Why Soccer City Will Win Mission Valley

The folks behind the redevelopment and MLS proposal have one thing nobody else does

NBC 7’s Derek Togerson looks at the feud brewing over “Soccer City” in this commentary

How did we get here?

I mean how did we end up at this particular moment in San Diego’s sports history? The late, great Jack Murphy must be rolling over in his grave looking at what’s going on with the sports in his town.

The NFL team left because the cowardly and idiotic Dean Spanos and local politicians couldn’t figure out how to do … well, ANYTHING right for about two decades. The MLB team is on the right track but will very likely go about 15 years between playoff appearances. The most successful team in San Diego is the pro hockey franchise. And a group trying to bring to town Major League Soccer is feuding with the largest university in San Diego like they’re Taylor Swift and Katy Perry.

What in the world is going on around here?

San Diego State University and the FS Investors group that put together a proposal to redevelop the Mission Valley land where the stadium that should still be named after Mr. Murphy sits are in a verbal battle royale. Instead of working together on a mutually beneficial future they’re mired in a war of words that is really doing nobody any good.

A couple of times a week now SDSU or the SDSU Alumni Past Presidents Council or an alumni group of some kind officially says it opposes the Soccer City plan. They believe it’s not enough to grow the university in the future.

To that the FS Investors group will counter with a statement of their own outlining the concessions they have made (such as offering larger seating capacity for the football team and extra acreage for the school to develop research facilities) to the school and playing the card that Mayor Kevin Faluconer is on board with their idea.

Back and forth, tit for tat, lots of talk moving nowhere. It certainly is not helping achieve a resolution to this issue.

I understand the concerns of SDSU and agree with their assertion that the school is an important part of the future of San Diego. All universities are. But this petty infighting is not doing anything for anyone except causing angst and creating more and increasingly stressful questions about the future of our sporting landscape.

Right now there is exactly one real proposal for redeveloping the Mission Valley site and it’s Soccer City. The professional football team has been gone for nearly half a year and the rumors that they were leaving were around for two years before that. If anyone else was going to put together a legitimate plan for those 200-plus acres don’t you think they would have done it by now?

Or don’t you think they would have had the foresight to start planning for that contingency? We hear rumors about a Moores plan or a Manchester plan or another mysterious man behind the curtain plan. But so far nothing concrete. Zero.

That is the essence of San Diego’s business and political leaders and it’s a big reason the NFL is not here anymore. The traditional developers and the decision makers in this town have been incestuous for far too long. The powers-that-be have become so entrenched in the way things have always been that they have not just slowed the wheels of progress … they will fight against anything outside their little comfortable bubble of control.

I never thought I would say it but on this point Mark Fabiani was right. He said the way things are run in this town made it nearly impossible to get anything done and to an extent he nailed that one. But what he and the Chargers and the hoteliers and the politicians do not have, have never had, and will never have is the one thing that is pushing Soccer City over the top:


FS Investors have a vision and they started planning it long ago. They have business partners and friends and support from multiple fronts. They planned for this and now that they’ve caught everyone else off-guard we see all the traditional big players in San Diego scurrying to come up with a counter-proposal but so far they don’t have the creativity to find one.

Personally, I tend to lean towards the people who had the ability to think ahead and be prepared. This town has been reactionary for far too long, both from political and business leaders.

Wouldn’t it be nice to start getting more people on the same page and building something for the future instead of trying to do things the same way they’ve always been done? That way we might actually get something done.

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