SDSU drops out of San Diego MLS plan, would rather use stadium land itself

How’s that whole plan going to build a San Diego soccer stadium on the site of the Chargers‘ old stadium that would double as San Diego State University’s football stadium, using no public money except for, oh yeah, about $240 million in public money? Not well at all, if the SDSU part was important to anybody:

San Diego State made their position clear Tuesday afternoon, releasing a statement that announced that they will no longer engage in discussions with FS Investors, whose plans are to build an MLS stadium that would be shared by the SDSU football team…

“While SDSU’s current campus footprint of 238 acres is sufficient to support the University’s aspirations in the short term, we have long-articulated the need for more space for the advancement of the University over the next 50 years. The Mission Valley opportunity is a once-in-a-generation chance for SDSU to expand its research, tech transfer, collaboration space and other future needs, as we continue to ascend toward becoming a top 50 public research institution.

Translated: That’s a nice piece of property you’ve got there, and we’d way rather have it for ourselves rather than having to share with a soccer team. Which, maybe that’s a better use of land, maybe it’s not — we’d need to see, and hopefully the San Diego city council will demand to see, some kind of cost-benefit analysis to determine what’s the best use of the site. This doesn’t necessarily kill the soccer plan by any means, but it’s certainly not going to help the push for a public referendum in favor of it this fall when voters ask, “So this will give SDSU’s football team a place to play, too, right?” and canvassers have to reply, “Um, have we mentioned that soccer is growing in popularity among well-off millennials?”

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14 comments on “SDSU drops out of San Diego MLS plan, would rather use stadium land itself

  1. Living in a different corner of the country, I’m not sure why SDSU would have a need to vacate Qualcomm Stadium in the first place. Playing in a stadium with a capacity of 54,000, the Aztecs averaged over 37,000 attendees per game in 2016, with three crowds of more than 41,000. For a program in a second-tier conference like the MWC, that’s pretty damned good and with the Chargers gone to LA, I’d have to think that the numbers would increase now that SDSU will be the only game in town (apologies to USD).

    I guess my question is what would SDSU gain by sharing a smaller stadium with an (as-yet-unrewarded) MLS franchise? Is rent at Qualcomm that onerous? Is Qualcomm inadequate for a Mountain West program? I honestly don’t see the need for a new stadium for Aztecs football.

    1. “UnAWARDED MLS franchise.” Good thing I was an English major or I’d never have caught that.

    2. College football attendance has gone down 7 straight years. You take out those rare games when attendance spiked and the team is well under 30k a game. The new stadium would sit 30k. It was a done deal with the college administration until the gridiron meatheads started crying about their unrealistic dreams of big time football.

      1. I don’t read this as having anything to do with wanting a bigger stadium. It’s more “If anybody’s going to be making a land grab here, it’s gonna be *us*!”

        1. You are correct. And, in response to Dr. Gringo, the Q requires millions of dollars in repairs because the City of San Diego negotiated dreadful leases and is a lousy landlord to boot. More importantly, the city spends $12-$15 million annually to operate the stadium and the city council wants that expenditure to end sooner than later. So, the message from the city implies that unless SDSU offers to take over those costs, the Q is coming down after the 2018 season even if the Soccer City referendum fails.

          1. To clarify – the city spends $12-$15 million more than it receives in rents and other stadium-associated income. So the cost to SDSU would presumably be greater than that. It would be an absolutely ridiculous use of student and/or taxpayer funds unless they have millions to devote to repairing and renovating the stadium.

        2. Your right ! However before this went public the head of administration was 100% on board with a shared stadium and even made reference to falling attendance. That’s when the gridiron dreamers started complaining about size of stadium being a barrier to big time football. Now its become a total land grab to pacify the meatheads.

    3. The agreement for renting Q is set to expire soon. 2018 or 19 I believe. I heard the SDSU athletic director say on the radio they are in communication with the city to further the lease and agreed to terms verbally and the city has not moved forward in putting those terms on paper.

  2. Being a San Diego resident and driving by the Q daily has piqued my interest in the Soccer City plan. The Q is very likely going to be demolished regardless of whether there is a plan for it or not in place by the end of 2018. Upkeep on the Q is expensive and the place isn’t worth dumping money into it to renovate.

    I think Neil’s reading is right in it really is SDSU wanting the entire area to create SDSU West. The Q sits on the same trolley line that services SDSU with only one or two stops between them. I think SDSU really sees the Q’s current space as their best chance to expand since the current campus is reaching capacity without expanding UP. But they’re other large developers eyeing the land as well, and opposing Soccer City, so SDSU will likely need to strike a deal with someone. And with Q coming down they’ll need a new stadium or give up the pigskin.

    To me, Soccer City seems the best partner to get SDSU football a new home and an additional campus footprint (just not the entire area), this probably is a negotiating ploy to try to wring some more concessions out of Soccer City and/or the City.

    1. SDSU can build a smaller footprint stadium on the currrent Jack Murphy site and have plenty of room for additional campus buildings.

      In the interim, a football field can be pigeonholed into the downtown baseball stadium.

      1. SDSU has no plan to actually acquire the land under the Q; at least none that it has shared with the public. To date, they are asking for an open RFP process which, assuming it follows a failed November vote on Soccer City, doesn’t leave much time for bidding, award and construction. The Padres have offered to host SDSU football for one season (2019), but are balking at extending any agreement longer than one year because of the overlap between the baseball season and the college football season. One presumes money could persuade the Padres to be more amenable.

        1. Not sure but one of Padres current or former owners might be part of the Soccer City proposal. SDsu might end up shooting themselves in the foot.

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