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BEFORE IMAGE: One of Rick Brady's colleagues who worked on the original stadium construction in 1965 gifted him original photos. AFTER: Drone image of Snapdragon Stadium.

Twice in a Lifetime: SDSU Alumnus Attends Two Opening Days, 55 Years Apart

Rick Brady (‘80) will be one of the lucky few who can say he was at the opening game for San Diego Stadium and the new Snapdragon Stadium.
By Melinda Sevilla

Where were you on August 20, 1967?

Richard “Rick” Brady (‘80) remembers. As a 10-year-old, Brady drove down the hill from his house to the opening game at the brand new San Diego Stadium, as the San Diego Chargers played the Detroit Lions.

Fifty-five years later, the memory is crystal clear in Brady’s mind. He remembers bringing in a bucket of Kentucky Fried Chicken to snack on.

“I remember exactly where we sat – it was on the upper deck, looking east toward the scoreboard,” said the San Diego State University civil engineering alumnus.

The opening game in 1967 marked the first season where the American Football League (AFL) and the National Football League (NFL) played each other during the preseason, leading up to the merger of the leagues in 1970. 

“I didn’t miss a game in person as we could just walk down the hill to buy tickets in person.” Tickets cost a steep $4.50 for general admission.  

The result of the historic opening game? “They lost. Badly,” said Brady. “Everyone was bummed because it was our chance to show the NFL who was the better league.”

Tomorrow, he’ll attend opening day at Snapdragon Stadium – the second Mission Valley stadium opening he’ll have attended in his lifetime. 

Today, Rick Brady is CEO and founder of his own water engineering company, Richard Brady & Associates. Over his impressive 42-year career, Brady has been internationally recognized for his engineering contributions to large municipal water projects serving safe drinking water to millions of people around the world.  

While Brady attended Cubberley Elementary School in San Diego’s Serra Mesa neighborhood in 1965, the strawberry fields down the hill from his house became the construction ground for what would become San Diego Stadium. 

“I watched the construction as a 10-year-old from my Sting-Ray bike,” he said. “We would ride around the construction site on a regular basis during the summers leading up to the first game.”

“Football was my passion, hence my over-the-top interest in the Chargers and Aztecs in 1967,” said Brady, who was recognized as Clairemont High School’s MVP quarterback in 1973.

Left: Rick Brady in 1967, around the time when he first visited then-San Diego Stadium. Right: Brady's headshot as CEO for his company, Richard Brady & Associates.


Despite that initial opening day loss, Brady faithfully rode his bike down and back up the steep hill between his house and the stadium. He watched Chargers, Aztecs, and Padres games and events, even attending Aztec football games from the press box; his neighbor at the time’s father was a sports writer for the San Diego Union-Tribune.

The Stadium became a lifelong retreat for Brady. Over the years, he was able to attend countless games, concerts, and functions there, through changes to Mission Valley and name changes to the stadium (Jack Murphy, Qualcomm, SDCCU).

He calls the life of the stadium the “bookends” of his life. “I didn’t think it would come down in my lifetime because you’ve got to be old enough to see that. I spent so much time in that stadium.” 

Snapdragon was designed to pay homage to and honor the long legacy of the stadium. It holds many “easter eggs,” as SDSU’s Director of Collegiate Athletics John David Wicker refers to them, including the statue of sports writer Jack Murphy and a courtyard area displaying pieces of the old Qualcomm concrete. 

He also saved the opening game’s 1967 program, he says, “for posterity.” That posterity will come to a head September 3 when he returns to Mission Valley for the opening of the new Snapdragon Stadium and cheers on Aztec Football as they compete against the Arizona Wildcats. He’s looking forward to attending SDSU’s Chi Epsilon Engineering honor society at Snapdragon next month, a club in which he once served as president.

Brady now lives in the Kensington neighborhood of San Diego, on a hill with a vantage point overlooking the stadium opposite the view he grew up with. 
“San Diego is the best place on the planet,” says Brady. “Seeing Snapdragon will really be full circle for me.”