The first football season in nearly 60 years in which San Diego won’t have a professional football team begins Saturday with San Diego State and the University of San Diego playing their home openers.
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The Aztecs could be starting their penultimate season in their longtime Mission Valley home when they host UC Davis at 5:30 p.m. Now that the Chargers have moved to Los Angeles, the city of San Diego hopes to close the money- losing stadium at the end of 2018.
While SDSU officials are confident they will have a place to play in 2019 and beyond, no specific arrangements have been made. They hope to get a two-year lease extension with the city to give them time to build a new stadium, and an SDSU spokeswoman said negotiations are continuing.
The Padres have also dangled the possibility of the Aztecs playing one season at Petco Park.
The future of the Mission Valley property on which the stadium sits also remains unsettled. A group of La Jolla-based investors has qualified a ballot measure that, if passed, would allow them to build a smaller stadium, park land, housing, offices and commercial buildings, but discussions with SDSU on sharing the stadium and other facilities broke down amid acrimony.
The ballot measure will likely go before voters in November of next year. SDSU officials are working on an alternative plan but have so far only publicly released a list of aspirations.
What’s likely to get resolved first is the name of the stadium. With Qualcomm’s naming rights having expired, several entities have reportedly expressed interest in displaying their name for the next 16 months.
Fox Sports College Properties, which is handling the naming rights issue, plans to present proposed names to city officials on Tuesday.
Even what will happen on the field Saturday is uncertain.
UC Davis enters the season with a new coaching staff, prompting Aztecs head coach Rocky Long to tell reporters that he didn’t know what to expect from the Aggies. SDSU, coming off a pair of 11-3 seasons and two Mountain West championships, is breaking in young starters in the secondary, along the offensive line and at wide receiver.
The stadium will offer a more Aztec-centric look, with the school’s logo at midfield and the words “San Diego State” and “Aztecs” painted in the end zones.
The KBG Sky Show 42 fireworks spectacular is scheduled after the game.
A crowd of more than 50,000 is expected, so SDSU encourages fans to use public transportation and arrive early. The Metropolitan Transit System said more frequent Green Line trolley service will begin at 2:30 p.m. from the Gaslamp Station to the stadium, and will continue after the Sky Show in both directions as long as necessary.
USD will host Western New Mexico at 2 p.m. at Torero Stadium. The Toreros are coming off a 10-2 season in which they won the Pioneer Football League championship and advanced to the second round of the Football Championship Subdivision playoffs.
—City News Service
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