Lose Qualcomm Way, Please | Voice of San Diego

Opinion

Lose Qualcomm Way, Please

It’s high time the city of San Diego changed the name of Qualcomm Way in Mission Valley to something other than the name of a stadium that’s been reduced to rubble. The stretch of road named after the Fortune 500 company, Qualcomm, doesn’t lead to it in the first place.

The site of the former Qualcomm Stadium. / Photo by Adriana Heldiz

It’s high time the city of San Diego changed the name of Qualcomm Way in Mission Valley to something other than the name of a stadium that’s been reduced to rubble.      

The name is ridiculous. The stretch of road named after the Fortune 500 company, Qualcomm, doesn’t lead to it in the first place. The company is based in Sorrento Valley. It’s got to go. And the options for a new, more appropriate name are many:

  •     Boo Chargers Circle      
  •     San Diego Super Chargers Forever Freeway … (When you drive past it, the old fight song plays. That would be cool. And we have the technology.)
  •     Dean Spanos is a Greedy, Bloodsucking, POS who Inherited all of his Wealth Avenue … (It would need to be a big sign.)
  •     Bambi Boulevard? (Only diehard San Diego Charger fans will get that one.)

Qualcomm Way, an exit off Interstate 8, used to be called Stadium Way back when times were simpler. It led to a stadium, which was actually called San Diego Stadium when it was built in 1967. A few years later, the name was changed to Jack Murphy Stadium, in honor of a local sports writer who championed its construction.

But there was no money in that deal. In another time, stadium names honored local figures or our nation’s military – for free. Soldier Field in Chicago is an example. 

Soon, however, somebody figured out you could make money by selling the naming rights. So that led to all sort of stupid stadium names, the latest being SoFi Stadium in Inglewood, which the Chargers rent. (That’s a little shot there.)

Well, that’s what happened to the Murph, which is what the fans soon dubbed the San Diego stadium. It went to the dustbins of history when Qualcomm purchased the naming rights to the stadium for $18 million in 1997. That was done to help pay off a $78 million expansion that the Chargers soon felt was totally inadequate and demanded a new stadium. 

That’s more naming inspiration:

  •     Go to Hell NFL Avenue, perhaps?
  •     Take your Super Bowls and Shove them Where the Sun Don’t Shine Speedway?
  •     Taunting is the Stupidest Penalty Ever Freeway 

(See, so many options.)

Anyway, as part of the deal, the city also changed the name of the exit to Qualcomm Way. Qualcomm was probably thrilled because it paid all that money for naming rights to a stadium that soon became known as “The Q.” Fans call stadiums what they want to. At least the freeway exit name didn’t get shortened.

When the naming rights expired in 2017, the exit was not changed back to Stadium Way. So Qualcomm, arguably, is getting free advertising. I’m not saying it’s the sole reason, but it could be one reason the company has seen a 56 percent increase in chip sales year-over-year.

That’s a pretty popular exit, after all. Condos and apartments are going up everywhere in Mission Valley.

Oddly, the name of the exit was not changed after the Chargers left for Los Angeles or even after the city sold the naming rights to San Diego County Credit Union, and the stadium was rebranded as SDCCU Stadium in 2017.

One problem is that it’s not easy to change a street name. Check out the San Diego Municipal Code regarding this. It’s Chapter 12: Land Development Reviews. It’s Article Five: Subdivision Procedures. It’s Division 11: Naming or Renaming of Public Streets and Other Rights-of-Way.

Who doesn’t love government?

First of all, you need approval from the City Engineer, whoever that is. To do that, you first have to send a petition for the name change to all of the property owners along the street. If 100 percent approve of it, we’re good.

However, if you get less than that 100 percent, it takes City Council approval. Not only does the name have to be deemed appropriate, it can’t “adversely affect” first responders and the postal service.

Also, remember my idea for a Dean Spanos-related exit sign? Well, if you use the first and last name of anyone, you also need City Council approval regardless. Does our council have that kind of guts?

The good news is that there is not a lot of development along Qualcomm Way. Google Maps shows few affected businesses. But will they go along with a new name?

Could Mayor Todd Gloria step in? Well, he once told me at a fundraising event when he was running for mayor he wasn’t much of a sports fan. When he was interim mayor, he bet Denver’s mayor over a playoff game between the Chargers and Broncos. 

The Bolts were nine-point dogs on the road. Yes, the Chargers lost. I’m just glad he bet Mexican food and not a year’s supply of parking meter revenue. If he were a shark, he’d bet that Ash Street building and hope to lose.

There is a sense of urgency here when it comes to the name change. San Diego State University is now the steward of the Mission Valley property and is building a stadium to replace whatever we should call what was the former stadium.

If they lobby for, say, Aztecs Way, that could lead to problems. The Cleveland Indians, for example, will soon go by the name of Cleveland Guardians after a national reckoning on names and symbols being used throughout the country that were racist. The Washington Redskins are now the Washington Football Team.  

I’d hate to see another corporate name on the exit. It’s a good bet SDSU will sell naming rights to the new stadium. It’s already sold naming rights for seating sections to the Sycuan Band of the Kumeyaay Nation for $8 million.  

One report, by VenuesNow, has Snapdragon, which is a division of Qualcomm, purchasing the naming rights. SDSU did not confirm, however.

Still: Snapdragon Circle? 

Oh please no.

Their basketball arena? In 2009, it sold the naming rights to the Viejas Band of Kumeyaay Indians for nearly $7 million.

I reached out to the college and a spokesperson said a name change for Qualcomm Way “is not a discussion at this time.”

I think we should do something to honor the Chargers. They were here for more than 50 years. And they made it to one Super Bowl.

And what else is in Mission Valley that’s cool to name it after?

Bed Bath & Beyond Boulevard?

What do you think?
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