Editor’s note: San Diego State aims to build its new 35,000-seat stadium in time for the football team’s season opener against Arizona — Sept. 3, 2022 — which is now 669 days away. The Union-Tribune will do monthly updates tracking the stadium’s progress.

To the uninitiated watching development of San Diego State’s Mission Valley stadium site, it appears dirt is being pushed over here, then over there, then back over here again.

“It’s like, ‘Good grief, they just keep moving the same dirt,’ ” said John David Wicker, SDSU’s director of athletics. “But there’s a reason. There’s a method to the madness. …

“They are shifting dirt on the site just because you have to agitate it to then compact it and ensure that you then don’t have settlement issues.”

The footprint for the $310 million stadium in the northwest corner of the 135-acre property has begun to take shape in the nearly three months since SDSU took ownership.

One of the notable developments in November is preparing of stone column ground improvements to help with soil stabilization. The most notable visual element should come next month, when pouring of the foundation is scheduled to begin. The first quarter of 2021 is when the stadium should start to take shape with vertical construction.

In the meantime, much of the onsite action is taking place at SDCCU Stadium, where “abatement” has begun.

“Abatement means you start removing all of the items out of the stadium that you don’t want in it when you knock it down,” Wicker said. “So think about cabling, copper wire, PVC pipe, anything that is environmentally dangerous … oil, coolants.

“You have to think about if you have any asbestos in the building, getting rid of that. So basically going in and pulling out as much as you possibly can so that when you start knocking it down, there’s very little work to separate the concrete from rebar and things like that.”

Those eager to see the stadium imploded will be disappointed to know it will not be dynamited and crumble onto itself in a cloud of dust.

“We really looked at that, but those air quality standards make it such that it made more sense to take it down in a different way,” said Gina Jacobs, SDSU’s associate vice president for Mission Valley development. “So it will be wrecking-ball style over implosion.

“We’re adjacent to the San Diego River, and we’ve got some environmental sensitivities that we want to be sensitive to, so it made more sense to do it that way.”

Jacobs said the stadium will be taken down “piece-by-piece” and that likely won’t be completed until nearly mid-2021.

“Major demolition (will come) in the first quarter of 2021,” Jacobs said. “It will probably take four to six months for it to be completely level. …

“We’re going to take the concrete from the stadium and from the parking lot, grind it up on site and use it as the fill to help lift the site up out of the flood plain. The buildings (on the east side of the property) will eventually go on top of that.”

Part of the abatement process the remainder of this year includes salvaging items that could be sold or will be incorporated into a historical display at the new stadium.

San Diego State is developing a plan to sell seats from SDCCU Stadium to fans.

San Diego State is developing a plan to sell seats from SDCCU Stadium to fans.

(Sam Hodgson / The San Diego Union-Tribune)

SDSU is planning to sell seats and signage to those fans interested in acquiring something from the 53-year-old stadium.

“Our goal is to have the information out in plenty of time for the holidays because we figure that will be something folks may want to give as a gift,” Wicker said.

Complicating the seat sale is that stadium seats are not anchored into the ground secured from the back. So they will need to be fixed to some type of base before being sold to fans.

What other unusual items, if any, will be sold remains to be seen.

In a media tour of the stadium last month, among the items noticed were chairs in the press box, TV sets, signs of everything from aisle markers to a stadium map (Aisle 14 on Plaza is depicted as a Dan Fouts jersey), telephones in the old Padres dugout, wood lockers in the locker rooms, even carpet emblazoned with a lightning bolt in the center of the old Chargers locker room.

“I don’t know how well that would travel because I’m sure it’s glued to the floor,” Wicker said. “I don’t think it’s going to come up real easy.”

Statue of former San Diego Union sports editor Jack Murphy and his dog, Abe of Spoon River, will be relocated to new stadium.

Statue of former San Diego Union sports editor Jack Murphy and his dog, Abe of Spoon River, will be relocated to new stadium.

(Kirk Kenney / San Diego Union-Tribune)

One thing that will be preserved is the statue of former San Diego Union sports editor Jack Murphy and his dog, Abe of Spoon River, which is now located outside Gate K.

“The statue of Jack Murphy, we’re going to be taking that and actually relocating it to the new stadium,” Jacobs said. “So we’ll be able to recognize the history of this place in our new stadium.

“We want to recognize the site as a whole, from the Kumeyaay, who had their home here along the San Diego River, to the dairy farm (Guglielmetti Dairy) that was here before the stadium was built. All those things we want to be able to recognize in some way.”

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