Soccer City is proposing to build a soccer-specific stadium surrounded by a vibrant sports and entertainment district on the current SDCCU stadium site in the heart of San Diego’s Mission Valley. With the November election fast approaching, SoccerNation is looking in depth at the two proposals that are aiming to redevelop the former home of the Chargers in San Diego.
Since this process became public in 2017, there has been a lot of talk about proposals and plans but deciding what happens at the SDCCU stadium site boils down to a few key issues. Those issues revolve around financing the overall construction at the site, along with the stadium and additional amenities, building and maintaining a proposed River Park, mitigating additional traffic caused by the new development, and the potential for San Diego State University to expand on that site.
Up first is Soccer City, which will appear as Measure E on the ballot. We spoke to SoccerCity’s own Landon Donovan to get into all the details you need to know to make an informed decision. It is important to note that voters can vote Yes or No on either Measure E (SoccerCity) and/or Measure G (SDSU West). It is not a one-or-the-other scenario.
“We are privately financing our stadium. We are asking for no taxpayer dollars. No current taxpayer dollars that are in the coffers. No future taxpayer dollars. Nothing. It is 100% privately funded. Conversely, measure G is asking to use funds that have already been contributed by taxpayers. They are putting students at risk to have to fund this project with student fees being raised.”
STADIUM AND SOCCER
“We are committed to bringing a Major League Soccer team to San Diego. They (SDSU West) will not and cannot bring a Major League Soccer team. We are the only initiative that does that. Major League Soccer has 3 criteria to award a new franchise. The market has to be a good market and San Diego is definitely one Major League Soccer wants to be a part of. They also look for a credible, dependable, and likable ownership group which we are in spades. We have the financial power and knowledge of the game. I played in the MLS for 15 years. SDSU West don’t have that. They don’t have the finances or the people so they fall short in every aspect of the ownership category. The MLS also demands a good stadium solution. What we are building is perfect for Major League Soccer at somewhere between 20-30k seats. The MLS does not want to be a tenant on a college campus in a 40k seat wide open stadium. That’s just not a good visual for them. There is a 0% chance soccer comes if SDSU West passes and a 100% chance soccer comes if Soccer City passes.”
“We are also hoping to acquire the old Chargers practice facility so we can build a 100% privately funded youth academy for kids who don’t have the ability to pay thousands of dollars for club soccer. They will have the opportunity to come play for us for free.”
“If we don’t get an MLS team, the land will go back to the City. That has been agreed in the lease agreement with the city that the mayor negotiated.”
“We are committed to building and maintaining the River Park at our own expense for 99 years. Decades and decades of meeting and community planning have been done for this area. There are very specific criteria for what has to be done on that site. One is the River Park has to be accounted for, taken care of, and revitalized. There needs to be some mix of housing and affordable housing. There is no obligation to do anything, but we think it’s the right thing to do and so we’ve committed to it. Conversely SDSU West is under no obligation to build the River Park. If they do build the River Park, the city has to pay for it and maintain it. The City Attorney has said this publicly on the record.”
“We’re committing to $50 million in traffic mitigation to help with traffic. SDSU West does not commit to any of that so they will not make any traffic improvements if there’s more traffic as a result of their initiative.”
EXPANSION OF SDSU
“Our ownership group and all of our day to day working people have deep deep ties to SDSU. Steve Altman who is one of our main contributors literally has SDSU merchandise throughout his house. He has donated millions and is black and red through and through. He loves the University. Many of our workers are alumni and we want to help San Diego State. It was one of our core initiatives from the outset. Unfortunately what’s happened is a few local greedy developers have tried to muddy those waters and make us look like we are anti-SDSU. They’ve been in the University’s ears and have hijacked the University’s name and brand to try and get a piece of this land. It’s been very disappointing for us because we are being painted as this group of people that don’t care about SDSU which isn’t true. The irony in all of this is that our plan is better for SDSU. It saves them money and doesn’t put students on the hook or at risk should things not go perfectly to plan. We have publicly and in our initiative committed to offering SDSU dozens of acres of land for free, the stadium at a much-reduced cost, and the ability to own the stadium outright so they have security as to where they’re going to play. They also have the ability to purchase up to 35 acres in the future should they need it. That’s a key point because the University doesn’t know if they will need the land in the future in light of colleges moving more towards online learning.”
The full audio of our conversation with Landon Donovan can be found below followed by our conversation with Jack McGrory of SDSU West. For more information on Soccer City, go to https://www.soccercitysd.com/.