In the center of Mission Valley stands San Diego’s newest sports venue: Snapdragon Stadium, the new SDSU Football Stadium. Located on SDSU’s expansion campus, it replaced the aging Jack Murphy/Qualcomm/SDCCU Stadium, much to both the chagrin and the excitement of locals.
The new location opened in the summer of 2022 to great fanfare (and infamous heat), welcoming thousands of excited San Diegans through its gates to enjoy professional and collegiate sports.
Like all large sporting arenas, Snapdragon has plenty to offer visitors of all ages. This handy guide should answer most questions you have about the place.
Snapdragon Stadium Events & Tickets
The San Diego State Football Stadium doesn’t just host SDSU Aztec games, of course, but a wide array of events, including Monster Jam, concerts, other sporting events and more. Check the schedule here and book tickets in advance: Snapdragon Stadium Events & Tickets
When choosing seats, remember the stadium runs north to south. The east side will experience sun all day, while end zone areas provide cheaper if somewhat diminished, views without having to stare into the sun.
The west side seats enjoy perpetual shade after the early afternoon and have become my favorite when attending games as a result. No seats have bad sight lines, and none are obstructed, though. Since restrooms and concessions abound, which seats you choose comes down to personal preference.
A large, ultra-modern rectangle of steel and concrete, Snapdragon Stadium presents the ultimate in modern sporting venues. It boasts clean lines, large open spaces, and plenty of varied seating and standing-room areas from which to enjoy games and concerts — a far cry from the monochromatic monolith it replaced.
Between the stands of the SDSU stadium, spectators can also view the surrounding valley escarpments, a dramatic background to the action on the field.
It holds fewer patrons than an MLB or NFL stadium — roughly 35,000 spectators — making it a much more intimate, cozy spot. Attendees feel very close to the action on the field, and I can only imagine how great a concert sounds!
While beautiful, the place provides very, very little shade, either in the concourse or in the seating bowl. Make sure to slather on sunscreen, drink plenty of water, and wear a hat with sunglasses.
A main concourse on the ground level, as well as two upper concourses on the east and west sides, hold multiple bars, restaurants, and guest service stations. Several high-roller suites on both sides of the park provide incredible luxury packages.
A large shop in the southeastern corner sells gear for showing team pride and numerous water bottles, sunblock, and the like for enjoying the games.
The surrounding lots will eventually house classrooms, dormitories, shops, restaurants, and an elegant park along the riverfront. Now, however, these spaces contain little apart from open green spaces and parking lots, which such buildings will consume.
Snapdragon Stadium Teams
The stadium primarily hosts San Diego State’s Aztecs football team, whose colors, regalia, and murals abound throughout and why it is also often referred to as the “Aztec Stadium San Diego”. Even the 35,000 seats come in red, black, and grey, echoing this team’s predominance.
Additionally, this will be the new stadium for San Diego State’s college football team. San Diego State University has begun using the field for other sports, too, such as its soccer teams.
Professional sporting teams have similarly come to call Snapdragon home. This summer, the San Diego Wave, a recent National Women’s Soccer expansion team, broke attendance records before a sold-out crowd. They continue to dazzle supporters as they head into the playoffs.
The San Diego Loyal, a minor-league men’s soccer team, have eyed the stadium as new tenants. Whether or not they make the move remains to be seen, despite many fans pushing for the move, which could propel the Loyal into Major League Soccer status. One can hope, at any rate.
Beginning with the new season in 2023, San Diego’s Major League Rugby team, the Legion, have scheduled a move to this location from the SDSU Sport Deck, hopefully increasing their visibility and fanbase.
For a full list of San Diego’s sports teams, check out: Do You Know These “Other” San Diego Sports Teams.
Snapdragon Stadium Events
Moving forward, the future seems bright for this impressive location. Numerous bands and singers have recently scheduled concerts, which will only increase as the stadium matures. Other events, such as Monster Jam and similar traveling exhibitions, will also pass through its gates in the coming months.
In years to come, the stadium will begin holding world-class competitions. In summer 2023, Snapdragon — alongside USD’s Torero Stadium and the SDSU Sport Deck — plans to host the Lacrosse World Series, featuring national teams from some 30 countries. I already have my tickets, so get yours soon.
The stadium is currently vying to host the 2031 Men’s Rugby World Cup and 2033 Women’s Rugby World Cup, likewise featuring dozens of international teams. While not yet definite, such attention demonstrates the capabilities and prestige of this new location.
In the future, it could put on any number of competitions and become a centerpiece for San Diego sports.
Snapdragon offers a surprising variety of food whose quality parallels (or surpasses) that found at Petco Park, Pechanga Arena, or Torero Stadium. Fans can find the standards, such as pretzels, hot dogs, and nachos at Stadium Eats locations spread throughout the park.
Seats inside the bowl are very narrow, so I suggest eating outside of the seating bowl. All concourses have open areas with tables, some even with shaded regions, for dining and drinking. Take advantage of these before moving back to the seats.
In addition, multiple bars scattered throughout the place deliver plenty of liquid refreshment. Of special note: Two complete bars — which also had plenty of standing room from which to view the games — nestle into the opposite corners of the upper concourse.
I also rather liked the Locals Only stands, which sell only San Diego-brewed beverages.
More adventurous eaters can seek out a plethora of good food options from local eateries around the county. Despite offering shorter menus, the quality remains second to none. Specifically, the Crack Shack provides chicken sandwiches, and Cali BBQ — my personal recommendation on this list — has some delicious barbecue meats and tasty picnic sides.
The Taco Stand sells some of the best, quick tacos in the county, while Sandbar’s fish tacos stand out. For those in more of a classic mood, Hodad’s burgers, Gaglione Brothers steak sandwiches, Tarantino sausages, and Best Pizza & Brewing all offer their specialties.
Finally, diners can’t beat Batch and Box for excellent deserts, or EverBowl for chilled acai treats after all that greasy goodness.
Spaces accommodate food trucks from San Diego, too, which rounds out the lineup of food options. These will rotate throughout the season and generate much-needed novelty throughout the seasons.
Grass-covered berms encircle the stadium, perfect for family picnics in the afternoons, or groups can always tailgate.
Getting To Snapdragon Stadium
As the stadium sits in the center of Mission Valley, fans can easily reach it via several freeways. These include the 8, 163, and 15, while Friars Road connects directly with the site.
Multiple parking lots exist at present with varying price tiers on land previously used by Qualcomm for its lots. However, this should change as other buildings and parking garages rise on that land. Just like at Qualcomm, visitors can face traffic jams entering and leaving, so, if at all possible, avoid driving.
Instead, take the Trolley, by far the easiest travel option. San Diego’s green line has a station less than 100 yards from the entrance gate and charges $2.50 for each one-way trip. Riders activate tickets at trolley entrances, and validation lasts for two hours.
North County residents can take the blue line from UTC and transfer at Old Town. East County fans can ride the green line from Santee or the orange line from El Cajon. While those downtown or in South County can ride the green or blue lines from those locations, respectively.
Trains run every fifteen minutes — more frequently just before and after games — and make getting to games so much simpler. Don’t forget that most stations outside downtown San Diego have installed free parking.
Things To Do Near Snapdragon Stadium
Unfortunately, very few other buildings stand near Snapdragon. This will change as San Diego State University expands its presence in Mission Valley, but that remains years in the future. For now, a couple of chain restaurants exist near the IKEA and Home Depot just west of the stadium.
Alternatively, those taking the trolley can build in a dining or shopping experience prior to or after attending a game.
Mission Valley supports multiple malls, including Hazard Center and Fashion Valley, for example, with easy parking options and convenient access to the green line.
The blue line now begins at UTC, with all its restaurants, and the trolley passes through both Old Town and the Gaslamp District, giving even more potential for a full day out. Just make sure to factor in transit time when making these plans.
A beautiful stadium worthy of such a beautiful area, Snapdragon Stadium has created an experience that rivals any venue I can remember, with easy access for anyone in the area.
Its smaller size makes the entire place accessible, with great views throughout, and the quality and variety of concessions make it something of a destination.
The pageantry on display, as with all major sporting and entertainment events, is stellar, and I cannot recommend this spot highly enough.