Lately the football news in San Diego concerns its NFL team and not its Division-I football team. The talks for a new facility that would accommodate the San Diego Chargers, and subsequently the San Diego State Aztecs, are at current standstill as the Chargers will not work with the city on ballot measure that will put the stadium to a vote in December.
It’s looking like San Diego will lose the Chargers while San Diego State is left in the dust to fend for themselves. If it comes to that the current contract with the city and the Aztecs has the university playing five additional years once the Chargers leave, before the city chooses to, presumingly, tear it down and sell the land. If or when the Chargers leave in the middle of the night, the Aztecs must begin drawing up their next move the second they find out.
Build a Stadium on Their Own
The Aztecs have always been the second-tier in the city’s football hierarchy and there has been attendance issues in the post-Marshall Faulk-era. On average under 30,000 fans show up to Aztec football games, barely filling out a third of the current capacity of Qualcomm Stadium. The Aztecs would love a stadium that looks 90 percent full on game days.
However building a stadium is a slippery slope of trickier problems.
Building a stadium on their own land with their own money would be an amazing thing to see happen, but where could you even put a stadium on campus?
If the university is looking into a facility that seats between 30,000 and 40,000 it would resemble the size of Petco Park which sits on about 18 acres. At the campus' current configuration that stadium can't exist. The practice field is built on the sports deck which is essentially a multi-use field built on top of a parking structure. And there's no way the university will demolish Tony Gwynn Stadium and the whole westside of the campus for the space necessary for a stadium.
Buy a piece of land and build it.
It is a mess to purchase the land from the city of San Diego in order to build a stadium. San Diego State is a public university and money can't be thrown in whichever direction it wants to. The California State University Board of Trustees just approved San Diego State's request to build an $80 million science complex and the Aztecs are set to debut the privately-funded Jeff Jacobs J.A.M Center this summer. Buying and developing land just seems like a 10 or even 15-year plan, not a five-year plan.
The Absolute Worst-Case Scenario.
The Aztecs are forced to drop football, again highly unlikely. Which would definitely devastate the entire athletics program, since football is the moneymaker in all of college sports. Basketball would still thrive in any spot but Steve Fisher and company cannot be the breadwinner. Then we assume the Aztecs would have to play in the Big West as the Mountain West only carries schools with football programs. San Diego State University would be in full panic mode by then.
Clearly, it's tough to find land suitable that fits San Diego State's needs as a Division-I program. For the sake of time, the city was forced to decide on the Qualcomm Stadium parking lot for a new stadium. Otherwise, there isn’t much available surrounding land that could house a 30-40 thousand seat stadium. Unless the Aztecs lobby the Padres to configure Petco Park to allow football in the fall. If the Chargers leave, there's a chance it cripples San Diego State. But there's also a chance that San Diego State creates a situation best suited for 30-40 thousand football fans left in San Diego.