San Diego: The Soccer City?
by Derek Li
With the Chargers abruptly leaving the city it has called home since 1961, San Diego, with a population more than 1.3 million people, is only left with a baseball team: the Padres. Even Green Bay, Wisconsin, with a population of a mere 100,000 people, has an NFL football team, the Packers. San Diegans have been desperately hoping for another sports team to call this Southern Californian coast city home.
So, what is the reason for the lack of major sports teams in San Diego? Well, there isn’t a clear explanation, except for the fact that sports just isn’t as big as a thing in San Diego than it is in other cities, such as Los Angeles. In other words, it’s just not a huge part of the city’s culture. This could be proven by the fact that the proposal for a new Chargers stadium in San Diego was downvoted, which is partially why it later moved to Los Angeles.
The good news is, San Diego is making progress. The city has recently shown strong interest in an MLS soccer team. In fact, a detailed proposal for this new team has already been released. According to the San Diego Union-Tribune, the new development, which is called “Soccer City”, calls for a complete remaking of the Qualcomm Stadium area for a new stadium with a capacity of up to 40,000 people that can host both MLS soccer and San Diego State University football games. In addition to plans for the stadium itself, “Soccer City” also shows proposals for “nearly 1,300 student and low-income housing units, public soccer fields, three residential high-rises up to 26 stories, two hotels with a total of 450 rooms and reserved space for a second trolley line and station.” If the plan goes through, the total construction cost is projected to be over one billion dollars.
However, there are other markets that may have priority over San Diego when it comes to a new MLS team. This includes St. Louis, Tampa, and Sacramento. The NFL can only choose two cities to expand to that would join the league in 2020. But, it seems like San Diego is one of the frontrunners of this race. According to Vox Media, Don Garber, the commissioner of the MLS, recently stated that “San Diego’s looking good” when answering the question of whether or not San Diego will be one of the two teams that will be selected to join the MLS at the end of this year.
Whether or not an MLS team comes to San Diego, the city is at least taking the initiative to bring a professional sports team to town, hopefully giving life to the currently lackluster sports scene. And, if the proposal does get approved, let’s just all hope that it won’t eventually relocate to Los Angeles.