Investors Propose $1B Development Over Qualcomm Stadium
How much does a soccer stadium cost in 2017? $200 Million is the figure being bantered around as Southern California prepares to claim an MLS franchise. One door closes and another opens — San Diegans may not miss their love-them-and-leave-them Chargers who moved north to LA earlier this month — as leaders in soccer prepare to bring a new pro MLS team to America’s finest city.
Ever since the announcement of the San Diego Chargers relocating to Los Angeles beginning the 2017 NFL Season, those in soccer have been plotting to make sunny San Diego a true soccer city. A proposal for a new, multi-purpose stadium at the Qualcomm site was brought to the table this week, which would welcome a conjoint venue with San Diego State University (SDSU) Aztecs football team.
MLS Soccer News: FS Investors have proposed a $1 billion Major League Soccer development on the current Qualcomm Stadium site in San Diego, once home to the NFL’s Chargers.
Related Article: HELP SAN DIEGO GET AN MLS TEAM
The proposal includes a $200 soccer stadium, which, if approved, would host a new MLS franchise and the San Diego State University (SDSU) Aztecs football team. The 20,000-seat to 30,000-seat stadium could also welcome friendly and international matches as well as non-soccer events held throughout the year.
According to FOX Soccer, “There are a lot of people that were disappointed with (the Chargers’ move) and understandably so,” said Nick Stone, a partner in the investors group, which would develop the property and own the MLS franchise. ”But we think this is a really, really interesting time to look at the opportunity to bring soccer to San Diego. It’s a very logical market for that.”
San Diego has two professional sports teams; the Padres baseball team and the San Diego Sockers.
With area soccer fans crossing the USA/Mexico border to watch pro soccer, San Diego could easily sustain a pro soccer team.
Club Tijuana Xoloitzcuintles de Caliente — more often referred to as Xolos — frequently see California soccer fans attend games held in Tijuana, Baja California, Mexico. The lack of a pro football team, along with the fact that San Diego is a hotbed of youth soccer development, makes the area known for its deep passion for the beautiful game attractive to the MLS.
FS officials said the proposal would purchase Qualcomm Stadium from the city of San Diego, bulldoze it and replace it with the new stadium.
Stone told Mighty 1090, “We Are The Exclusive Group Negotiating With The League To Bring The MLS To San Diego.”
The proposal also includes setting aside 15 acres for a future NFL stadium if necessary, building a 55-acre park, paying for traffic and onsite infrastructure developments — all part of a transit-oriented initiative tied to the trolley service. A youth academy is also part of the plan as well as a sports entertainment district.
San Diego voters rejected the plan for a new NFL football stadium downtown in November. The Chargers announced earlier this month they will be relocating the NFL franchise to Los Angeles, sharing the Rams’ near-$3 billion facility.
“This is an exciting concept that could welcome Major League Soccer to San Diego without public subsidy, provide a home for Aztecs football and create a long-awaited river park,” said San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer. “I look forward to seeing the final plan.”
MLS Commissioner Don Garber met with Mayor Faulconer about the expansion possibility ahead of the U.S. Men’s National Team match versus Serbia on Sunday at 4 p.m. ET.
“We have spent a lot of time down there,” Garber said earlier this month, after the first round of the MLS SuperDraft in Los Angeles. “There is a very good group that’s come together. We know the investor prospects well. I’ve been there quietly probably two or three times. I’ll be down there for the [US national team] game.”
“I think San Diego would be a great MLS city,” Said Garber.
The MLS-centered plan in San Diego requires the league to approve a new franchise and voters to approve an initiative that has yet to make its way onto a ballot. However, FS Investors hope to persuade the City Council to bypass the voting process and approve the deal on its own. The next scheduled vote is in 2018, which may destroy the chances of San Diego getting a franchise due to the delay.
At NSCAA Convention in LA, Garber said, “2020 is most likely when San Diego could see an MLS franchise.”
If the measure ends up being decided by voters, investors might see a better outcome than the Chargers, due to their proposal not including a city-funded initiative. The Chargers failed proposal included an increase in the city’s hotel tax to help develop the stadium.
MLS has announced the goal to expand to 28 teams by 2020, with Atlanta United FC (21) and Minnesota United FC (22) taking the field for the first time during the 2017 season. Los Angeles FC (23) will play its inaugural season in 2018, while David Beckham’s Miami francise (24) is awaiting final negotiations for its stadium development.
Other cities remaining on the table as possible franchise cities include: Detroit, Sacramento, San Antonio and St. Louis.