Another “Stadium Conundrum” In San Diego

Living about 3,000 miles from San Diego, I observed the waxing and waning of the prospects of a new football stadium there pretty much as an intellectual exercise.  Obviously, residents in the area could see the “intellectual aspects” of the question – – but they had other emotional and direct financial concerns that had to take center stage in their decisions.  What I did not realize then – and am only now beginning to be aware of – is that the San Diego St. football team and program may be casualties of friendly fire in the saga that would up sending the Chargers to LA.

The San Diego St. Aztecs have played their home games in Qualcomm Field for a while now; they have a lease to continue to play there through the end of the 2018 season.  What is the big deal, you ask?  Well, that is only two years in the future and there are movements afoot to raze Qualcomm Stadium around that time.  Compounding the problem is that there is no other top shelf football venue in San Diego to absorb the Aztecs’ games.  Holy dispossession, Batman…

As usual, money is at the heart of this issue.  With the Chargers out of the city and their presence in Qualcomm no longer an impediment, the tract of land on which the stadium and its parking lots sit has become one of the most valuable and sought-after bits of real estate in all of So. Cal.  One investment group estimated the value of this tract of land at $13M per acre.  Let’s do some math:

  • A football field is 120 yards long or 360 feet long.
  • A football field is 160 feet wide.
  • The area of a football field is 57,600 sq. ft. or 1.32 acres.
  • If that investment group is correct, the field itself at Qualcomm – forgetting all the other area involved in the stadium and the parking areas is worth $17.2M.

No offense to the San Diego St. football program but that stadium and its attendant spaces is worth a lot more money than Mountain West football is going to generate.  And that is the fundamental reason why San Diego St. football is not in a happy place at the moment.

There are plenty of “plans”/”options” floating around.  One has the school and an investment group “partnering” to build a dual use football/soccer stadium on the site.  When you talk about a soccer stadium in the US, you are talking about something that will seat 30,000 to 35,000 folks.  If San Diego St. aspires to move up in the pecking order of college football, a home stadium of that size is a deal-breaker.  Before you think that San Diego St. has no chance of “moving up”, remember it was only a couple of years ago that it applied to become part of the Big 12 when that conference was thinking about adding new blood.

Maybe the short-term answer is for the Aztecs to play home games at Petco Park – home of the Padres.  That would work until the Padres make it to the MLB playoffs and need to play games well into October.  The team could schedule around home stands if they end in September – – but not if they go all the way to Halloween.  Or is it too fantastical to think about the Padres seriously in relation to the World Series?

Since I am on the subject of college football – sort of – let me comment on some recent remarks made by Alabama coach, Nick Saban, regarding college scheduling.  All he wants to do is to change the landscape of football scheduling and the way bowl game participants are selected.  Other than that, it would be “situation normal” …

In an interview with ESPN folks, Saban said that schools in the Power 5 conferences should only play teams in the Power 5 conferences; that would eliminate many of the sacrificial lamb games where teams like Alabama pay a Division 1-AA team to come to Tuscaloosa for a glorified scrimmage.  On balance, that is a good idea.

He also wants teams selected for bowl games to be done based on some sort of “power ranking” and not based on team record.  This is the way March Madness selections and seedings are done and let’s just say that process is not without controversy.  It is not an exact science by any means.  The good part of that idea is that a football selection committee could create a larger number of interesting bowl games as compared to the current system where individual bowls have contracts with various conferences to supply teams just so long as the teams have won 6 games in the season.  The fact of the matter is that games between two teams at 7-5 – no matter the conferences – are only marginally interesting.

Saban’s idea to reduce the number or patsy games – against Division 1-AA opponents or against bottom feeders in the “strap-hanger conferences” of Division 1-A – would mean playing more games inside one’s conference and/or scheduling far more competitive out of conference games.  As a fan, I like where that idea can possibly lead.

Here is a potential downside.  There are 5 “strap-hanger conferences” I Division 1-A and schools in those conferences can use the big paydays that they get from playing the top-shelf teams even if it means getting humiliated on the scoreboard.  Nick Saban’s idea would consign those teams to a lower economic status – and economics plays a huge role in a successful football program at the collegiate level.  The same goes for those bowl games that I find tedious at best because they involve teams that just are not very good – no matter what their record says.  The fact is that the money from those bowl games is important to those programs and if things move to a “power rating selection process”, some of those schools will be on the outside looking in.  They just will…

Nick Saban is not out to feather his own nest here nor is he thinking along lines that will destroy college football.  I do not like all of his ideas but they deserve consideration simply because it is always possible to take a really good product and make it better.

Finally, sticking with today’s “theme” of college football, consider this comment from Brad Dickson in the Omaha World-Herald:

“My biggest takeaway from Big Ten media days: We need to get Minnesota coach P.J. Fleck to switch to decaf.

“How excited was Fleck at media days? Picture Richard Simmons with his finger in a light socket.”

But don’t get me wrong, I love sports………



8 thoughts on “Another “Stadium Conundrum” In San Diego”

  1. What if the idea of 5 power conferences and 5 lower conferences all playing only in their “level” was combined with the European idea of relegation/promotion. Pair each of the power conferences with a geographically similar lower confernece. Top and bottom teams swap out each year. Could work?

    1. John:

      I suggested something like that a while back but turned the “Power 5” in 4 conferences of 16 teams with 8 in each division and the rest of Division 1-A into a simolar structure. Then you relegate the bottom four teams and advance the top ones from the lower level.

  2. Couldn’t the San Diego St. Aztecs pit their home schedule against Top Ten teams only and thus raise funds? How would Nick Saban treat that idea?

  3. It is an interesting problem for the Aztecs, and the Pac-12 since its tie in Holiday Bowl is also played at Qualcomm. I haven’t been to Petco so I cannot assess whether it can be reconfigured easily. However, since I have haunted AT&T in football configuration I can say that it would be an uneasy fit and the sightlines aren’t very good. The alternative is probably Torero Stadium (which would need expansion by 3-4x) or a new building without an obvious place to put one.

    1. rugger9:

      It seems to me that the folks in San Diego have made it clear from their actions over the past 15 years or so that they are not willing to spend public money to build a football stadium. San Diego St. may be a casualty of friendly-fire here…

  4. This whole thing is slightly confusing / confounding to us S D locals. It is hard to believe that the Q’s acres of asphalt and crumbling concrete are worth $13M, but property values here do seem to imitate Dirac delta functions at times. Petco could work with possible schedule jiggling, and the trolley system and slightly improved parking in that area are reducing traffic hassles. As rugger9 notes, an expansion of USD’s Torero Stadium from its current 6,000 seat capacity would be a must if seriously considered. I seem to remember your ability to overcome bothersome bureaucratic potential barriers – why not offer your skills to our intrepid city leaders?

    1. Price:

      First of all, this has to be one of the VERY few sports blogs on the Internet where Dirac delta functions are mentioned. Scheduling a stadium for baseball and football as an overlap is never easy but it is indeed possible. Lots of dual-use stadiums in the 70s, 80s and 90s did that and the Oakland coliseum still does that. Nonetheless, it is hardly ideal.

      Baseball is played on a field that is “approximately square” and football is played on a field that is “twice as long as it is wide’. This is why rugger9 pointed out that sightlines aren’t very good in a “square field” trying to accommodate a rectangular sport – – or vice versa.

      Indeed, there was a time in my life when I tilted at the windmills of bureaucracy. Those days are in the rear-view mirror. The intrepid city leaders in San Diego do not want to hear from me and I have no interest in dealing with them – – although I would enjoy the weather in San Diego when I visited…

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