San Diego State to play football next year in suburban LA

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
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SAN DIEGO — San Diego State will play its football games during the spring and fall 2021 seasons at a suburban Los Angeles soccer stadium and will raze 70,000-seat SDCCU Stadium earlier than planned to expedite construction of its new 35,000-seat venue.

The Aztecs announced Tuesday that they will play at Dignity Health Sports Park in Carson until moving into their $310 million stadium for the 2022 season. The Aztecs broke ground on their new home last month after closing a deal with the city to purchase the Mission Valley stadium site for a campus expansion.

Dignity Health Sports Park is the 27,000-seat MLS stadium where the NFL’s Chargers played for three seasons after leaving San Diego because they couldn’t get a deal for a new stadium to replace the aging SDCCU Stadium, formerly known as Qualcomm Stadium and Jack Murphy Stadium. The Chargers moved into $5 billion Sofi Stadium in Inglewood, which was built by Rams owner Stan Kroenke.

Before COVID-19 forced the Mountain West Conference to postpone the 2020 season to next spring, the Aztecs were scheduled to play two more seasons at SDCCU Stadium. Athletic director John David Wicker said the Aztecs had hoped to play one more season there, but with the coronavirus pandemic interrupting schedules, decided to move up demolition of SDCCU Stadium to the first quarter of 2021.

Wicker said there is no other stadium in San Diego consistently available to host Division I football.

“Again, it’s a short-term thing,” Wicker said. “We are San Diego State University. We are going to be here forever. We’re excited that we are building a football stadium in San Diego. … We are part of this community. We’re just going to run up the road for a little bit to play football and then we’re going to come back and we’re going to open a phenomenal stadium and continue developing a campus that is great for San Diego.”

The multipurpose SDCCU Stadium opened in 1967 as San Diego Stadium and hosted the Chargers, baseball’s Padres, SDSU and the Holiday Bowl. The Padres moved to Petco Park downtown in 2004 and the Chargers left for LA after the 2016 season.

The stadium hosted three Super Bowls, two World Series, and many concerts and other events. The Rolling Stones were scheduled to open their 2020 tour there on May 8 before it was postponed due to the pandemic.

Rather than imploding SDCCU Stadium, Wicker said the concrete will be ground up and reused as a base for the new stadium.

Many fans expressed dismay on social media that they wouldn’t get to see another game at the stadium. SDSU hopes to sell seats and other memorabilia to fans, but likely won’t be able to host a farewell event amid the pandemic, Wicker said.