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This post originally appeared in the July 21 Politics Report.
The SoccerCity versus Friends of SDSU wars are about to heat up. But there was a lingering issue hanging over the fight: Where would San Diego State play football in 2019? The university’s lease at SDCCU Stadium expires, and the mayor and some City Council members seemed to want to close the stadium and save the up to $8 million the city loses every year on operations and maintenance (never mind the $4.5 million the city is still paying on debt taken on to rejuvenate the stadium in the ’90s.)
The setup: The university pays the city $1 per football ticket sold. It paid the city almost $154,000 to use the stadium last year.
After the Chargers left and everything was thrown into question, SDSU officials had said they would be willing to shoulder the city’s full cost or make sure the city did not lose money to keep it going while a long-term deal was sought.
But negotiations dragged on for two years.
It presented a fascinating showdown: The city had clear financial motivation to close the old stadium and SDSU was probably not willing to pay $7 million. But the city gave up any bluff that it may force the Aztecs out when it made a deal this year with an upstart professional football league the Alliance of American Football.
The news: Finally, city staff and SDSU have agreed to a tentative deal: According to a staff report, the university has agreed to pay the city $1.1 million every year, rather than the small per-ticket surcharge. The City Council’s Smart Growth and Land Use Committee will consider the new deal Wednesday.
What it means: The increase in rent is huge but the city is now significantly subsidizing SDSU football. It’ll add pressure to get a long-term deal in place as soon as possible.