Archive for January 4, 2021

Knocking Down Qualcomm Stadium

January 4, 2021

Memories of a place depend on a lot of things. They depend on how and whereabouts you lived in that place. They depend on when you got there. And when I got to San Diego we had Qualcomm Stadium. In fact, I lived in Normal Heights and if I walked just a few blocks from my house I could stand on top of the ridge, overlooking Mission Valley, and I could see it just below me.

It was a huge concrete bowl with a green field in the middle, surrounded by an ocean of parking lot. Some say it was the biggest parking lot west of the Mississippi, though I couldn’t vouch for that. Old duffers who knew it by its old name, Jack Murphy Stadium, hated the corporate name. But I’d never known it as anything but Qualcomm. The Q, for short.

Qualcomm demolishing

By January 1, crews had begun demolishing the east end of Qualcomm stadium as they tore up the stadium’s huge parking lot and graded the land.

But now Qualcomm Stadium is being demolished. If you are a San Diegan and you don’t live in a cave, you probably know the story.

The San Diego Padres left when the city agreed to build them Petco Park downtown. Say what you want about the way Petco was built and whose money paid for it, but it’s a better baseball park than Qualcomm.

And what about the San Diego Chargers? They nagged taxpayers for a fancy new football stadium for years… something that would have ultimately cost in the neighborhood of $1 billion. The day came when a stadium referendum finally went on the ballot and San Diego voters (God bless em) said ‘not a chance.’

The Chargers moved to LA, where a revitalized Rams franchise already had plans to play and where the Chargers had literally dozens of fans.

I know. My sarcasm may show a bad attitude. But I was never angry about San Diego’s loss of the Chargers or the money-grubbing NFL they belong to.  What’s happening in Mission Valley–the creation of a satellite campus for San Diego State and a new collegiate-sized football stadium for the SDSU Aztecs– is clearly for the best. But while I don’t mourn the Chargers I do mourn the Q.

I watched Padres games at Qualcomm Stadium. I watched my first and only live NFL football game there with my dad. It was the Chargers versus the Saints… long before Drew Brees had any connection with either team. I saw light shows and fireworks displays at Qualcomm, some of them with Nicholas and Sophie when they were little.

I remember a guy I met asking me if I planned to watch the KGB Light show at the stadium. This was soon after I moved here and I’d never heard of such a thing. It was a time, in fact, when I still thought that KGB was a Soviet spy agency, not a San Diego rock & roll station.

Any structure or anything else that takes up a big part of your brain when you think about a place where you’ve lived, and where you’ve been happy, is something you’ll miss when it’s gone.

In the meantime, I’ll look forward to seeing games in the new college football stadium when it’s built. One problem with the Q is it was too damn big. Even a good-sized college crowd of 30,000 fans seemed small and silent when scattered around an NFL stadium meant for 70,000 people. I’ll also look forward to giving San Diego State some room to grow.

Yes, knocking down Qualcomm Stadium is for the best. All I’m saying is I’ll remember the place, and part of me will miss it when it’s all gone.