At a press conference held in La Jolla on Monday morning, details about San Diego’s long-rumored Major League Soccer bid were revealed. A single image was released, depicting a raucous crowd cheering for “San Diego FC” while waving white and blue flags and scarves. FS Investors, an investment group with offices in San Diego and San Mateo has the exclusive bidding rights to apply for a Major League Soccer franchise, have yet to complete the final details, but the proposition includes several points:
- The proposed stadium project is 100% fully financed and requires zero taxpayer dollars
- Step one involves development of 30 acres of River Park, growing to 55
- Plan also includes “transit oriented development with student focused housing” and ownership group is “quite hopeful” with working with SDSU – Roughly 800 beds have been planned for, along with low- and moderate-income housing
- Office space for SDSU and corporate business
- FS Investors forecasts stadium would cost $200 million to build, and proposes to split cost 50/50 with SDSU, then donate their half of the property to SDSU five years from completion
- Investor group proposes to split maintenance costs of proposed stadium with the city of San Diego
- Investors claim that the city must “direct adopt” the Qualcomm site, and that city must act quickly since MLS’ expansion application deadline is Jan 31st. If land deal goes to a public vote, group is OUT
The deadline to apply for MLS expansion is in just a few days, January 31st to be exact, and there is no time for this proposal to go to a vote before this opportunity to add a major professional sports team passes by. The league only has a finite number of expansion slots remaining, and there are several markets around the country much further ahead than San Diego in the expansion process.
Don Garber, MLS’ Commissioner is due in San Diego this week for the United States Men’s National Team match against Serbia on Sunday, and Monday’s announcement comes at an important time as the nation’s soccer community turns its attention towards San Diego. Garber has previously indicated the league’s desire to plant a team in San Diego, and acknowledged that the time has never been better for MLS in San Diego.
“What it’s really about is that we seem to do better in markets that have less competition. And that obviously makes sense. It seems as if when a team leaves, there’s a void that fans and the community overall and politicians feel, and MLS can come in and in many ways try to fill that void. We have spent a lot of time down there,” Garber said to reporters at the MLS SuperDraft. “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 it would be a great MLS city.”
The League is in. The ownership is in. What needs to happen next?
It would seem as though all that remains is for City Counsel to vote to sell the land to FS Investors. Voice of San Diego CEO Scott Lewis believes there is potential if San Diego State throws in alongside FS Investors:
@DikeNatsai if SDSU gives it full support, it’s got a strong chance IMO.
— Scott Lewis (@vosdscott) January 23, 2017
SDSU spokesman Greg Block acknowledged that the university has received a proposal from FS Investors, but that they have not decided one way or another how to respond.
“It’s worthy of continued discussions,” he said. “I don’t think we’re ready to put anything anywhere — we’re not committing to anything right now. We are committed to playing football,” he said. “There’s lots of things out there we’re looking at.”
Could SDSU opt to move forward without aid from FS Investors? Quite possibly. The question is, will they?