Now that the United States is part of a winning bid to host the 2026 World Cup games, backers of two competing stadium designs for Mission Valley look at it as an opportunity to promote their plans.
Pending any legal intervention, voters will decide on two initiatives known as SDSU West and Soccer City on the November 2018 ballot.
“The stadium that we’re going to build gives us the ultimate opportunity to bring events like that to San Diego. So it makes the SDSU Mission Valley plan that much more compelling,” said John David Wicker, Athletic Director at San Diego State University.
“Building an intimate, steep stadium which Soccer City and only Soccer City is doing, that’s amazingly important to secure these games,” said Nick Stone, project manager for Soccer City.
Both plans would require stadium expansion.
FIFA, world soccer’s governing body, requires a minimum 40,000 seat capacity. The SDSU Mission Valley plan calls for a 35,000 seat stadium, and the Soccer City plan calls for a 33,500 seat stadium. But both sides say they are better prepared to expand.
“I think you have to look at stadium size, and our stadium presents the opportunity to meet the minimum qualifications for hosting World Cup,” said Wicker.
“SDSU shouldn’t be wasting the university’s money building a stadium for the World Cup because it comes once every 30 years,” said Stone.
Ultimately, it will be up to voters. Even those who consider themselves soccer fans don’t believe the possibility of securing a World Cup game will influence their vote.
“Personally, I’ve been a soccer fan my entire life, so I lean more to Soccer City. And I think it would bring a lot to San Diego”, said Franco Mestre.
“I think education just overrides, be it soccer or whatever. I do like soccer, but I’d still be for San Diego State,” said David Marrufo.
While both initiatives gathered enough verified signatures to qualify for the November ballot, the San Diego City attorney has filed a lawsuit challenging the legality of the initiatives.
Those challenges will be presented in Superior court later this month.