Since the long-lost days of June 2017 FS Investors, the people behind the movement to bring a Major League Soccer franchise to San Diego, have been quite quiet. The SoccerCity silence was broken Monday when Nick Stone, spokesperson for FS Investors, met with soccer fans and media personnel just north of the city proper in Del Mar at the pristine Surf Cup Sports Complex for a status update on the health of the project.
Citing the simple reality that there will be no special election in 2017, Stone and his colleagues have no choice but to petition the league to wait until after the November 2018 election is completed before committing to any other expansion bid in the hopes that San Diego’s approved SoccerCity proposal is compelling enough to deserve a place in MLS.
“It’s in the best interest of everyone in the entire soccer ecosystem for MLS to choose from among the strongest markets, and we’re going to work with our fans to continue to prove that San Diego is one of them,” said FS Investor Landon Donovan in a statement. “The incredible enthusiasm that soccer fans have shown, including the 53,000 plus who made San Diego the highest attended Gold Cup match, has confirmed that San Diego is one of America’s leading soccer towns.”
The first half of that statement is irrefutable. The challenge for each of the applicant cities for this round of MLS expansion is distinguishing themselves as the “strongest” market according to the criteria MLS outlined back in December of 2016. According to the league, qualified applicants will submit documentation that focuses on the following three areas:
- Ownership – Applicants will provide a description of ownership structure and financial information.
- Stadium – Applicants will provide details on the proposed site, financing plan, required governmental approvals and support from public officials.
- Financial Projections, Corporate Support and Soccer Support – Applicants will provide a business plan, financial projections and commitment letters for stadium naming rights and jersey-front sponsor. Applicants must also provide an overview of support from the soccer community
The ownership of the proposed San Diego MLS team is hard to argue against. With national team legends such as Donovan and Shannon MacMillan allied with the prowess of Mike and Nick Stone (unrelated), Univision Deportes President Juan Carlos Rodriguez, San Diego Padres lead investor Peter Seidler and several others of similar caliber, the San Diego ownership group that makes up FS Investors is as strong or stronger than any other.
With the strength of the ownership group comes healthy access to corporate support and, as Stone was keen to point out, the San Diego soccer community is primed and ready for professional soccer. Surf Cup, an elite level competitive youth tournament is one of the highest drivers of economic activity in the region, and San Diego regularly ranks above existing MLS markets in television ratings for World Cup viewing.
“No city in the United States is better suited for an MLS franchise than San Diego, and we are 100 percent confident this community would make every soccer game and event exciting and special,” said Stone. “We’re undertaking this campaign on behalf of all the San Diegans who’ve given their time over the past few months to show their support. We owe it to them to do everything we can to bring Major League Soccer here.”
The “Wait for SD” campaign will include frequent fan events to highlight the enthusiasm for soccer in the San Diego market, a social media push to exhibit the engagement of fans and contact with the League to socialize the value of Waiting for San Diego.