Rededication Ceremony Planned for October 3

Long before Qualcomm Stadium was even a dream, San Diego State’s football team fought to victory in Aztec Bowl.  The historic venue was dedicated October 3, 1936 and celebrates its 75th anniversary with a rededication ceremony set for noon on Monday, October 3 at the start of homecoming week.  The event is open to the public.

Pre-Dedication of Aztec Bowl
Historic photo of Aztec Bowl construction.
The ceremony will take place north of Viejas Arena in the northeast corner of lot L.  It will center around the unveiling of a restored brass plaque recently returned to the office of Anthropology Department Chairman Seth Mallios.

“We wanted to reinstall the plaque on that anniversary date because we thought it would be the perfect way to help kick off homecoming week,” said Mallios of the rededication.  “This will be a fun thing just to remind folks of the prominent role that Aztec Bowl played in San Diego State history."

The heavy brass marker, which turned up bound in masking tape, bears an inscription that reads, 'Built by United States Works Progress Administration 1938.'  According to Mallios, it commemorates additional work that was done on the stadium in the years following its opening in 1936.

The plaque had gone missing in 1995 around the time Aztec Bowl was being partially demolished to make way for construction of the facility now known as Viejas Arena at Aztec Bowl.  Mallios said the person who took the marker and returned it to his office years later feared it would be lost forever if someone failed to protect it.

Construction of Aztec Bowl
Excavation of Aztec Bowl site circa 1935.
In fact, the returned plaque is one of the few original markers from Aztec Bowl that has ever been rediscovered.  A few years ago, a bronze plaque commemorating President Kennedy’s 1963 commencement speech at the stadium was taken and has never been found.


Aztec Bowl has a rich history.  The old football stadium was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1994.  In addition to President Kennedy’s appearance there, the venue has played host to all sorts of memorable occasions.

“We have every kind of event,” said Mallios. “The (San Diego County) fair was there one year. (Former San Diego mayor and U.S. senator) Pete Wilson's birthday was there.  Aztec Bowl really occupied just about every cornerstone of San Diego life including football.”  

But, clearly, football was the main purpose of Aztec Bowl.  The 1937 Del Sudoeste yearbook describes the stadium and its dedication in detail:

“Amid speeches delivered by leading citizens, and flowers strewn from an airplane, the bowl was dedicated on October 3, 1936, as our football team won its first game of the season.

“Planned under Dr. E. L. Hardy, president of State until last year when he retired, the dreams of many were realized when the stadium became an entity under President Walter R. Hepner.  

SDSU vs. Oxy in Aztec Bowl
San Diego State vs. Occidental in the first game ever played at Aztec Bowl October 3, 1936. Del Sudoeste yearbook photo.
“Besides its newness, the Aztec Bowl has other distinctive features.  It is the only campus stadium south of Palo Alto, it boasts of one of the finest electric time-clocks on the Pacific coast, and the press box is the finest of any college stadium.  At present the stadium seats 11,000, but eventually 45,000 people will be able to witness future Aztec victories.”

After defeating Occidental 7-0 in the first game ever played at Aztec Bowl, the Aztecs completed a 6-1-1 season and were the Southern California Conference champions.

It’s always good to remember history.  Sometimes it’s good to repeat it.