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Without a dime from taxpayers, SoccerCity will transform the Qualcomm Stadium site.
It’s time the world’s most popular participation and spectator sport is welcomed to San Diego, and SoccerCity will do just that. A successful Major League Soccer franchise playing in a spectacular Mission Valley stadium will reinvigorate our professional sports scene while anchoring a major redevelopment of the Qualcomm Stadium site.
The previous tenants of the Q are gone, leaving our city with a $12 million annual carry cost on a worn-out stadium. It’s time to pull it down and move on. It’s time to put the site to a new and better use – a use that incorporates much needed housing, plus hospitality, leisure, office, retail and commercial development.
The economic benefits from this development are compelling, totaling $2.8 billion a year according to an analysis by the San Diego Regional Economic Development Corp. The project, according to the analysis, would create 25,700 permanent jobs and 42,700 construction jobs as well as tens of millions of dollars in revenue for the city, county and schools generated by taxes and fees.
On top of these powerful numbers are the infrastructure and city amenities included in the SoccerCity deal. The development will include the creation of the long-awaited Mission Valley river park that will encompass 43 acres of riverfront land developed to the specifications of the San Diego River Park Foundation.
SoccerCity will also add riders to the San Diego trolley, bringing soccer fans to games or shoppers to stores while homeowners will be able to commute to jobs. The SoccerCity team will contribute an estimated $50 million to construct improvements along Friars Road near I-15 to make sure traffic runs smoothly. There isn’t another major development site in San Diego that offers adjacent major freeways and mass transit plus surface streets like the Qualcomm site does.
Despite what critics are saying, SoccerCity is not a land grab – far from it. I know something about land values, having been responsible for the development of numerous communities in Southern California. I also served as president of the California and San Diego Building Industry associations. This deal is straightforward: The city will determine the value of the land just as it does with other city properties. SoccerCity is proposing creative solutions to take account of our political system’s incredibly lengthy approval process while creating a world-class development that will be the envy of other major cities. SoccerCity is taking a negative situation – the loss of an NFL franchise and the financial sinkhole known as the Q – and making it into a positive with a MLS franchise, modern stadium, major city river park, improved transportation, housing, hospitality, office space and shopping.
As a lifelong soccer fan, I am excited by the strong growth of this worldwide sport in America. It’s a game played and supported by men and women of all nationalities and ages, is affordable to attend for working families and uniquely San Diego if you look at our diversity and culture.
SoccerCity also keeps open the prospects of Aztec football remaining close to home with a ground-sharing program. Soccer and football played on the SoccerCity pitch would provide frequent sporting events throughout the year and generate an exciting community for residents, visitors and the local workforce.
We San Diegans need to make sure that this November, voters will have the opportunity to support the privately financed SoccerCity proposal at the ballot box. This is our opportunity to put the past behind us and move forward into a new sporting era with a game that excites millions of people around the world and can do the same here.
Mick Pattinson is a former president of the San Diego Building Industry Association and the California Building Industry Association, and past vice president of the National Association of Homebuilders. Pattinson’s commentary has been edited for style and clarity. See anything in there we should fact check? Tell us what to check out here.