Now that the NFL’s San Diego Chargers are heading to Los Angeles, an MLS expansion franchise could become a major priority in San Diego.
Thursday brought the news that the Chargers, after failing to secure a new stadium in San Diego through a November referendum, are going to move to Los Angeles. That decision closes the door on the NFL in San Diego for the forseeable future, but it could accelerate the city’s bid for an MLS franchise.
The main concept behind San Diego’s MLS proposal is for an expansion franchise to play at a new stadium in Mission Valley. The facility would also host San Diego State University football and top out at a capacity of 30,000, but that number could be scaled back for MLS games. Now that the Chargers are leaving Qualcomm Stadium, officials can begin planning the redevelopment of the stadium site and the surrounding land.
While the full details of the proposal are not expected to be made public until later this month, the San Diego Union-Tribune has reported the capacity figures, along with an expected price tag of $200 million for the stadium. As the plan takes shape, those behind San Diego’s bid–including Mike Stone of FS Investors–are putting together their pitch to the MLS. More from the Union-Tribune:
People with knowledge of the plan, speaking on the condition of anonymity, say the group will submit an application for an MLS expansion franchise later this month with plans for a 30,000-seat venue on the Qualcomm Stadium site that would be shared by San Diego State football.
Things could move quickly. The group headed by La Jolla investor Mike Stone would generate a citizen’s initiative with hopes of receiving City Council approval by June. MLS has said it will choose two expansion cities in the third quarter of 2017 with the intention of them joining the league in 2020.
The Union-Tribune reports that Stone is backed in the effort by a group of investors that includes Steve Altman, the former vice chairman of Qualcomm. Peter Seidler, an owner of MLB’s San Diego Padres, was attached to the project last summer, but is reportedly not with the group at this time
Since applications from expansion candidates are due at the end of this month, it was inevitable that more news would emerge out of San Diego. Now that the Chargers are definitely out of the picture, it seems that MLS backers in the city are primed to make their case sooner rather than later.
RELATED STORIES: Residents Polled on New San Diego MLS Stadium; Padres Owner Among Potential San Diego MLS Leaders; San Diego Eying MLS Team