Environment Report: The Chargers Stadium’s Circle of Life

Science/Environment

Environment Report: The Chargers Stadium’s Circle of Life

Most of the former stadium is slated to be recycled and used as fill on the new site or as a base for roads, the city of San Diego plans to raise wastewater rates and more in our biweekly roundup of environmental news.

Mission Valley stadium
The last remaining section of San Diego’s Mission Valley stadium was torn down on March 22, 2021. / Photo by Megan Wood

As an outsider, I’ve witnessed the effect that the teardown of the old Chargers stadium has had on San Diegans. The final seating section fell last week — a symbol of all the team’s disappointments and a fandom that defied them.

Though the Chargers left San Diego for Los Angeles in 2017 — abandoning its fans for another family like a deadbeat dad — much of the former stadium’s materials will be recycled back into the San Diego State University’s Aztec stadium.

Herein lies the environmental angle.

The day the last seating section fell (March 22) marked the last heartbreaking defeat of the Chargers in San Diego. I’m told it feels like a Catholic wake where we think about the good times — the tailgating, a drunken celebration of life – and the bad times — the devastating art of loss the Chargers perfected.

But for those of you still struggling to grapple with this loss deep down, I want you to know, even though SDSU is erecting a new one, your Chargers stadium is still here … but in a Lion King “Circle of Life” kind of way.

Ninety percent of the former stadium will be recycled in some way, confirmed Gina Jacobs, associate vice president of the Mission Valley Development at the site now owned by SDSU. The “crushing” of the old stadium’s concrete just began in March and it’ll take several months before it’s complete, she said. Much of it will be used as fill on the site or as a base for roads.

Some big slabs of concrete will be used to create flagstone-like pads along the new river park being built as part of the massive development. In essence, you’ll someday be able to take your lunch on a picnic bench, resting your feet on the remains of the Chargers stadium.

The asphalt from the huge old parking lot is being reused for the new stadium and park as well.

The bones of the stadium — the copper, steel and rebar — are being laid to rest at a recycling facility. One can only guess where those emotionally charged materials may go next.

There was a bunch of old Chargers stadium stuff up for auction on this website. I really wish I had known that earlier. Those zippy little utility carts used to carry people and Gatorade around the field would have made a sick little beach cruiser.

To close, I won’t say I pretend to really understand such NFL abandonment. As a Wisconsinite, I know the Packers will never leave me because its fans have full custody over their team. In other words, it’s the only publicly owned NFL franchise in the country. Something for San Diego to consider.

In Other News

  • The city of San Diego announced it will raise wastewater rates by 5 percent in January, in part to pay for the multibillion-dollar wastewater-to-drinking water project called Pure Water. Water rates will also rise by 2 percent starting in 2022.
  • The San Diego Association of Governments announced it got $10.5 million more from the state to help pay for repairs to its ever-crumbling oceanside bluffs.
  • Mayor Todd Gloria appointed a representative for a huge labor group that builds water systems to the board of the San Diego County Water Authority, which makes decisions on what to build to ensure drinking water security in the region. (Voice of San Diego)
  • Climate change legislation is back on the menu, boys. State Sen. Toni Atkins proposed putting sea level rise planning front and center at state agencies, noting bluff collapses in Del Mar. (Voice of San Diego)
  • San Diego beachgoers might see more electric blue waves as scientists expect a bioluminescence bloom spotted further north to make its way here. (Union-Tribune)
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