Mark Zeigler, who covers soccer for the San Diego Union-Tribune, reported on Monday that one of two groups in "very preliminary" discussions with MLS to possibly put an expansion team in San Diego includes John Moores, who owned Major League Baseball's San Diego Padres until 2012.
Moores is apparently aggressive in this interest in running a soccer team, as he's also involved in a possible takeover bid at Premier League club Everton, who are well run but have needed money for a number of years. That seems like a lot to chew off, since billionaires are now bankrolling English clubs, and the MLS expansion fee is probably permanently north of $100 million these days.
Of course, Moores is the only public name associated with the ownership groups, and judging by LAFC's 24-person strong ownership group, if you collect enough rich people together they'll have the money to do whatever they like.
And I'm genuinely intrigued by this interest in possibly expanding MLS to San Diego. I've lived in San Diego, and have always contended that it's not a good sports city. The Chargers are about to be the third major pro team to leave the city, based on the signs pointing to a move up the road to Carson. I went to a bunch of Padres games when Moores was the owner, and while the Padres had a few solid seasons and have a core fanbase, most of those games I went to were not well attended.
The public narrative was that Moores had to sell the Padres because he was going through a divorce, and I suppose he had to divide the worth of the team with his ex-wife. The divorce dragged on for years, and the team just shuffled through a couple seasons as uncertainty reigned. Maybe it was a once-in-a-lifetime predicament and having apparently other people involved in the Everton and MLS bids could help him get back in the game, so to speak.
Zeigler made the salient point that Moores has been interested in MLS from practically the beginning, and his connections could help him swing a club at some point.
But as Zeigler and I myself have pointed out, there are other obstacles at play. Most notably, even if a San Diego ownership group had the money for the expansion fee and setting up the club, they'd need to build a stadium, and one that would almost certainly need to be shared with the San Diego State football team. And while the Qualcomm Stadium site seems like a no-brainer to redevelop into another stadium, would the city be willing to facilitate that, or would they feel betrayed by the Chargers departure and block another effort to build?
But like I said, I remain intrigued. I'm not sure Moores would bring the sizzle to make a San Diego team successful, and for the fans to show up regularly, the team would need to be successful. Don't forget, there's not only the LA Galaxy and incoming LAFC as direct competition in MLS, but also Club Tijuana, who after a few years of faltering have bought the best journalist-punching coach money can buy, and look poised to turn things around in a hurry. And there's so much to do in San Diego that it frankly distracts people from sports. If the local team sucks, you can just go to the beach, and that's a pretty alluring prospect.
Still, San Diego does like soccer, and while I think there's a solid chance an SD MLS team would become blandly mediocre in record time, MLS' track record has been good of late. The latest expansion teams, Orlando City and New York City FC, had real question marks over them, and did remarkably well in drawing fans to the stadium in their first season. Of course, time will tell if they can get those numbers to stick, but it was a good start. Maybe my skepticism about San Diego is unwarranted?
Maybe, maybe not, but even if it could work, don't get ready to make your season deposits for San Diego 2022 just yet. A lot has to happen for it to even come to fruition.
What do you think? Leave a comment below!