A San Diego Stage Not Worthy of Performers
On Wednesday afternoon the City of San Diego's Smart Growth and Land-Use Committee voted to send a $1.1 million dollar proposal to renew San Diego State University's lease at SDCCU Stadium to a full City Council vote.
The Aztecs finish their current lease at the stadium formerly known as Qualcomm Stadium at the end of 2018 and are in need a new home for the future of its football program.
Later that same evening, the 52-year old stadium played host to elite guests. UEFA Champions League semifinalists AS Roma took on the English Premier League third place finishers Tottenham Hotspur. The San Diego sports' infrastructure fell well short of the quality of its guests. SDCCU Stadium is by far not an adequate venue for two of the world's best soccer clubs.
The San Diego Chargers knew this, and thus decided to dump the "San Diego" part of their identity and go play in a 27,000-seat soccer stadium in Los Angeles while their landlords finish building a stadium.
On Wednesday night the soccer-crazed San Diego fans came out in typical numbers. The market that produced the best national ratings during last month's World Cup Final drew a crowd of 18,861 fans. A number not far off the 20,079-strong crowd that showed up in January of 2017 for a U.S. Men's National Team friendly in the official return of Bruce Arena to the National Team.
Soccer fans like @DrewStork decided to attend Wednesday evening's European soccer clash despite the bad shape of the stadium.
"Just got up from my 'Premium' ICC seat to almost eat it in my flip flops at this 'acceptable sporting venue' I’ve been coming to since I was in the womb (not hyperbole). I’m thinking this is unsafe. Condemn is maybe too light a word? #goaztecs," tweeted Drew at three of the nine San Diego City Council members who will consider keeping the rusty stadium open longer than 2019 for San Diego State University.
San Diego had never hosted two European soccer clubs (at the same time) before. Real Madrid played against Liga MX side Chivas Guadalajara in 2011 and Club America took on Portsmouth FC back when they were in the top English Premier League in 2010.
To have two of the world's best clubs also draws international journalists to cover the match.
"It is hard to disguise the fact that the stadium is dilapidated," said Steve Clare, an international soccer journalist who founded ProstAmerika.com and who has covered matches all across the world including a FIFA World Cup Final. "It was already becoming obsolete given the number of new stadiums being built. But the sense of decay due to the lack of use is palpable."
Clare will have the opportunity to cover Tottenham Hotspur in a much better setting when the 'Spurs' open its brand new London stadium this season.
While San Diego might not have been ready to host such guests of the magnitude of Tottenham and Roma, there is a plan in place to fix this.
San Diego voters will have to opportunity to affect some change in the upcoming November elections where they can vote for the SoccerCity proposal which wants to build a brand new, state-of-the-art stadium on the same land SDCCU Stadium currently sits.
The proponents of the SoccerCity proposal also included in their plan the purchase of the former Chargers Park facilities where they plan to build a training and housing complex that can accommodate Europe's best teams when they travel to San Diego for international friendly matches in the new stadium in Mission Valley.