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San Diego MLS bid at risk as Soccer City placed on 2018 ballot

One of the major competitors for an MLS expansion bid  has taken a major blow in their local political situation.

San Diego’s proposed Soccer City site, fronted by FS Investors and former U.S. Men’s National Team great Landon Donovan, has been placed on the 2018 ballot for public vote, according to KPBS News. The news brings an end to the possibility of the proposal getting a special 2017 vote it requested to expedite the approval to use the former Qualcomm Stadium site as a home for a San Diego MLS franchise.

Ultimately, this rules San Diego officially out of contention for expansion slots 25 and 26, which MLS has stated will be announced by the end of 2017. Without an approved stadium site, the city can’t be considered a realistic contender with opponents such as Tampa Bay, Nashville, and Sacramento in advanced stages of stadium planning.

This doesn’t rule San Diego out of contention for MLS expansion entirely, however, as it remains within the realm of possibility that slots 27 and 28 could be available even with a 2018 vote. Prior to the disappointing news, San Diego was seen as a frontrunner due to its market size, lack of major sports teams aside from the MLB’s Padres, and the involvement of Donovan.

While not a death knell, the news represents a significant step back for what was one of the most promising candidate cities for MLS.


  1. The San Diego bid was a dead man walking from the beginning. The people who put the bid together, FS Investors, took a gamble to try and get a giant piece of expensive SD real estate, at next to nothing, build a giant commercial complex and realize a cap value of the project at 4 billion dollars. The stadium, if you read the fine print in the initiative, would not have to be built for seven (7) years and the ballot initiative, which take precedent over any following agreements would have the city sell the land at salvage value (about 50K) As a sweetener, the developers promised a free stadium and a franchise. SDSU saw through the ruse within a few months and backed away, but MLS supporters got sucked in. With the element of surprise gone, and forces aligned against it, I seriously doubt FS Investors will hang around til next year for the election, which they most certainly will lose. Its in the same boat as St. Louis, sinking.

  2. Not at all interested in San Diego. I’d take Phoenix, Nashville, Detroit, North Carolina or Cincinnati anytime.

  3. I love how the rich avoid investing their money, while City (San Diego) already high taxes & it’s residents have to pay more into this stadium, talk about anti-free-market.

    • The proposal did not involve any taxpayer dollars, it was 100% privately financed. It did, however, involve the sale of the land that Qualcomm currently occupies from the city to the investment group.

  4. Depends on how the vote goes. If they have Qualcomm Stadium, don’t they rise to the number one choice? Maybe it depends on the use agreement, but they definitely could/should be number one.

    • FYI, the proposal is based on tearing down Qualcomm and building a new, smaller facility that would also be shared with San Diego State football. Because San Diego State didn’t support this, it made it difficult to go forward at an accelerated time table. Plus the cost of a special election was estimated at $5 million. Consolidating the election with 2018 gubernatorial and congressional elections reduces the cost considerably.

      • So in other words the exact opposite of what I was saying was a big advantage. Thanks for clarifying.

        I don’t get the tearing down thing. Seattle voted on having soccer and football in the same stadium and if it weren’t for the unethical ( different than what we voted on ) laying of artificial turf, it has been perfect. So a football stadium can work for soccer and it is more like a football stadium than mixed use currently.

        But many others cant make it work for older stadiums. Makes no sense. Reconfigure the seating, make it a cozy very large stadium, offset the suffering through having an old stadium, with the nostalgia of Jack Murphy.

        Beats the heck out of having too small a stadium, which barely qualifies as a stadium, not have a place for it. I could be wrong, but I think people just need a little vision. Soccer should be in San Diego.

    • Qualcomm is falling apart and is scheduled for demolition in 2 years time. Also, its 50 year old “multi-purpose” design is horrible for soccer. MLS would never award a franchise if the Q was the stadium. It’s not an option in any way. If you read the article, the vote is now in November 2018, past the MLS deadline for the last 2 expansion spots. There is still a slim chance that the public vote on the stadium gets moved back to November 2017, but it’s looking less likely after yesterday’s City Council meeting.

  5. Just give the slot to Nashville. It’s a better city that’s been attracting more fans to games and is in a part of the country that’s vastly underserved by MLS.

    • Come on man, don’t be ridiculous! San Diego’s weather is some of the best in the world. All of SoCal’s futbol demographics are exceptional for growth.

      Nashville works with the MLS theme of creating regional rivalries. I didn’t know Nashville was a magnet for futbol attendance? How long has Nashville been on the map of professional footy?

      • I am from SO CA, the soccer culture being pro-U.S. Soccer (both MLS & USNT) is not great. MLS would need real DP’s (mega-stars) to attract people to that market. Galaxy had Cienfuegos attract about 80% Salvies at gates, in the Rose Bowl. Think how much invest in “mega-stars” like Suarez or Aguero to attract maybe 30,000 per game but the ratings below 50,000 per game, in that market.

        Nashville does attract pro-U.S. crowds, heck, Birmingham, AL, attract more pro-U.S. soccer crowds than San Diego. Now I live in Hollywood, FL, & South Florida is lousy market for MLS, most non-Americans think of MLS as garbage league, look at MLS’s ratings in South Florida.

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