The San Diego Chargers football team tried to tell its city for years that “The Murph” was far past its prime. Now, the city’s venerable stadium will be in the past.
The Mission Valley mecca of San Diego sports, now known as SDCCU Stadium, is being demolished. It has been dying a slow death with the NFL Chargers’ 2016 departure for Los Angeles following the MLB San Diego Padres’ 2004 move to a baseball-only park in downtown San Diego.
“The Murph,” its nickname for when Jack Murphy Stadium was named for the San Diego sports editor responsible for the Chargers moving there, was a 70,000-seat venue where Air Coryell, Junior Seau and LaDanian Tomlinson thrilled the city as the Chargers’ catchy theme song blared throughout the concrete monster.
In the old-school ways of multi-sport facilities, the Friars Road stadium would be retrofitted for Padres baseball and became a second birthplace for hometown hero Tony Gwynn and home base for the San Diego Chicken mascot.
“We didn’t even have one last house party for the place,” the man inside The Chicken, 67-year-old Ted Giannoulas, told The Associated Press. “To see ‘The Murph’ being taken apart like that is a letdown, to be polite. I saw it as the heart of the town, the spirit of San Diego.”
The freeway-side plot of land will still house a stadium. San Diego State University, which bought 132 acres of the 166-acre site in 2018, is building a more modern, reasonably sized stadium with 35,000 seats in the space next to the rubble.
In an unfitting tribute, Iowa won the final game played at the stadium, beating USC in last year’s Holiday Bowl. Keep the memories of when the stadium shook for a high-scoring Chargers game, the Padres’ 1998 World Series, Marshall Faulk’s dominant San Diego State career, and when it filled without a game – for the Chargers’ welcome home after losing on their only Super Bowl trip.