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Demolition on San Diego's Old Stadium is on Schedule

NBC San Diego logo NBC San Diego 12/31/2020 Joe Little
a close up of a bridge: Part of San Diego’s old football stadium is nothing but rubble after demolition crews started taking it apart piece-by-piece. © Provided by NBC San Diego

Part of San Diego’s old football stadium is nothing but rubble after demolition crews started taking it apart piece-by-piece.

Shane Stroberg stared at the two blue plastic seats resting against the wall in his office.

The seats represent a lifetime of memories as an athlete and a fan of San Diego sports. They used to be a part of San Diego’s old concrete stadium in Mission Valley; seats 16 and 17 in one of Jack Murphy, Qualcomm, or SDCCU’s sections.

“It was something I had to get just to remember,” Stroberg said softly. “To me, those are seats for my grandfather and my dad, the men that showed me that place.”

Stroberg fondly remembered walking into “The Murph” on his father’s shoulders to watch the San Diego Padres play for the first time.

“I was on my dad’s shoulders and we walked in through that Plaza Level and I saw a big-league diamond for the first time and I’ll never forget it," Stroberg said.

He said he’s done the same with his three children.

Stroberg had not seen the stadium since he picked the seats up in early December. Since then, much of the old stadium’s eastern bowl has been torn down.

“My gut sinks,” said Stroberg. “My stomach sinks every time I see it.”

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“It was a surprise to me,” said Ron Johnson.

The Clairemont man doesn’t usually drive along Interstate 15 or through Mission Valley. He was unaware demolition on the stadium had progressed so far.

“It’s just sad watching it going down,” said Johnson. “It was a brand-spanking new stadium when I first entered it.”

He said his first San Diego Chargers game was in 1967.

San Diego State University now owns the site. It hired crews to demolish the old stadium and simultaneously build the new Aztec Stadium. An SDSU spokesperson said both projects are on schedule, with demolition wrapping up in early 2021 and the new stadium slated to host college football by the 2022 season.

“I kind of am disappointed we didn’t get the big boom implosion and watch it all fall in,” smiled Stroberg.

California’s environmental laws required crews to take the stadium apart piece-by-piece to keep the dust from getting in the air. The SDSU spokeswoman said the statue of Jack Murphy and his dog Abe will be relocated to the new stadium. However, the giant mural facing I-15 from the outside of the stadium will not be saved. The spokeswoman said in a statement: “The stadium mural, due to its size, condition, and substrate is cost prohibitive to save…. SDSU has already documented the mural through high-resolution photography and video taken from a flat angle to eliminate distortion. These files will be archived in Special Collections and University Archives at the SDSU Library.”

Stroberg looked again at the two blue plastic seats in his office. He doesn’t know what he’ll do with them yet but he’s happy to have the constant reminder of San Diego’s old stadium.

“For me, picking up the seats with my son is kind of my closure on it.”

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