AKA: Murphy, Jack, Stadium, San Diego, CA; Qualcomm Stadium, San Diego, CA

Structure Type: built works - recreation areas and structures - stadiums

Designers: Hope, Frank L., and Associates, Architects (firm); R. Gary Allen (architect); Steven Ermenkov ; Charles B. Hope Sr. (architect); Frank Lewis Hope Jr. (architect); Ernest R. Lord (architect)

Dates: constructed 1965-1967

9449 Friars Road
Mission Valley East, San Diego, CA 92108-1718

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Building History

Architect Frank L. Hope, Jr., acted as the architectural director for San Diego Stadium c. 1964, with construction starting in 12/1965. He collaborated with his uncle, the engineer Charles Hope, Sr. R. Gary Allen served as the primary designer for Frank L. Hope and Associates, and Ernest R. Lord, the project architect. Hope and Associates' structural engineer was Steve Ermenkov. The stadium, hosting the American Football League's San Diego Chargers and Major League Baseball's San Diego Padres, opened on 08/20/1967. As was typical of stadia built in the 1960s and 1970s, San Diego Stadium was designed to serve multiple sports and purposes. These types of stadia fell out of favor by the 1980s, in favor of stadia dedicated only to football or baseball. Additionally, complete municipal or county ownership became far less common in the 1980s, when, under the influence of the new Republican administration, public works projects tended to be privatized as much as possible. This does not mean that professional sports teams routinely financed stadia entirely on their own at this time; they usually bargained with local governments to exact the most tax concessions out of local governments and to reserve revenue from corporate skyboxes for themselves. Usually, owners carried on financial negotiations with local governments under the threat of possibly moving franchises; this tactic usually proved successful in winning concessions. By the 1990s, taxpayers began to resist this kind of leverage, and sports teams began to supplement the financing of stadia construction.

The city-owned, 54,000-seat San Diego Stadium was re-named in 1980 for Jack Murphy (1923–1980), San Diego Union Sports editor, who stumped vigorously for the stadium in the mid-1960s; a $27 million bond issue passed on a 11/1965 ballot. The multi-purpose remained known as this until 1997, when Qualcomm, a San Diego-based wireless communications company formed in 1985, paid $18 million for the naming rights.

Building Notes

An article in the Architectural Record's Western Reports section, edited by Elizabeth Kendall Thompson, summarized some of the new stadium's salient features: "San Diego's new multi-purpose stadium is a 'super circle' which puts even the furthest seats no more distant than 227 feet from the foul lines or 277 feet from the side lines. Its split-level entrance--effected by locating the stadium on a 136-acre man-made mound--lets half the spectators go up, the other half down, to their seats. Circular ramps cantilever from a continuous circular bearing wall. Elevators are also house in circular structures. Ramap and elevator towers rise from a 115-foot landscaped plazed just inside the entrance gates." (See Elizabeth K. Thompson, "Western Building in the News," Architectural Record, Western Reports section, vol. 140, no. 1, 07/1968, p. 22-3.) San Diego Stadium's external spiral ramps can be seen at some earlier stadia on the West Coast, including Husky Stadium in Seattle.

Alteration

In 1983, over 9,000 bleachers were added to the lower deck on the open end of the stadium raising the capacity to 59,022. The most substantial addition was completed in 1997, when the stadium was fully enclosed, with the exception of where the scoreboard is located. Nearly 11,000 seats were added in readiness for Super Bowl XXXII in 1998, bringing the capacity to over 71,000

PCAD id: 3409