Monday’s 5-4 vote by the San Diego City Council to kill a November special election did not kill SoccerCity dead. At least not yet. The FS Investors group could push forward with a new timeline and potentially put the same vision before voters in November 2018 — provided the MLS expansion deadline isn’t as hard as they’ve been letting on.
Similarly, Monday’s vote did not necessarily offer irrefutable proof that San Diego State University holds ample local political sway and you must appease it or suffer the consequences. This vote was likely as much about the Council’s Democratic majority wanting to dunk Republican Mayor Kevin Faulconer’s head down in a urinal and hit flush for the second time in as many weeks.
But I’ll say this for old alma mater on the Mesa: Playing hardball has paid off so far.
After stumbling badly to articulate its vision and present a plan in the wake of the Chargers departure, the university now has an unexpected chance to right those early missteps. And they did it through a strategy of opposition that was — whether you agree with it or not — pretty bold. Honestly, I didn’t think SDSU had this in them.
Of course, now comes the harder part.
Exactly. Obstruction and obsolete SDSU West renderings are no longer enough. It’s time for the university to show us its cards.
Show us a feasible stadium financing plan.
Show us exactly where and how the university will grow its academic enterprise on the site in the coming decades.
Show us political support that goes beyond finding one side that wants to plunge a blade into its opponent.
Show us the developer whose partnership is going to help make these dreams a reality.
And get it on the 2018 ballot.
I expect SDSU wouldn’t have played hardball with such vigor if they didn’t have something to show soon. All of the above are probably coming soon (get your Papa Doug barf bags ready if his name is in any way attached).
In the meantime, San Diego State football needs — and should be given — some certainty about where it will play for the rest of the decade. It will be very interesting to see if SDSU and the city re-visit the 2-year lease extension on the Q the sides had been discussing before the Mayor pushed all his chips in with SoccerCity.
SDSU has floated the idea in the past of taking over the operational cost of Qualcomm stadium. Folks with agendas like to peg that cost of operation at $12 million a year, but it is actually far less. Per this great 2015 breakdown by Voice of San Diego, that $12 million figure includes:
- $4.8 million in bond payments from the last expansion (which the city must pay regardless)
- $3.4 million in full-time staff (presumably no longer needed)
- $1.1 million to hire cops to pull Mickey’s-fueled Chargers and Raiders fans off one another
- $800,000 annual handout to Dean Spanos
According to the report, only $750,000 is spent on actual stadium maintenance, which, if you’ve been there lately, seems … kinda high. Given greater access to gameday revenues, SDSU could almost certainly swing that. All it needs is the city’s blessing.
Assuming whatever happens in Mission Valley is now on a slower timeline, is there any reason for the #AztecForLife mayor not to give SDSU that blessing — at least for 2019 and 2020?
I have a hard time thinking of one, beyond the petty spite of a mayor scorned. One would think an #AztecForLife wouldn’t do SDSU dirty like that.
But we’ll see. I guess you never know in San Diego.