history, so Ables is pretty much a stadium historian as well. “I can remember when it was brand new,” he says. “In its original configuration it really was quite nice. It was expanded a couple of times, and it kind of lost a little bit of its charm each time, and it just got neglected.”
By the end, the stadium’s two original major-league tenants — the San Diego Chargers and the Padres — were both long gone. With the Aztecs temporarily relocating to Carson for home games, demolition of SDCCU Stadium got underway in November 2020 in order to accelerate construction for Aztec Stadium and SDSU Mission Valley.
There’s plenty of anticipation for the new stadium that will be built in time for the 2022 season. “I’m excited for a right-sized stadium that will be completely packed with Aztec fans, and the energy that that’s going to bring for our student athletes,” says John David Wicker, director of intercollegiate athletics. Football Head Coach Brady Hoke agrees. “It’s going to be a great venue,” Hoke says. “Something that will really stick out in our recruiting.” Still, he took a moment to recall the 2010 Poinsettia Bowl (35-14 win over Navy) on a heavily rain-soaked field as a favorite highlight, and to give the stadium its due reverence. “It was home, it felt like home,” Hoke says.
Ables says, “It had a fun run.”