In late October 2022, a fan looking for tickets to San Diego Loyal playoff games came across a curious opportunity on Ticketmaster.
User gol1323 posted what he found on the reddit forum r/SanDiegoLoyalSC.
Tickets to see Loyal games in 2023 … at Snapdragon Stadium?
Loyal games are at USD’s Torero Stadium and, as we’ve covered, the team had not wanted to make the leap to Snapdragon for all kinds of reasons but primarily because it was so big, not selling it out would hurt a fan experience they had worked hard to cultivate.
If the team was moving games to Snapdragon, that would be huge news.
Ticketmaster quickly took the listing down. But other fans reported seeing a hype video about the team’s move to Snapdragon.
The move didn’t happen and intrigue about it died. Now, it looks more interesting.
From what we have been able to gather, the team did have plans to play at Snapdragon Stadium. But they were coming together right as a deal between the Sycuan Band of the Kumeyaay Nation, Mohamed Mansour, an Egyptian billionaire and Major League Soccer was coming together.
They wanted to play at SDSU’s Snapdragon Stadium and so, SDSU officials told Loyal leaders they were going in a different direction with soccer at Snapdragon. They had always been clear that if MLS came looking for a place to play, the university would prioritize MLS.
This coming week, that massive deal is set to be announced: Major League Soccer, at long last, is coming to San Diego and they’ll play at Snapdragon.
Here are some tidbits we’ve pulled together.
It’ll be a straight lease: The new team is not purchasing any part of Snapdragon Stadium (university officials have previously indicated that they’d be open to selling half of it or sharing management, etc).
There’s no ancillary development included: Again, the university will still control the land around the stadium and its plans to build housing, university facilities and parks. Other MLS groups have justified the massive fee needed to pay for a share of the giant company that is MLS by trying to do development around the soccer stadiums.
(Sidenote: MLS is not a league of separate franchises like other sports leagues. It’s one big company. Players are essentially employees of the one company, not each team, etc. So when an ownership group joins MLS, it simply buys a share of the large company, not a separate team franchise. And that cost to buy in is what’s estimated at $500 million).
And the team will not be doing major improvements, like a new canopy, on the new stadium.
Comments (there are none): John David Wicker, the athletic director at SDSU, had no comment on how far SDSU had gotten with Loyal before the MLS deal scuttled those plans.
Loyal President Ricardo Campos declined to comment.
“We want to find a way to work together and not create a divide right now,” Campos said.
Final point: Holy smokes. The victory lap SDSU is going to take if they are able to land an MLS team after all they overcame in 2018 is going to be quite the scene.
What the Mayor’s Homelessness Initiative Would Do
Mayor Todd Gloria this week revealed plans to open two safe campsites for homeless residents in Balboa Park and a couple more details about a ballot measure he expects to push next year.
Gloria, who hosted a press conference outside a Barrio Logan hotel the city recently leased to shelter unhoused families, told Voice of San Diego he sees the delayed opening of the project as an exhibit of something he’d like voters’ help with. He thinks voters can help minimize bureaucratic steps that now slow progress on addressing homelessness.
“The procurement processes are slow, and they don’t match the crisis posture that we’re in relative to homelessness and I do believe that the people of San Diego would grant additional expediency in allowing us to do things like this – to get a vendor to do the improvements, to open it quickly,” Gloria said. “This is the kind of stuff that frustrates me personally, but I understand it frustrates the unsheltered families as well as the general public.”
Gloria said he’s seeking input from city and others in hopes of sending a measure to voters in March or November 2024. For now, he’s most focused on making it easier to execute homeless-service projects.
“This current bureaucratic environment is not conducive to what we’re trying to accomplish at the rate I want to accomplish it and I think that we can ask for the voters’ help with that and I believe they’ll give it to us if asked,” Gloria said.
Meanwhile…former Mayor Kevin Faulconer is continuing to work on a 2024 ballot measure of his own. We wrote about what Faulconer’s yet-to-be-unveiled measure’s aims back in March. It’s unclear when the former mayor will take his measure public. We’re told it’s still in the works despite downtown City Councilman Stephen Whitburn’s somewhat similar proposal to crack down on homeless camps – and supply new shelter options.
The Mayor’s Change of Mind
A take, from Scott Lewis: Most criticisms of journalists are bogus nonsense but some are not. And one of them that makes sense is that we don’t often allow leaders flexibility to change their minds without branding them flip floppers or worse.
I agree leaders need to have that flexibility, especially on major dilemmas their agencies face.
This week, Mayor Todd Gloria changed his mind on a topic that we have discussed at length.
Last year, I wrote a column about the tents unsheltered individuals have been putting up in San Diego and elsewhere for more than a decade. In short, the message was that those tents changed everything about homelessness and people preferred them and the communities they could build with them to the shelters and other rooms the city was offering them.
In short, I advised, we should set aside more space where we can tolerate them while clearly identifying where we could not. It’s sometimes best to channel energy you’re fighting against rather than keep trying to oppose it.
“The personal tents are not good. But they represent a human desire to take care of oneself and to build community. The tents reveal not a desire to be on the street but a very human desire to build a home.
“There’s no reason our unsheltered population would not continue to do that on their own if given the space,” I wrote.
The backlash: The mayor’s office was livid and characterized the column as naïve and asserted that I was proposing to leave homeless people on the streets. There were too many barriers to opening safe spaces for people to be: No land was available, workers weren’t available and they weren’t feasible solutions to anything.
So all of this came flooding back to me when I saw the news the mayor himself was proposing these new safe camping sites as part of his greater effort to build up to a big crackdown on the unlawful encampments and offer places where people can go.
I found his acknowledgement to our Lisa Halverstadt really interesting.
“I’ve been very clear, I think meeting with you, that I’ve had reservations about a safe-sleeping approach. But much like I’m asking unsheltered individuals to avail themselves of the options that are provided, I have to hold myself to the same level and say OK, this is not ideal, but it’s better than what’s out there and we have the ability to move and make this possible and we’re going to do that,” he said.
I found that very compelling. The only thing I’d say is, we lost a year and his determination to do this now is proof that sometimes the obstacles leaders see when they don’t want to do something really are something they can surmount when they do want to do something.
Correction: A previous version of this story said the estimated expansion fee for the MLS ownership group is $5. It is $500 million.
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