SoccerCity San Diego Re-Launches with New Definition
The day after the primary election, SoccerCity SD kicked off their campaign push towards November with an epic event at Stone Brewing in Liberty Station.
Former United States Men's and Women's National Team players Landon Donovan and Shannon Mac Millan, who have both joined the SoccerCity team were on hand to thank fans for their support and to have a little fun in a family-friendly environment akin to what SoccerCity would cultivate in the heart of Mission Valley.
Both Donovan and Mac Millan hold legendary status in the American soccer pantheon, but more importantly for them at this stage of their lives is their status as parents in San Diego. Parents who want to build something for the next generation of San Diego.
"When I first joined SoccerCity, it was all about the soccer," said Mac Millan. "But as I've gotten to know Landon better, as well as Nick and Mike and everyone else involved in this project, I've realized what amazing people they are and that this truly is about a legacy and doing something for the next generation. Priorities change when you become a parent and now that I have a son I want him to have something that he can be a part of."
Donovan also detailed his motivation for being involved in this project, before issuing some instructions to the assembled audience.
What an amazing night. So proud to be part of this movement and the incredible community here in San Diego. Get out and vote YES on @SoccerCitySD on November 6th to make our dream a reality! #OurCommunityOurFuture #NuestraComunidadNuestroFuturo @OSG_SanDiego #SC4ALLSD https://t.co/Ku4Rfpmp5l— Landon Donovan (@landondonovan) June 8, 2018
"I moved here two-plus years ago with my wife and I've fallen in love with this place," confided Donovan. "I feel an obligation to give back to this beautiful place. I cannot thank all of you enough for being here and making this happen. You have two jobs in the next 5 months:
"One is to talk to everyone you know and make sure they know our message is. It's a message of love, of support, of community, civic pride, of ownership in something and being bigger than yourself for this city. Two is to make sure that everybody you know is getting out and voting on November 6th for something that would be truly special and remarkable for generations to come. You have the ability to impact that and say I voted for that, I supported that, I was there on the first day the stadium opened."
According to Stone Brewing, 580 citizens gathered in the twilight hours on Wednesday evening to celebrate San Diego, commune as a society and reorient themselves on the road to SoccerCity.
That road has had more than its fair share of twists and turns.
Since announcing its expansion bid for Major League Soccer, FS Investors and the citizens of San Diego have gotten to know each other quite well as this process has taken on a life of its own.
There was that scintillating ceremony aboard the deck of the USS Midway in late January of 2017, followed by viewing parties, press conferences, community events, radio and tv segments, city council hearings, lawsuits and up until recently quite a bit of silence as well.
Support for SoccerCity has always been very visible and the supporters themselves have always been quite vocal in their validation of the plan. For many, the beautiful game itself is enough of a draw to support the redevelopment of the SDCCU stadium site. For countless others though, the other elements of the plan are sufficient.
Whether it be the fully privately funded development that costs taxpayers nothing, or the support for San Diego State University, or the large entertainment district planned - complete with a music venue, or the proposed $40 million dollar river park that FS Investors have committed to building, there truly does appear to be something for just about every San Diegan out there.
Soccercity plan is more than just something..we all get a riverpark, new major league sport, an MLS/Aztec stadium, entertainment district, affordable housing & still room for SDSU to grow w/ no tax money. But if all collapses, we’re in limbo, we all suffer..except Fenton&Sudberry— Brian (@bnassif23) May 23, 2018
SoccerCity Project Manager Nick Stone was also on hand to issue the rally cry to the gathered supporters.
“Thank you to you the fans who have stuck with us through a year and half of the campaign,” said Stone.
“Tonight is the launch of real drive to the goal which is on November 6th to say yes to SoccerCity and the city of San Diego."
“We’re planning on building an amazing soccer stadium and bringing the first MLS to the city of San Diego. River park. Sports entertainment district. Housing. And this city needs housing.”
In addition to a new stadium to house both the MLS expansion team and (assuming they agree to participate) San Diego State football, the SoccerCity plan also calls for several thousand units of housing to be built on site. San Diego is in dire need of more housing, particularly the affordable variety. Even with projects like SoccerCity there is a substantial need for more housing across all of San Diego.
The city itself has serious budget shortfalls and will be hard-pressed to fulfill all of its obligations going forward. One of the biggest selling points of SoccerCity is the fact that it is privately financed, and requires no taxes or public revenues be diverted into the development.
“It’s not going to cost the taxpayers a dime. I’ve been a lifelong San Diegan,” said City Council member Scott Sherman. “I’ve represented District 7, the Mission Valley site for six years now. With all the turmoil with the Chargers, and all the professional sports drama that has gone on there, we are finally getting the chance to take control of what the future of that site will look like. We have a chance to take control away from politicians who muck it up every time and put it in our own hands. Power to create something permanent and substantial that brings MLS, housing, and more importantly revenue to the city without the city coughing up a dime.”
“I’ve been asked repeatedly why I am doing this,” continued Stone. “For one, I truly believe this is the very best project that will come up for this site for the next generation and a half.”
“I go to bed every night knowing that we’re doing something great for the city, something that’s gonna be great for my kids. I have a four and six year old. And I want them to see something that happens there before they start driving. If we don’t do this then nothing will happen on that site before my four-year-old is behind the wheel.”
“I do it because I know we’re taking care of the university,” continued Stone. “At my core I know we’re giving them what they need, we’re taking care of the, we’re doing this all to promote something that will bind the fabric of this community together. That’s why I get up in the morning and I do this.”
If approved in November, the SoccerCity group plans on breaking ground immediately, in time for their stadium to be complete ahead of the 2021 MLS season. While the FS Investors group has not technically been awarded an expansion franchise to date, they stand at the head of the line for the last two slots available in Major League Soccer.
A week before the big re-launch event, Cincinnati was admitted into MLS, taking the second of four slots available during what is being called the last round of expansion for the top-flight soccer competition in this country. Kyle Kepner recently detailed the status of the nation-wide expansion race in a piece that is well worth reading.
It essentially boils down to this: win at the polls in November, and kiss MLS hello.
With just five months left until the mid-term election though, SoccerCity supporters have their work cut out for them.
“To make this possible we’re going to need your help. We can’t do it without the support of people like you. Who come out on nights like tonight and make the case where we can’t make it Who tell their friends and tell them why they love soccer, or love music or love being outside at the park with their families.”
“We need your help to tell the story of why SoccerCity is so great.”
One big boost to the FS Investors team is the addition of local television personality Lisa Remillard, who made her debut at the event on Wednesday night. Remillard spent the last four years at KUSI anchoring the morning show and has a sterling reputation in San Diego and southern California.
“I am so happy to be here. Good to see all of you. You might, as Nick said, remember me from a TV show I did called Good Morning San Diego.”
Excited to be back at it. 🎤 Working to bring @MLS ⚽️, a world class river park, a place for #Aztec 🏈, an Academy to develop local youth ⚽️talent & an entertainment district! No taxpayer $. For ALL of #SanDiego @SoccerCitySD #soccer #sc4allsd pic.twitter.com/wbvdEWqfQi— Lisa Remillard (@LisaRemillard) June 7, 2018
“What you might not know about me is that I live in Mission Valley. I actually live across the street from the stadium, and I look at that eyesore every single day. I look at it and see that there could be something better there. There could be something for all of San Diego. I want to be part of something awesome for this community. Something great that we can all be proud of. Something for all of San Diego.”
Remillard is indeed a robust reinforcement, and with one of America’s Finest City’s finest citizens on board, it is hard to see how SoccerCity doesn’t dominate headlines across all of San Diego.
Special thanks to Photos by Norris for providing images for this piece.