I think we can all agree that what this world needed was more speculation and hot takes about San Diego State and Soccer City. Fortunately, I am here to oblige. Don’t all thank me at once.
But hey, at least today we have something approaching actual news to speculate about!
What does this mean? Reading the tea leaves, I think the death rattle of San Diego State’s anti-Soccer City insurgency is at hand.
The gist of Kevin Acee’s latest article is this: SDSU wants Mayor Kevin Faulconer to help the university work out two primary issues it has with FS Investors’ Soccer City proposal.
- Making the stadium cheaper to expand by making an expansion more realistic in the proposed development, and
- Securing land for an satellite campus expansion.
This is the first apparent real news on the Soccer City topic to come out of SDSU since it put some brakes on its momentum with a public airing of grievances in a February 20 press release.
I think there are a few things we can now say for sure.
SDSU’s leverage is not what we’d hoped
A month ago, when SDSU pulled the PR equivalent of crapping in FS Investors’ bathroom sink, it seemed like a power move that betrayed confidence in a Plan B option. This was my assumption; that any rich dude who wanted to make millions off the land needed the political clout that only SDSU could wield to make it happen. Of course this would require strong, steady leadership and real vision on the part of the university. It seemed that with Dr. Elliot Hirshman, who played the Chargers mess brilliantly, we were set in that department.
Wait, hang on. What’s this?
Bah gawd, that’s Stevenson University’s music!
And just like that, poof went our delusions about Zuma and all of those politicians that he carries around in his pocket, like so many nickels and dimes.
Speaking of those politicians, it’s also clear that …
Our local politicians want this really badly
I don’t think Faulconer or the City Council think this is a perfect deal or fail to understand that Soccer City is a land grab that is going to make a couple of hella rich dudes hella richer. It’s just that they can live with that so long as they can get a W out of it.
Politicians, particularly mayors who want to be governors, want big, shiny projects they can attach their legacies to. I know this because I’ve seen seasons 4 and 5 of The Wire, which means I’m basically an expert on all local politics everywhere.
Soccer City is the legacy Faulconer needs. Right now, he’s the mayor who got played by Dean Spanos and lost the Chargers. If this deal works, he’ll be the mayor who brought top flight (American) soccer to San Diego, saved SDSU football and solved a budget mess all in one fell swoop.
Put it all together and you can start to surmise that …
Barring a game changer, Soccer City is probably going to happen
You’ve really got to hand it to our new FSI overlords. They executed a full-court PR press that exploited gaping and immediate needs of the local sports community, SDSU, the San Diego political power structure and our wounded civic pride. They moved quickly and blanketed all the local channels (I think the only person who has gotten more airtime on local radio over the past three months than Nick Stone is Drake), whipped up local supporters and cultivated an image as civic-minded philanthropists – an admittedly neat trick for a group of robber barons with dollar signs on the brain, some might say.
Like it or not, it’s worked brilliantly.
SDSU may have serious qualms about the Soccer City plan, but FS Investors’ signature gatherers are fanned out across the city this week (including on the SDSU campus) talking about how this benefits the city and SDSU. There has been no coherent rejoinder. To this point, the university has offered up no alternative vision and has apparently now thrown its hands up and placed its trust in the mayor to help salvage something – anything – on its behalf.
And maybe there’s something to hope for there. Maybe those buildings can get moved. Maybe there is some space that can be carved out for SDSU West, perhaps on that 16-acre site where an NFL stadium is planned but will very obviously never be built.
Maybe. Maybe not.
Either way, I think the war over Soccer City is almost over.