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………



Had Enough Yet?

A regular reader of these rants lives nearby; yesterday, I happened to run into him at a local shopping strip and he thanked me for not writing about LaVar Ball three times a week like lots of other outlets do.  We got to chatting and I explained to him that I think LaVar Ball is a sports media and social media creation; he started out with saying some outrageous stuff about his son being better already than Steph Curry and that he could have taken Michael Jordan back in his prime; when that got him publicity, he escalated the outrageousness and that made him a mainstay for media coverage.  I think he is far more toward the “showman” end of the spectrum as opposed to the “sportsman” end; that is why I rarely write about him.

His latest antic – claiming that a female referee at the Las Vegas AAU tournament was fat, out of shape and incompetent and that she should “stay in her lane” – was beyond outrageous; it was offensive.  The media created LaVar Ball; the twits on Twitter and the “Faceboobs” made much of his stuff viral – not in the infectious sense but in the widespread sense.  Until those regions of modern society tire of his antics, please expect more of them and they will be more outrageous/offensive as time goes on.

But that conversation got me to thinking about the following question:

  • Which recurring sports story/sports topic are you most tired about hearing about?

LaVar Ball has to be on that list – – but he is surely not alone.  I have a few other candidates to suggest for your consideration.

  1. OJ Simpson: When he is released on parole in a few weeks, I have no interest in hearing about any retrospective on his murder trial, his Nevada imprisonment, his life adjusting to freedom, his golf game or his continued hunt for the real killers. I don’t know about you, but I have heard everything I ever want to hear from or about OJ Simpson.  Period…
  2. The NFL Draft:  Howard Cosell said about 35 years ago that Pete Roselle should get and Emmy and an Oscar for staging the most over-rated/over-propagandized annual event in sports.  If Cosell were alive today, he would think the hoot-doodle surrounding the drafts in the 1980s were “the good old days”.  Think about it for a moment folks; the NFL Draft for 2018 is still 9 months away; no college football team has played even a single down in the 2017 season.  Not to worry; there are already at least a half-dozen Mock Drafts for 2018 out there for your perusal.  I would rather gargle with razor blades…
  3. “Snub Stories”:  These are nothing more than a way for writers or sports radio hosts to vent their spleens for a short period of time.  “Snub stories” sometimes take the form of a team being “snubbed” by not being invited to participate for a round or two in the NCAA men’s basketball tournament; another form is the outrage expressed about a certain player who was not named to an All-Star team or to the Pro Bowl.  The “Snub Stories genre” can also extend to teams who were given a spot in March Madness but were seeded far too low by the author’s yardstick.  I guess these stories make the venter(s) feel good for a moment – or else why do they spend the energy on them?  For me, they are tales told by idiots full of sound and fury and signifying nothing.  [/W. Shakespeare]
  4. Tim Tebow’s minor league baseball accomplishments:  I am not a Tim Tebow basher by any stretch of the imagination; in fact, I think he has gotten a very raw deal from a faction of the sports media who like to take shots at him for his overt religiosity.  Personally, I think the proper label for folks who do that is “bigot”; but that is the topic for another rant.  My problem is that I do not care at all about his successes and/or his failures in the minor leagues.  He is selling tickets for his team – and for their opponents when he and his teammates are on the road.  That is a plus for minor league baseball – – and I happen to think minor league baseball is a wonderful entertainment institution that needs all the support it can get.  Nevertheless, I don’t care if he hits a walk-off homerun in a game against the Macon Bacons, the Greensboro Grasshoppers or the Mudville Nine.  Wake me when he plays for the Mets other than in a game in September when the Mets are 15 games out of first place in the NL East…
  5. Tiger Woods’ progress toward his return to the PGA Tour:  For a period of about 10 years, Tiger Woods was the best golfer on Planet Earth and he played the sports media like a Stradivarius.  Then came the “car accident”; the one where his wife – at the time – “rescued him” by beating out the window of the vehicle with a nine iron.  Then came the injuries and the surgeries and the pain-killer addiction issues.  Tiger Woods is no longer even a competitive professional golfer – let alone someone who is presumably in contention to win any tournament he might deign to enter.  His story is on hiatus; it might be a great story of revival and dominance over great odds; it might be a story of tremendous talent wasted and demons that resided within.  Who cares anymore?  I do not until I know if he will ever be a shadow of his former self as a golfer.  As in the case of Tim Tebow above, wake me when he wins a PGA tournament and then is on the leaderboard the next week against top shelf competition…
  6. Colin Kaepernick … :  I do not want to hear from or about Colin Kaepernick until and unless he gets a job in the NFL or until he turns in his retirement papers and dedicates the rest of his life to whatever social justice causes are important to him as time moves forward.  The bottom line is simple here.  He has the talent to make an NFL team.  However, he may not have sufficient talent to offset the baggage he may bring to any locker room because of his actions off the football field.  In the world of sports media, we can surely do without any more “analyses” until he is suited up to play professional football.  OMG, what will the Twitter Twits do without this topic trending…?
  7. Pete Rose:  I have had enough.  I know of his on-field accomplishments; I know of his gambling and his prevarications; I am now being treated to stories of him having sex with a minor child about 40 years ago.  Enough already …

Finally, I have confidence that there are other sports stories that readers here will have had enough of and that they will share them with the rest of us.  Meanwhile, consider this comment from Brad Rock in the Deseret News about another form of “overdosing”:

“A charity hockey game in Buffalo lasted 11 days.

“Reports say a dozen people were sent to the hospital after overdosing on organ music.”

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