Check this out: Qualcomm Stadium is awful and decrepit.
Okay, there are great memories that go along with the place. Aztecs fans have had the pleasure of watching Kabeer (and Akbar) Gbaja-Biamila, Marshall Faulk, Donnel Pumphrey Jr., La’Roi Glover, Kassim Osgood, Ryan Lindley, Kirk Morrison, Darnay Scott, and in their D-I infancy, Brian Sipe and early Air Coryell. Jack Murphy/Qualcomm saw two World Series, two All-Star Games and the entirety of Tony Gwynn’s career. San Diego hosted the Super Bowl there in 1988, 1998 and 2003, plus 39 Holiday Bowls, and um, 12 Poinsettias.
And most of all, Junior Seau, LT, Dan Fouts, Charlie Joiner, Kellen Winslow and the rest of the Chargers. That was before the Spanos heir allowed his family franchise to decay similarly to the building they’ve called home for its entire 49-year history.
Whether we like it or not, San Diego State’s football home of the future is uncertain and tied to the Chargers’ fate. But we can be pretty certain of two possible outcomes.
Actually, both seem pretty good. Let’s wade through it.
There’s the ceaseless game of unnamed-source reliant reporters such as Ian Rapoport and Jason La Canfora (whose league sources totally aren’t only limited to Mark Fabiani) reporting that the Chargers are definitely moving. Absolutely, positively. This time, they really mean it. And if they do, then that joint SDSU/MLS stadium at a “West Campus” concept is obviously the best plan for San Diego State.
While the Chargers really, REALLY mean it this time, noted San Diego State coaching enthusiast Kevin Acee took time away from writing his inevitable “Steve Fisher May Look Like Orville Redenbacher, But Fewer Kernels Are Popping At San Diego State” piece to report the Chargers are seeking additional funds from the NFL to remain in San Diego.
The two stadium solutions alleged to be in play:
1. Chargers/Aztecs stadium, 60,000 overall capacity (Acee speculates), with funds coming from the City and County of San Diego, SDSU, the NFL, and the Chargers through PSL sales, naming rights and investment bank loans.
2. San Diego State/potential MLS franchise build joint 40,000 seat football/soccer stadium on what would also potentially serve as a satellite Campus West for San Diego State University.
From purely a sports fan standpoint (leaving aside the vitally important financials), option one sounds great. The Chargers stay, the Aztecs finally have a nice home, there’s ample capacity for the Holiday and Poinsettia Bowls (don’t laugh). And – while not ideal and in all likelihood a pipe dream – the new Chargers/Aztecs stadium could host an MLS soccer franchise. If you need a more plausible soccer connection, San Diego becomes a more attractive option for US Soccer, CONCACAF/FIFA tournaments, and summertime club friendlies.
The Chargers have some sort of announcement coming
this Thursday (1/12), some time prior to Mayor Kevin Faulconer’s “State of the City” address that evening at some point before the sun exhausts its hydrogen.
Meanwhile NFL met today to discuss (amongst other things) San Diego’s stadium situation. While there are rumors of the NFL working to make a financial offer that would entice Dean Spanos to keep the Chargers in San Diego, it’s probably wise to assume we’ll know about as much as we do now come the announcement.
If the Chargers (et al.) can come to an agreement and a brand new football stadium is built in San Diego, there are some obvious concerns about the idea of downsizing the stadium for Aztecs football.
As a huge soccer fan who has been pining for an MLS club in San Diego for YEARS, I wasted no time in adopting the local club when I moved to a new city. Ever since we moved to the Seattle area we’ve been Sounders season ticket holders.
The experience is fantastic, and the only time the upper deck tarps even come to mind is during the handful of matches each season where they open the stadium to full capacity. It just makes what’s already a great matchday experience even better. I like to imagine this is similar to what we’d see for San Diego State football (or Pipedream FC).
I would not expect the death cavern feel of Padres games during the tarped upper deck, “Hey, it’s baseball” years. There could be a more aesthetic solution as well, as BC Place in Vancouver opts for an awning that hooks under the upper deck and pulls up toward the upper canopy to downsize capacity. In the end, the experience will depend on the fans themselves. The good news is that everyone’s starting fresh and all of this can be considered in the planning stages.
While all of that sounds great, it hinges on a lot of moving parts. You could definitely argue that MLS is a better partner for San Diego State than Dean Spanos. There’s been a general lack of transparency or effort to work toward a goal other than “everything we want” on the part of the Chargers. That said, for all of their other issues, the NFL likely won’t allow the Chargers to screw this up. And given San Diego State’s likely contribution, that’s an attitude that would need to change.
With the San Diego State/MLS partnership, there wouldn’t be a need to consider bidding on Super Bowls, college football playoff championship games, or events like Wrestlemania or boat shows. That being the case, the facility could be built even more specific to their needs – more reasonable capacity, a section serving as a “student section” for Aztecs games and a “supporters section” for MLS, etc. The building would also remain reasonable for use by both of San Diego’s bowl games.
The idea of a “western campus” also includes housing for students and faculty, an “executive hotel”, offices, and seemingly some academic buildings. While not necessary right now, it puts SDSU out in front of future needs for more housing/office/academic space instead of playing catch-up later on.
I’m sorry that I don’t have a hotter take than this, but I think both plans sound good for San Diego State. This isn’t a great time to be a general San Diego sports fan, but this is actually a pretty exciting (albeit uncertain) time for San Diego State football. The team is good, fun to watch, and will be involved in building a new stadium from the planning stages.
Unless you want to take the Nihilist Rocky angle, consider neither plan working out, and they end up playing their home games at some Avocado League stadium. Or whatever.
Updated 1/11/17, 7:16 p.m.