With the uncertainty surrounding the future of NFL team San Diego Chargers, who are angling for a new stadium one way or another, and are apparently willing to move to the Los Angeles area if necessary, there has been a swift response from San Diegans. Among the recent developments is a new report, commissioned by Mayor Kevin Faulconer, of a Citizens' Stadium Advisory Group, declaring that there is space for a new stadium in San Diego for the Chargers, and in particular, the best site is in Mission Valley, where the team already plays, all for an estimated $1.1 billion.
Why am I writing about this? The NFL stadium dance in Southern California has many indirect connections to MLS. Previously, the proposal to build a stadium in Carson to be shared by the Chargers and the Raiders, would obviously have some impact on the Galaxy, who of course are based in Carson.
In addition, the aforementioned Citizens' Stadium Advisory Group threw in a casual aside in their report on a stadium in San Diego that could also serve as the home for an MLS expansion team and/or international soccer games (included on the list on page 18).
So, does that mean MLS could be coming to San Diego? Don't count on it.
First of all, this idea has been hatched by a citizens' advisory council created to convince the Chargers to stay in San Diego. They list MLS expansion as one of 25 ideas for producing additional revenue when there aren't NFL home games.
What is the most important thing an expansion market needs to attract MLS? First and foremost, they need a rich owner or owners committed to moving mountains to make an MLS team happen. Yes, there are many other factors that go into Major League Soccer deciding whether or not to grant a new franchise in a market, including stadium plans, but even if you have a brand spanking-new stadium able to play games, if there's no source of wealth and ambition at the top, there's nothing to a plan.
And there is no indication the Chargers, if they decided to stay in San Diego (far from a certainty at the moment) would want to run an MLS team themselves. While the NFL-MLS stadium partnerships have run the gamut, from Seattle's rousing success for both teams, to New England's heavily NFL-favored approach and the Revolution very much playing second fiddle, the Chargers don't even have a reputation of being spenders in the ultra-competitive NFL. Does it really seem likely they'll try to make money (which frankly isn't guaranteed to be a money-maker) with an MLS team? Not in my mind.
Add to that the risk of the market itself, a fair-weather sports town in the main as far as actually attending Chargers and Padres games, and even though there are a lot of soccer fans in the region, are they really going to turn out in real numbers if an MLS team is established? I'm quite skeptical.
So to summarize, is it possible MLS could come to San Diego one day? Sure, anything's possible. Does it seem remotely likely? Nope. Wishful thinking from a proposal begging another sports team to stay in the city is not the same thing as any real possibility it's happening, especially absent a rich owner or group of owners making noise publicly about wanting to buy into MLS in San Diego. In my mind, this remains little more than a pipe dream.
What do you think? Leave a comment below!