This post originally appeared in the Nov. 9 Politics Report. Get the Politics Report delivered to your inbox.

The Friends of SDSU group has begun running ads on social media asking followers to pressure the San Diego City Council to accept the university’s purchase offer for the stadium land in Mission Valley.

The video on Instagram touts all the efforts the university has gone through to make sure the public was on board with its concepts and plans. And among the accomplishments it’s most proud of is … NEW STADIUM RENDERINGS!

NEW STADIUM RENDERINGS! is quite a thing to champion producing in this town, San Diego, which is known as the world’s foremost producer of stadium renderings. To review: San Diego is known for fish tacos, telecommunications technology, craft beer and stadium renderings.

Naturally, we decided this was a perfect time for a brief history of stadium renderings in San Diego.

2003: The Chargers started pursuing a Mission Valley stadium. Like SDSU, they wanted the land and then they would build a stadium with all the money they made from building condos on the land. (See! The more time goes on, the more nothing changes, ever.) But there was a problem, they couldn’t get a development partner. The city’s politics were a mess and the team gave up.

But we got this watercolor rendering.

Image courtesy of city of San Diego

2007: The Chargers turned their eyes to Chula Vista and produced this vision of a South Bay stadium.

Just kind of a zoomed-in version of what they imagined in Mission Valley.

2010: Having explored South Bay, Oceanside and Escondido, the Chargers set their sights on downtown San Diego and though they had insisted for years that they needed 20 acres of land for the stadium, they figured they could cram it into 10 acres instead. This was the worst rendering over the last 20 years. It was the very least effort possible to show it would fit.

2012: The Chargers made an abrupt change and, despite years of insisting that they did not need a new tax increase to fund a stadium, they very much did need a new tax increase. And since the only tax increase that showed any promise was a hotel-room tax hike for a Convention Center expansion, they decided that’s what they wanted. And so was born the idea of a stadium that could also serve as a convention center, and this is when San Diego really hit its stride in production of stadium renderings.

JMI Realty produced a vision of what a joint project — a convadium, if you will — would look like. It was like a stadium with a rectangular tumor on its side.

The Chargers and JMI Realty’s vision for a joint-use convention center and stadium. / Image courtesy of JMI Realty

2016: The city and county did not want this, and so they tried to persuade the NFL to not let the Chargers move to Los Angeles and instead embrace this vision of a stadium in Mission Valley with a “shimmering kinetic façade,” that’s how famed sports announcer Dick Enberg described it in a video about how great San Diego was and how great its stadium would be.

In the video, Enberg says that “the passion for our city is nonpareil.” That’s a word, it turns out.

Anyway, the San Diego stadium renderings industry had taken a major leap from watercolors to this. You can feel the football just blazing through your retinas.

Image courtesy of the city of San Diego

2016: But the Chargers were still stuck on downtown and the convadium. So we got another rendering of a stadium with a boxy tumor attached to it.

Rendering courtesy of MANICA Architecture

This produced perhaps the best rendering of the century. See, you could have a stadium. But you could have a stadium that could also host a boat show. What better way to show the versatility of the facility than to show how many boats it could fit?

Rendering courtesy MANICA Architecture

That is a lot of boats.

Finally, the Chargers left.

2017: SoccerCity. The San Diego renderings industry took another step in its graphics with a very heavy emphasis on right angles.

Rendering courtesy of FS Investors

That didn’t work out! The electorate did not like those right angles.

2019: SDSU won and gave us some old school watercolors until, until we got the final batch.

This, San Diego, is the rendering. It’s the winner of this special, 16-year tournament.

Image courtesy San Diego State University

It has been a long trip for the San Diego stadium renderings industry. It’s sad to see it end.

But … maybe it will never end?

Scott Lewis oversees Voice of San Diego’s operations, website and daily functions as Editor in Chief. He also writes about local politics, where he frequently...

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