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Seven years ago, the Arizona Diamondbacks baseball team decided to scrap their outdated Sony Jumbotron for a fancy high-definition model. The old scoreboard was heading for the garbage heap until people in San Diego heard what was going on.
Qualcomm Stadium has a Jumbotron, one so ancient it’s discontinued. Sony doesn’t even make parts for it anymore. So the Diamondbacks’ trash became San Diego’s treasure. San Diego officials shipped the old Jumbotron from Phoenix. There was $1 million worth of parts inside, Qualcomm Stadium Manager Mike McSweeney said. The city bought the scoreboard for $15,000 and is ready to scavenge it when needed.
“We shrink-wrapped it and it’s in dry storage,” McSweeney said.
The tale of the second-hand Jumbotron perfectly encapsulates what’s wrong with Qualcomm Stadium. The building isn’t in danger of falling down. It’s just old and ragged.
Four years ago, a consultant walked through the stadium, which was built in 1967, and pointed out all the things that were broken or in danger of falling apart. The total price tag for the repairs was $79.8 million. At $9.6 million, a new scoreboard was one of the biggest items on the list.
But it’s not like an outdated scoreboard threatens the lives of football fans. The only thing the consultant said critically endangered stadium operations was some exposed wiring that cost $1,500 to repair. The rest of the fixes were for things like the scoreboard – stuff that was old, shabby and hard to replace if it broke.
The city has repaired the wiring, McSweeney said, though other big problems have arisen since the consultant’s report came out. Pieces of concrete throughout the stadium are flaking and could be dangerous if they break. Metal is rusting. And the structures needed to cushion the stadium as it settles into the ground need some adjustments. The city is patching these problems for hundreds of thousands of dollars. It’s not spending the millions it would need to permanently repair the place.
The stadium also has a reputation as one of the shoddiest in the league. Cris Collinsworth, an NBC analyst and former NFL player, was one of the latest to take a shot at Qualcomm. In a January interview, he called it: “a terrible stadium.”
Here’s a list of the some of the biggest items on Qualcomm’s fix-it list, in the consultant’s order of priority, and what each will cost:
• Replace security cameras stadium-wide, $2.8 million
• Install new lighting, $6.1 million
• Replace all plumbing, $12.1 million
• Replace entire heating, ventilating and air-conditioning system, $11 million
• Replace scoreboard, $9.6 million