The San Diego State football Aztecs will likely play in Mission Valley through the 2020 football season — and almost certainly for a good while after that.
As reported by Voice of San Diego, SDSU and the City of San Diego have reached a tentative deal on a lease extension for Aztecs football at SDCCU Stadium through the end of the 2020 season. This gives San Diego State certainty on a place to play until one of three scenarios comes to pass:
- SDSU West wins at the polls this fall and the university takes over the old hulk while building a new stadium.
- SoccerCity wins at the polls this fall and the soccer stadium opens in 2021.
- Both lose and a standard Request for Proposals (RFP) process, likely to include a new stadium, runs its course.
You’ll note none of these scenarios has SDSU football playing at Grossmont College or the ruins of Balboa Stadium, as some investor-affiliated social media personalities once snarkily predicted.
In exchange for this certainty the University will now pay big boy rent, increasing from an annual $154,000 payment (circa 2017) through a $1 ticket surcharge to $1.1 million annually. The current lease — generously agreed to a decade ago by then-mayor Jerry Sanders, an SDSU alum — was a needed lifeline at the lowest point in the history of the program, following a decade of ineptitude and dwindling attendance. The rent increase makes sense. In the wake of eight straight winning seasons and bowl appearances, Aztecs football absolutely has the ability and responsibility to pull its own weight again.
This is good news!
So why was I so aggravated this morning*?
Yeah. About that $13 million.
This is not to pick on the Jacks or Joes of the world, as this figure is a widely circulated piece of misinformation largely treated as gospel in the local media. If this level of subsidy were anywhere close to accurate I’d be up in arms too. Or, I’d at least feel a little guilty about my college football hobby.
San Diego spends $12.5 million annually (per VOSD) on STADIUM — in a sense. But let’s be clear: The city does not literally spend $12.5 million a year to keep those rusty steel shutters open.
Doing some back of the envelope calculations with the help of Voice of San Diego’s reporting, we can subtract from that annual $12.5 million:
- $4.5 million to finance the 1997 NFL expansion that SDSU neither asked for nor wanted. The city must pay this regardless of whether the stadium is open, closed or reduced to a hole in the ground. Thanks, Alex and Dean!
- $1.1 million in increased rent from SDSU.
- $500,000 savings — a conservative estimate — from the former $1.1 million in public safety costs (police, fire) that no longer includes Chargers games.
- $800,000 that was literally PAID TO THE CHARGERS BY THE CITY BECAUSE THE NFL IS AN ENORMOUS GRIFT.
- $500,000 in naming rights, minimum, if SDCCU opts to extend its naming rights after 2018 or another sponsor takes over.
That gets us down to $5.1 million, and that’s without taking into account any revenue garnered (probably very little) from the new pro football league slated to kick off in Spring 2019.
Let’s also note that the old numbers show that while the stadium’s maintenance budget is $750,000, the city pays $3.4 million to personnel … personnel who maybe aren’t incredibly busy anymore?
I, too, would welcome such an explanation.
But I digress. Unless I’m missing something, the city will pay approximately $5.1 million annually to subsidize SDSU football and the Holiday Bowl’s continued existence and provide a bridge to their future homes, host concerts, sell RVs and give teenagers a place to learn how to drive a stick shift.
That’s not nothing, to be sure. But it’s a lot less than the number that makes people start talking about throwing San Diego State football out of its home of five decades and into a garbage can.
Anyway, good news today.
I’m going to go enjoy my afternoon now.
/turns over desk in a rage
*besides the hangover.