Somebody has fear-mongered the city of San Diego into believing that San Diego State football will be “homeless” following the 2019 season if a deal with Soccer City isn’t struck. Fans, in turn, have been anxious.
J.D. Wicker, San Diego State University’s Athletic Director, argues the situation is not as dire as some want fans to believe. An atmosphere of uncertainty and urgency appears to be a tactic employed to generate support for FS Investors’ Mission Valley proposal.
“It is definitely a narrative that others are trying to push and build,” Wicker said via the San Diego Union-Tribune. “I find it hard to believe that the citizens of San Diego, the mayor, the city council, the decision-makers, would allow a second football team to be impacted incredibly negatively by a decision that they would make.”
Recently, Ron Fowler, Padres Executive Chairman has cleared the air about Petco Park use by SDSU after the 2019 season, citing it would be OK for the Aztecs to use Petco for football- after the season and all home playoff games were completed.
"We would be okay with SDSU using Petco for football after our season is over in 2020 and beyond,” Fowler said. “However, it would have to be after all home playoff games were completed."
MLB regular season play ends around October 1, early into college football play. If the Padres make a deep run in the playoffs that could put Petco off-limits until Halloween.
If that is the case there still would be four or five weeks in which SDSU could use Petco. It would require SDSU to back-load its home schedule, but it’s been done before. The best case for the Aztecs would be for the Padres to not make the playoffs and allow San Diego State to take over the park in October.
In 2015, Hawaii played four of its last five games at home (three conference games and one non-conference contest), so there is some precedence for a back-loaded schedule.
The 12-game schedule typically includes six home games, but the Aztecs could play five instead in 2020. A home-and-home with UCLA might be able to be swapped, so SDSU would then host the Bruins in 2019 and play at the Rose Bowl in 2020.
The NCAA is also considering adding a second bye week to the season, which would provide further flexibility with the schedule.
A Mountain West rule does preclude teams from being scheduled for more than two straight conference games on the road, but there is no such rule regarding conference home games.
SDSU, in a pinch, could play most of its early schedule on the road, say, two conference games, then a non-conference, then two more conference games to meet the MW’s two-road games rule, then play its four Mountain West home games at the end of the season. It’s challenging -- but possible and would need help from non-conference foes.
Mountain West Commissioner “Fireball” Thompson said the conference would do everything possible to help the Aztecs under such circumstances.
“They’re the two-time defending conference champion.”
In breaking news on Tuesday, the San Diego City Council eliminated $5 million in funding for a special election toward the SoccerCity initiative. This is a huge blow, which makes the prospect of Soccer City even more doubtful, while supporting San Diego State’s goals.
“We’re still interested in the (Qualcomm Stadium) lease extension (beyond 2018) being addressed by the City,” Wicker said. “The lease extension is still sitting down at city hall that the city council and the City can act on. First and foremost we want to, for lack of a better term, resurrect the lease extension and get that acted on and understand where exactly that might be.”
SDSU also is pushing for an RFP (request for proposal) process that could enable the university to build its own stadium.
“We could potentially be leased or sold land to go ahead and build a multi-use stadium at Qualcomm,” Wicker said. “Which, by the way, the Citizens Stadium Advisory Group pretty much did all of the environmental work, so you could build a stadium down there right now.
“Is it possible for the City to do something along those lines, where they would lease us the property or sell us the property, we build a multi-use stadium to house San Diego State football and an MLS team? That’s something we could certainly look at and potentially do as well.”
A multi-use, wholly-owned football-soccer stadium built by San Diego State University is an interesting prospect indeed, and one that is popular among SDSU alumni. It is also an option that would boost a prominent college football program after the city witnessed the departure of its NFL team.
Time will tell if this concept will generate traction, over the current Soccer City initiative- one that is beginning to lose steam amid skepticism over a surprisingly self-serving proposal.