Wednesday, April 25, 2007

MLS still looking at San Diego

Much like St. Louis and Philadelphia, San Diego has been a target market for a MLS team since before the league existed, but never have all the ingredients come together to make it happen.

Turns out, they still are not coming together, but there might be a move in sight.

However, before we get there, let's take a look at why San Diego is of such interest.
It makes perfect sense when you consider the area's soccer demographics: tens of thousands of youth players, some of the nation's best youth clubs, the Sockers' glistening legacy, World Cup TV ratings more than double the national average, nearly 1 million people of Hispanic heritage with a love for the sport, and millions more in Mexico just a short drive away.

The main sticking point has been the total lack of a suitable stadium as the only options are the 70,000 seater Qualcomm Stadium or USD's Torero Stadium, which holds about 7,000. But could that change?

Enter San Jose Padres owner John Moores who has talked with MLS in the past. Moores obtained "'the sole option to lease from the city Qualcomm Stadium for professional soccer' in exchange for waiving revenue from the stadium's naming rights deal." There has been talk about Moores bringing a women's team to the area as part of the new pro league, but is that enough for him to turn down naming rights money?

With the Chargers wanting to move out of Qualcomm and into an American football specific stadium (the stadium was build for baseball as well), there might be some redevelopment happening soon. And that leads us to one more point, Moores is a big San Diego State fan.

So here is the scenario Mark Zeigler is suggesting.
Say the Chargers move out of Qualcomm, and the city redevelops the site. Moores or someone else, armed with two soccer tenants and a homeless SDSU football program, could propose building a smaller stadium somewhere in the county.

This proposal is very interesting in that it is very similar to what we just saw with Lew Wolff and the San Jose Earthquakes. In both cases you have a baseball owner trying to bring a soccer team to a supportive city, but needing a little help from the city and a public university to make it happen.

The potential is very much there for the Chargers to move, even if they do not get a new stadium. The team has threatened to move in 2008, but even if they did, I would imagine it would take a while for the city to agree to redevelop the land. Anything could happen, but with MLS wanted more concrete plans these days before they award a team, I don't think this will be happening soon.

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3 Comments:

Blogger San Diego Soccer said...

San Diego MLS Project is now in its third phase. MLS Commissioner Don Garber has quoted San Diego as being on the short list of future cities in every 2007 interview, most recently live on FOX's MLS Saturday series debut. If you have an interest in following the progress, please visit the official website of the Project anytime, http://sdmlsproject.com If you would like to get onto the email list for events (local San Diego only), send a request to sdmlsproject_2012@yahoo.com

8:46 PM  
Blogger San Diego Soccer said...

p.s.
great article and opinion, but you called John Moores "San Jose" Padres owner. (we know you meant San Diego) ...yes, Moores is one of the leading contenders to own the team... He previously owned the rights, but waived them for CHIVAS USA's owner to consider San Diego.
San Diego MLS Project

8:59 PM  
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