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Snapdragon Stadium opens to intense heat; SDSU fans say no place to stay cool

Saturday was supposed to be a day of celebrating the opening of Snapdragon Stadium, but the scorching heat forced San Diego State fans out of their seats and into the shade, with several in need of medical attention due to heat-related illnesses. KPBS reporter Jacob Aere has more.

The San Diego Fire Department said it dispatched multiple units to Snapdragon Stadium on Saturday to treat people suffering from heat-related illnesses.

Over 34,000 people attended the first game at San Diego State University's new home field as a heat wave continues to impact Southern California.

“This stadium is like an open faced sandwich. Literally every square inch of that stadium is exposed to direct sunlight and with the UV index we’ve had this summer, it's just not good,” season ticket holder Kris Golojuch said.


He was at the game with his wife and posted some of what he saw before and during the game to TikTok.

“Right off the bat an ambulance showed up and took away one of our tailgating neighbors, I think he suffered a mild heatstroke,” Golojuch said.

SDSU fan Joel Anderson is also a season ticket holder and was at the game with his family.

He was happy with the overall experience, even though the Aztecs lost 20-38 to the Arizona Wildcats.

Anderson said he prepared for the heat and stayed for all four quarters, but his wife and kids left early.


“It is a brand new stadium so they’re still working out kinks, and it's going to take them a season to work things out,” he said. “I could see them for sure providing more canopies and tables and things like that on a day game that can easily be put up and put away.”

KPBS reached out to the San Diego Fire-Rescue Department for comment and they said they’ll provide data Tuesday on the total number of patients and illnesses reported during the game.

After seeing the way heat can affect football fans first hand, Golojuch hopes there are some long-term solutions at the stadium.

He and his wife spent much of the game trying to find shade, until they left just a few minutes into the third quarter.

“They definitely need to address this with the other sporting events … that they have throughout the year. Because like I said, if we have any soccer games, lacrosse games or anything else that comes to San Diego and wants to use that facility, it's going to be brutal if they're doing anything during the daytime in the later summer months,” Golojuch said.

KPBS reached out to SDSU but they did not respond in time for comment.

The Aztecs play their next home game at 5:00 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 10 against Idaho State. They don't have any more day-time games currently scheduled for the rest of the season.

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KPBS has created a public safety coverage policy to guide decisions on what stories we prioritize, as well as whose narratives we need to include to tell complete stories that best serve our audiences. This policy was shaped through months of training with the Poynter Institute and feedback from the community. You can read the full policy here.