Qualcomm Stadium became the first true home of the San Diego Chargers of the AFL when it opened in 1967 as San Diego Stadium. Before that the Chargers had been playing at Balboa Stadium, but this new and state of the art venue gave San Diego life in the AFL before their move to the NFL as part of the merger in 1970.
This is one of two stadiums in the AFC West (along with Oakland) which was designed to be dual purpose for football and baseball. Qualcomm was home to the San Diego Padres until they moved into a baseball only facility at the end of the 2003 season. While Qualcomm has a rich history by any standard, the stadium facilities and amenities are not the best by current NFL standards and there is often talk of finding a new venue either in San Diego or L.A. This is especially important to the NFL as the league loves to host Super Bowls in Southern California and until the Chargers find a new home that avenue is blocked.
Graphic via wikipedia
The stadium has hosted three Super Bowl games: Super Bowl XXII in 1988, Super Bowl XXXII in 1998 and Super Bowl XXXVII in 2003. In addition Qualcomm has been the host of two Major League Baseball All-Star Games (1978 and 1992) and World Series games in 1984 and 1998. Whatever happens will relocation and redevelopment this list of games means that Qualcomm Stadium will go down as being the only stadium in history to host both the Super Bowl and the World Series in the same year (1998).
With 71,500 seats available on game day, Qualcomm Stadium has plenty of room for those So Cal folks who enjoy watching football on a Sunday afternoon. One of the constant battles the Chargers face is that the climate, weather and attractions of San Diego make it difficult to get the residents of the city to invest in the football team if they are not winning and in playoff contention. Also San Diego, like L.A., is often seen as a college town fan base more than a pro fan base, throwing another hurdle in the way of the team’s chances of filling Qualcomm on a weekly basis.
The biggest problem Qualcomm Stadium faces in the modern NFL is that it is neither shiny and new, nor is it broken and falling apart. It is a perfectly nice stadium, with a perfectly nice atmosphere, but there is nothing about it which makes it must see. The tailgating can be excellent though when the right team is in town and the fans are into it, which should not be a surprise given that San Diego is a foodie’s paradise.
Thus Qualcomm Stadium is caught in limbo between its past and the Chargers future. The history of the building is undeniable and if you catch a game on a warm December San Diego afternoon, while the rest of the NFL is playing in below zero temperatures, it is easy to see why this team is appealing to so many fans.
Graphic via wikipedia