Sign of the Times: Stadium Signs Inspire Good Memories for Fowler Grad

November 3, 2020
John and Billie McAvoy with one of the H4 signs.

John and Billie McAvoy with one of the H4 signs. 

Breaking ground on SDSU Mission Valley on August 17 was an exciting day for many San Diego State University football fans who have been anticipating the opening of new Aztec Stadium (expected, fall 2022). With construction beginning, SDCCU Stadium will be torn down in the coming months to make way for a new era for the university and Aztec football. This moment in history has also had fans reminiscing on the many memories from events that took place during the old stadium’s 50+ year history.

John McAvoy, who graduated with a degree in management from the Fowler College of Business in 1982, saw many games at the old stadium when it served as the home for the Padres, Chargers and Aztec football. He recalled many fond memories spent inside the stadium and was inspired to help make the new stadium a reality with a generous donation to the Stadium Excellence Fund. The fund provides philanthropic support to the future Aztec multi-use stadium site and SDSU Mission Valley project. In recognition of John and his wife’s generosity, SDSU was able to thank the couple with a memento from the old stadium – the H4 parking lot location signs where the two staged tailgate gatherings with 40-45 friends for nearly 30 years.

McAvoy is currently the president of McAvoy & Markham Engineering & Sales Co. Founded by his father, Frank, in 1981, it serves as a manufacturers’ representative specializing in electrical supplies and components used by electric utility companies.

Tailgate gatherings have been a San Diego tradition for many years, with some tailgaters attending gatherings with the same group through several generations. This was the case for McAvoy’s tailgate group. “There was already a tailgate group at H4 when we started going around 1988,” said McAvoy. “I had a customer who told me about the tailgate group, so my wife, Billie, and I joined one day and we never left until the Chargers did.”

Though the tailgate group disbanded after the Chargers left for Los Angeles following the 2016 season, the McAvoy’s continued to attend SDSU football games through the 2019 season, which was the Aztec’s final game at the stadium before it was scheduled to be demolished. 

Shortly after construction started in September 2020, McAvoy said he was driving by the stadium and it dawned on him just how many good memories the old stadium held for him and his wife. He knew he wanted to be a part of the new Aztec Stadium and Mission Valley project, and is truly grateful to have received the H4 tailgate signs in recognition for his generosity.

Now in possession of the three signs, McAvoy plans to use them in various ways, including fundraising events for the San Diego Nice Guys Club, where he serves as the chair of the fun committee. He is looking forward to when he can share them with the tailgate group. “I think one will go to the friend who was a team leader for the H4 group; she’ll love it,” he said. “One will be in our backyard with lighting on it. I’ll keep the third for parties when we all have a chance to get together again. It’ll be a kick – can’t wait to see the faces.”

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