After just over 2 years of construction work, the first game at San Diego's Snapdragon Stadium was officially played. In an arena filled almost to capacity, the players of the local college football team, the Aztecs, took on the Arizona Wildcats.
The brand-new Snapdragon Stadium was built right next to the site of the former monumental San Diego Stadium. The 70,000-plus-seat venue has historically hosted two teams from the big four major professional sports leagues in North America. Until 2003, the MLB's San Diego Padres played there, before they moved to Petco Park, and the NFL's Chargers, who departed to Los Angeles in 2016 and have been able to use SoFi Stadium since 2020.
The exodus of both professional clubs from San Diego Stadium meant that the further sense of maintaining such a large facility began to be questioned. In 2020, the sizable 135-acre site (approximately 55 hectares), which also held the stadium itself, was sold by the city to San Diego State University. The old stadium had become too large for the university's needs, so it was levelled in 2020/21. Already before that, in August 2020, construction of a 35,000-seat facility had begun immediately beside it in order to serve the university's football team, the Aztecs.
It is to this team that the venue owes its original name of Aztec Stadium. This changed in December 2021, when American IT company Qualcomm became the arena's sponsor. The company put its system on a chip manufacturing brand, Snapdragon, in the venue's new name. Construction of the stadium went very smoothly and took "only" two years and two days. The facility cost $310 million. On August 20, fans were allowed into the arena for the first time, to which the Aztecs team was introduced. This past weekend it was time for the first official game at Snapdragon Stadium.
On Saturday, September 3, the locals took on the Arizona Wildcats. There was a lot of interest in the encounter, and it is hardly surprising as it was the first game for the Aztecs in San Diego since 2019! The football team had to relocate to Dignity Health Sports Park, located in the suburbs of Los Angeles, for the duration of the construction of their new home.
Fans from San Diego purchased as many as 12,500 season tickets for the upcoming campaign. Unfortunately, the locals suffered a 20-38 defeat to the visitors from Arizona. This is certainly not how the fans envisioned the inauguration of their new stadium, but as the saying goes: "the first pancake is always spoiled" and there will certainly be plenty of positive vibes at Snapdragon in the future.
The match kicked off at 12:30 P.M. local time. San Diego has been hit by a record-breaking heatwave in recent days and on match day the average temperature hovered around 35℃ (95℉). Several people had to be helped due to heat exhaustion. The stadium does not have a canopy, so fans throughout the complex sought shaded areas to shelter from the sun.
The playing field in the arena was designed below ground level. It is surrounded on all sides by stands, the lower level of which on the west side is further divided into two smaller sections. The stands along the pitch have a second tier. A small second level is also located above the north stand, which also has a standing section.
Behind the western part of the auditorium is a semi-open lounge with commercial and a hospitality area. Illumination is provided by floodlights positioned on 12 masts. Above the south stand, a special platform resembling a pier is located.
The inauguration of Snapdragon Stadium marked the completion of the first phase of construction of the new San Diego State University campus. In the future, further academic facilities are to be built in the area, as well as residential buildings, retail and commercial space and recreational areas. The entire project is called SDSU Mission Valley.