The Arena Celebrates 20 Years
Viejas Arena | SDSU
Many, if not all, A.S. staff members have fond memories of attending a great concert or cheering on the Aztec basketball teams at Viejas Arena. As the arena turns 20 here’s a short look back at how it all started.
In 1988, the SDSU student body approved a fee for construction and operation of the Student Activity Center — the Viejas Arena and Aztec Recreation Center. After several setbacks, ground was broken and construction began in 1995.
The plan was after five years the student fee would be raised and then raised again every five years after that to cover operation costs. But because of the success John Kolek and his staff have had in the operation of the arena, the fee has never been raised. (John is the only director the arena has ever had!)
At a press conference on July 24, 1997, Viejas Arena opened as one of the premier on-campus indoor basketball arenas in the U.S. Its unique design keeps fans close to the floor and part of the action. The facility is the home of San Diego State Basketball and also provides a venue for university functions, cultural events, concerts and other special-event programming.
Until July 1, 2009, the arena's naming rights were owned by Cox Communications and was known as Cox Arena. On March 17, 2009, the Viejas Band of Kumeyaay Indians announced the signing of a 10-year naming rights agreement, which changed the name to Viejas Arena.
The arena is built on the site of the old Aztec Bowl stadium, which was constructed in 1936. The stadium hosted San Diego State football games as well as other athletic, entertainment and cultural events until 1967. Built directly into a canyon hillside, the arena encloses one end of the old horseshoe-shaped Aztec Bowl. Two sections of the stadium's original concrete bleachers and cobblestone walls still frame each side of the arena's north entrance. In addition, SDSU's 10-ton granite boulder, a California landmark commemorating President John F. Kennedy's 1963 commencement address at Aztec Bowl, has also been placed in this area.
Viejas Arena has played host to concerts by a large number of artists — from Simon & Garfunkel to Lady Gaga. In the spring of 2001, Billy Joel and Elton John opened their world tour with a sold-out show at Viejas Arena. For special events and concerts, the venue can become intimate down to 3,000 seats and, depending on the configuration, can accommodate as many as 13,500.
For basketball the arena seats 12,414 enthusiastic fans. After serving as host to the first and second rounds of the NCAA men's basketball championship in 2001, the building was the home of the 2001 NCAA women's volleyball national championship and again played host to the 2006 NCAA men's basketball first and second rounds. In 2009, the NCAA women's basketball first and second rounds graced the Viejas Arena floor and in 2014 the NCAA men's basketball second and third rounds had a return visit. And the arena is next scheduled to host the 2018 and 2022 NCAA men's basketball first and second rounds.In its 20 year history the arena has played host to millions of concertgoers and basketball fans. To learn more about Viejas Arena and to see a list of upcoming shows and events, visit viejasarena.com
John Kolek’s 28 Years
Associate Executive Director
John Kolek started his Associated Students (A.S.) adventure in 1989 when he came to SDSU to build and operate a student activity center. Twenty-eight years later that first step has led him to his current role overseeing operations of the Viejas Arena and Cal Coast Credit Union Open Air Theatre.
During his time with A.S., John has mentored and supervised hundreds, if not thousands, of student employees and full-time staff members. He has created a culture of excellent customer service, instilling in his team the highest of standards. With his soft-spoken manner, John as led by “walking the walk,” always following those same high standards in everything he does.
Over the years, John has developed many important and lasting partnerships both on campus and off. His work with the Aztec Men’s and Women’s Basketball teams and coach Steve Fisher has help to bring national attention to SDSU. He has always made sure that the arena staff was focused on showcasing the teams and university. In 2001 when the arena hosted the first rounds of the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament, it received the highest possible marks from the tournament organizers. And even though the arena does not meet the NCAA’s minimum seating requirements, the tournament came back in 2006, 2014 and will be back again 2018 and 2022, showing the quality service provided by John and his staff.
His leadership in providing excellent customer service and state-of-the-art facilities has strengthened his partnership with Live Nation and TicketMaster, providing SDSU and the San Diego community with a large variety of concerts and events.
Here are just some of the artists who have performed at the Viejas Arena and Cal Coast Credit Union Open Air Theatre under John’s watchful eye, over the past 20 years:
Plus numerous events that happen annually or many times each year:
Jordan Hill’s IPDS Experience
IPDS New Professionals Orientation
Jordan (far left) and colleagues.
Memorial Union Terrace
Earlier this summer, Jordan Hill, Aztec Student Union Operations Supervisor, attended the annual IPDS New Professionals Orientation at the University of Wisconsin, Madison. IPDS is one of the marquee programs hosted by the Association of College Unions International (ACUI) and is a prestigious small-group conference intended for professionals new to the student union field. He also received the ACUI Region I IPDS scholarship, greatly reducing the cost of his attendance and highlighting his involvement in our region and the association as a whole. During his week in Madison, Jordan networked with colleagues in the field, attended professional development courses, and observed and interacted with the staff at the Memorial Union. The Memorial Union is one of the founding members of ACUI and is recognized as both an historical institution and innovator in the field. Highlights for Jordan, among other things, included enjoying the accumulated history and scenic views from the famous Memorial Union Terrace as well as getting to know a core group of his peers from ACUI Region I with members from CSU Dominguez Hills, CSU Long Beach, CSU Northridge, San Jose State, and University of California, Berkeley. According to Jordan, "It was a great privilege to be immersed in the student union field and making memories with such a great group of professionals, thanks to ACUI Region 1 and Associated Students for making it possible for me to attend!"
Submitted by Travis McCauley, Aztec Student Union Operations Coordinator
Cal Coast Credit Union Open Air Theatre
- The first time the Open Air Theatre had a naming rights sponsor was in 2014.
- Recent renovations at the OAT have updated the concourse to be more spacious and accessible for concertgoers.
- In 1985, the then little known rap trio from New York, Beastie Boys, opened for Madonna's debut performance at the Open Air Theatre. Ticket prices were $14-17 a seat.
- This scanned newspaper photo is the only image SDSU has of Martin Luther King Jr.'s historic San Diego State speech.
- “Live Concert Home Video” is a live video album by the English band Sade, released on November 22, 1994 by Epic Records. It was filmed during the last two shows of the band's Love Deluxe World Tour at the Open Air Theatre in October 1993.
Submitted by Nikki Parr, Admin & Marketing Assistant, Viejas Arena & Cal Coast Credit Union Open Air Theatre
Summer of Wellness 2017 Continues
Activities for July 2017
To help you get active this summer, A.S. is providing a series of indoor and outdoor activities to help keep you moving! Here are this month’s events:
Tuesdays, July 11, 18 & 25, 1:00pm, ARC
Hatha Vinyasa Yoga
Tuesdays, July 11, 18 & 25, 6:00pm, Recreation Field
Wednesday, July 12, 5:00pm, Aztec Lanes
Thursdays, July, 13, 20 & 27, 7:30am, Recreation Field
Mondays, July 10, 17, 24 & 31, 12:00pm, Park Blvd., Union
For a full 2017 Associated Students Summer Wellness Calendar of all upcoming events, visit the A.S. Business Services website.
Nate Zaslove, ASUB Program Assistant
- What is your name, job title and major?
Nate Zaslove, ASUB Program Assistant, Theater Major (Emphasis: Acting)
- Which A.S. department do you work in? Describe your job in 25 words or less.
Union Programs and Services: Aztec Student Union Board (ASUB). We work with the Aztec Student Union Board to help plan their events for the students.
- How long have you worked for A.S.?
9 months and 12 days
- What was the last movie you saw? Thumbs up or thumbs down?
“Get Out” directed by Jordan Peele. 100% Thumbs Up.
- If you won $5 million what would you do with it?
I’d buy a tiger.
- Which three people (living or dead) you would like to have dinner with?
Jimmy Fallon, Mac Miller and Rhianna. I look up to them with my goals for my future career. And the chemistry would be hilarious.
- What city would you most like to visit or visit again?
I think I’d go back to New York City. Last time I went there everyone was super upbeat. That city really does not sleep!
- Would you rather build a sandcastle or a snowman?
A snowman. A sandcastle would be too hard. The sand would get everywhere.
- Who is your favorite singer / musician / musical group?
Mac Miller. He is a lyrical genius and all of his tracks are super easy to vibe out to.
- What is your favorite sports team or who is your favorite individual athlete?
San Francisco Giants and my favorite player is Brandon Crawford. His flow is insane and he’s a great shortstop.
- If you could go back or forward in time, where would you go?
I’d go back to the 20’s so I could hang out with Jordan Belfort. He could teach me how to make a lot of money and then I could buy my tiger.
- Who is one of your favorite actors or actresses?
Jonah Hill. He gets into character and his comedic timing is amazing.
- If you could have a superhero power what would it be?
I would want to have super speed. So, on my lunch break I could run to Panda Express and back super quick…you’ve only got 30 minutes.
- What is your favorite part of working for A.S.?
It’s one big family. I love the passion and energy that is always in the office.
- Which A.S. staff member has inspired/supported you the most?
Veronica Perondi and Steve DiPaolo. They have given me a better professional mindset and have let me grow in my job.
at Viejas Arena & Cal Coast Credit Union Open Air Theatre
Sunday, July 9, 7:30p.m., Cal Coast Credit Union Open Air Theatre
Tuesday, July 19, 7:30p.m., Cal Coast Credit Union Open Air Theatre
Retro Futura Tour
with Howard Jones, Paul Young, English Beat, Men Without Hats, Katrina and the Waves and Modern English
Thursday, July 20, 7:00p.m., Cal Coast Credit Union Open Air Theatre
Friday, July 21, 7:30p.m., Cal Coast Credit Union Open Air Theatre
Thursday, July 27, 7:00p.m., Viejas Arena
7/4/2017 - Independence Day, Campus Closed
7/6/2017 - First Day of Classes - Summer Session S2
7/23/2017 - National Hot Dog Day
Today we celebrate one of America's favorite summer sandwiches. Hot dogs are center stage on the grill, and at picnics all across America. They are at the ballpark. They are sold from carts on street corners in every city. We consume hundreds of millions of hot dogs on the Fourth of July alone. We consume so many hot dogs, in so many venues, that the National Hot Dog and Sausage Council hesitates to forecast consumption. But, it does report that each year we buy over 837 million packages of hot dogs at retail outlets, and over 24 million hot dogs at baseball stadiums alone.