Artist’s rendering of a Mission Valley soccer stadium
  • Artist’s rendering of a Mission Valley soccer stadium
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Fútbol? Football? Everybody chatters about the so-called plan for a soccer/football stadium and surrounding development in Mission Valley. Will taxpayers get fleeced? Why does San Diego State seem so queasy? Should we preserve Qualcomm Stadium lest the Chargers bomb out in Los Angeles and limp back to San Diego? Will the Raiders come to San Diego?

The San Diego Sockers ruled the Sports Arena in the ’80s

The San Diego Sockers ruled the Sports Arena in the ’80s

Another question is critical: is Major League Soccer — the league in which a San Diego team would supposedly play — reputable and financially solid?

The answer: San Diego, watch out.

Not surprisingly, as in the past, a Union-Tribune columnist is labeling anyone who attempts to do homework on the topic an “obstructionist.” This suggests that mainstream media propaganda will be deployed to drown out tough financial analysis.

Media in front of FIFA headquarters for corruption case, 2016.

Media in front of FIFA headquarters for corruption case, 2016.

Last August, when Major League Soccer revealed that at some time in the future, the expansion fee for the league would be $200 million, a writer for said that such an expense could actually pencil out. It’s a medium-term “sit and hold” strategy, said the scribe. “Business owners buy a sports franchise for the medium or long-term: they hope annual revenue covers costs like player salaries, they try to squeeze a publicly financed stadium out of local politicos, they bank on always-increasing TV revenue, and then they sell the franchise at a handsome profit after a decade or two.” In short, they probably need a fat taxpayer subsidy to make the caper work. Remember John Moores? He got huge subsidies for a ballpark and surrounding land, made a bundle, and fled back to Texas.

Discussing pro soccer stadiums, a writer for Sports Illustrated put forward this warning: “Study after study has revealed stadium subsidies to be a remarkably inefficient stimulus [to the local economy], providing a major boost to franchise values but little net benefit to the region that pays. Yet the racket remains alive.”

Major League Soccer — indeed, professional soccer itself — has much in common with a racket. It’s not an association of independently owned teams. Someone sponsoring a team now pays $150 million to the league itself, although the donor is erroneously called the team owner. The league has said an investor, all told, will put “north of $300 million” into a team — $150 million to the league and more than $150 million into a stadium. A stadium, even one seating only 30,000 people, is going to cost far, far more than $150 million — unless, of course, taxpayers pick up a fat percentage of the tab.

The San Diego Sockers won ten championships between 1981 and 1992.

The San Diego Sockers won ten championships between 1981 and 1992.

In mid-2015, the league admitted it is losing money but wouldn’t say how much. Then, the league said average attendance was 21,109 per game. That engendered guffaws. The league’s “attendance figures are even more fictitious than we realized,” wrote Neil deMause of late last year. Some say that through the years, 30 percent of tickets have been giveaways. The league’s marketing honcho now says that freebies are down to 9 percent of attendance, but some cock an eyebrow at that. “If you really think you’re going to have 20,000 fans a night show up and spend money, you should be mentally replacing a large chunk of that number with ghosts,” said deMause, warning cities of the league’s economic-stimulus claims.

The league now has 22 teams and expects to have 26 by 2020. A second Los Angeles team and one in Miami are all but certain additions. Other cities expressing interest are Charlotte, Cincinnati, Detroit, Nashville, Raleigh/Durham, Sacramento, St. Louis, Tampa/St. Petersburg, and, of course, San Diego. Some fat moneybags, such as Tom Gores, former owner of the Union-Tribune, are said to be salivating over the prospects of getting a team. Financially fragile St. Louis, despite being cuckolded twice by the National Football League, is preparing to give a total of $127 million to the hockey and soccer teams, although, mercifully, citizens will vote on the latter next month.

Will soccer succeed in San Diego? Between 1981 and 1992, San Diego was home to one of the most remarkable teams in sports history. The San Diego Sockers, playing mainly indoors, won ten championships and lost out in the semifinals the other season. They played home games in the then-named San Diego Sports Arena, which seated about 14,000. In only one of those years did average attendance go over 10,000. In the other years, it was 7000 to 9500.

The average annual Major League Soccer salary is $317,000, but the median is $117,000. That’s less than the players on major European teams make in a week ($130,600). The average yearly salary for European players is $6.8 million. Major League Soccer has a salary cap of $3.84 million per team. Thus, to make it possible to recruit expensive talent from overseas, the league created the Designated Player Rule, which allows teams to pay a limited number of stars high salaries that don’t count against the salary cap. Still, I went over the league player salaries, as provided by the Major League Soccer Players Union. Very seldom did I see a salary of more than $1 million.

One lure to potential investors is television. But total league yearly TV revenues in the U.S. are $40 million. By contrast, every National Football League team rakes in more than $220 million a year from TV.

Another problem is the worldwide corruption in soccer itself. Switzerland-based Fédération Internationale de Football (known as FIFA) regulates and markets soccer and is in charge of major international tournaments. In May of 2015, the United States charged individuals in the organization with racketeering, wire fraud, money laundering, and other sins. Bribery appears to be a way of life in soccer. Since 2015, there have been internal investigations of the former president of the organization and two lieutenants.

Major League Soccer is tied to FIFA, and that tarnishes the American league.

In 1999, the Major League Soccer entrance fee was $5 million. In 2009, the Seattle Sounders paid $30 million. Then came the big leap to the current $150 million, despite the money being lost.

In 2015, Stefan Szymanski, professor of sports management at the University of Michigan, asked why nabobs pay such huge and billowing sums to enter a losing business. He asked questions about bloated attendance and measly broadcast revenue. He snorted that the league sounds “like a pyramid scheme.” He asked one of his critics if he might be an admirer of Bernie Madoff. And he wondered if the league might collapse.

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Visduh March 8, 2017 @ 8:22 a.m.

To make all this work, the current stadium has to go. But why is that? The city complains about the annual cost for upkeep. (Actually it is probably higher than admitted, in that past upkeep wasn't kept up--pardon the pun--and there's a maintenance backlog there.) The Chargers were essentially paying no rent, so their departure has no financial impact. I've said that there's still a need for a venue for the Aztecs football games, and for the bowl games. But then, the powers that be decided to kill the Poinsettia Bowl, and claim they are going to play the Holiday Bowl at Petco. How they can make a baseball park into a football stadium is a mystery to me. And now it appears that SDSU might be OK with a much smaller stadium than the current one.

There seems to be a remarkable amount of agreement that the old stadium has to go. If someone isn't saying it is a wreck--which is a gross exaggeration, someone else says it is just too big and no longer needed. Then there's the "growth is good" crowd that wants SDSU to get a big chunk of the land for general campus purposes, and use it as a close-by satellite campus. And those proponents claim that SDSU, with its inadequate amount of land, NEEDS to grow. (Personally, I think it is too large already, and that if the CSU system needs more seats for students in this county, a logical step would be to add another campus, probably in So County.)

Pardon me if I'm a skeptic about the receptivity of the local potential fan base for soccer, despite the large Latino population in the county. If all of those redevelopment plans were going to be financed privately, or in conjunction with some CSU money, that would be one thing. But you point out here that there is another taxpayer ripoff brewing, and that this scheme will need a big taxpayer contribution initially, and probably in perpetuity. The city cannot afford any more of these wonderful ideas. When the massive infrastructural maintenance backlog is worked off, maybe something like that could be considered. Just keep in mind that the backlog is growing right now, not shrinking, and that under best-case assumptions it would require decades of heavy spending to erase it.


Fred Williams March 10, 2017 @ 5:58 a.m.

Imagine a university that invested in education instead of sports shows.

Imagine a city that didn't waste tax money subsidizing sports shows.

Imagine a country that didn't divert attention and assert nationalism through sports shows.

Sports shows make people stupid, complacent, and easy to manipulate. That's why serial con men like John Moores buy them, trading on the misguided love of the plebes for a team to mask a grand scale robbery of the public.

Sports shows distract from important issues, and provide a convenient source of shock troops. Oppose a stadium give away and you'll have burly groups of fans threatening you online and in person. Every fascist movement in history has had the rabid support of sports fans in the vanguard of their most violent mobs.

A nation than pours money, prestige and attention to sports shows is squandering opportunities, deluding itself with self-congratulatory propagandist slogans, and dooming a too large percentage of its young people to life long injuries in the name of entertaining the fans.

Sports shows, games, school subverting entertainments that rely on abusing the bodies of young men to entertain businessmen and sell beer...are no more moral than strip clubs. But at least in strip clubs the entertainers are more likely to finish their education and be functionally literate than the average college football scholarship-serf.

San Diego had reason to be proud, rejecting the extortion of the Spanos clan.

For the so-called leaders of the city to to immediately rush into throwing more money at more sports shows is shameful.


Visduh March 10, 2017 @ 9:22 a.m.

Some elaboration of your comments would be worthwhile. For all my life, I've seen men (mostly) who were interested in current events only if they involved a sporting activity. Look at the sheer number of ESPN channels vs. those that cover general news events. For almost all my life, I watched men, and not just limited to blue-collar, Joe six-pack types, grab a newspaper and scarcely glance at the main news, local news, financial news, or anything other than the sports section. In high school classrooms when newspapers were still generously provided, the boys would ask to see "the paper", but take only sports, and pore over it avidly. Look at anything else? Fuhgedabouddit! You mean there was something in those other parts worth knowing about? Uh, well, yes there was.

The conclusion that I reached was that sports was fun stuff, and all that other news forced you to think. Worse yet it forced you to think about unpleasant events or even tragedies all round the world. That was a downer, whereas some player's ERA wasn't anything bad at all. So, that emphasis on sports you decry is the true "opiate of the masses" in the present day world. Thus sports push real critical thinking about economics, politics, overall culture, science, and the arts out of minds. That's the shameful aspect of it all.


Fred Williams March 10, 2017 @ 9:28 p.m.

You've pointed to the underlying reason the UT will disappear very soon.

The UT has survived on the revenues of sports related advertising (and content) for a generation. Hence its dishonest all out assaults on anyone opposing sports subsidies.

Now it has lost the Chargers, and the reason most paid for the paper. No one reads the UT for its insights on economics, politics, or foreign affairs.


Don Bauder March 11, 2017 @ 3:04 p.m.

Fred Williams: An academic study should be made of this. What happens to a daily newspaper after a team leaves town? You may have opened a number of eyes with your observation.

Keep in mind, though, that many read a newspaper for the advertising. Many read it for the comics. It used to be that people read it to check the stock listings. Now even the Wall Street Journal doesn't run a comprehensive list of stocks. And papers don't run the race results these days. (The race results and stock market listings often get the same readership.) Best, Don Bauder


Don Bauder March 11, 2017 @ 2:58 p.m.

Visduh: Karl Marx coined "opiate of the masses" to describe religion. I think that analogy works equally well with sports, and I confess I never thought of it that way. The sports page is escape literature, particularly for men and boys.

The time spent on the sports page should be spent reading the A section. This is particularly true these days. Some of the worst things in our nation's history are going on in Washington, D.C., and too many people read the sports page because they don't want to know about it. Best, Don Bauder


Don Bauder March 10, 2017 @ 10:32 a.m.

Fred Williams: Welcome back! Where have you been? Are you still in Hungary? Your points are well taken, but there is a problem: societies going back two thousand years or more have worshipped sports. Look how the Romans loved to watch so-called sportsman slay animals, animals kill some of the sportsmen, and sportsmen kill each other.

Sports are good for high school and college women and men. But money always ruins the fun.

When I was in seventh and eighth grade, we played in a basketball league of about eight suburban Chicago towns. It was a big deal, attracting fairly large crowds. A new superintendent of schools came in and unilaterally declared that from then on, there would only be intramural games. Parents screamed. Students threatened to go on strike. He was run out of town. Best, Don Bauder


Fred Williams March 10, 2017 @ 9:32 p.m.

Still in Prague. Still in IT. Still following what happens in my home town. Still amazed at the open theft of public property by the San Diego oligarchs.

If only sports were recognized as the realm of children, and given appropriate respect for its role in society. A fun distraction, gets kids running around, a friendly competition.

When sports shows become a partner of government, promoted by schools at the expense of education, partner of military recruiting, money-rolling morally bankrupt politicians, it has exceeded the bounds of its natural place and must be opposed, exposed, denounced, and denuded of its undeserved and dangerous prominence in public life.


Don Bauder March 11, 2017 @ 3:12 p.m.

Fred Williams: Oops. My bad. I thought you were in Hungary. The year we went to both countries we fell in love with Prague and the Czech Republic, although we enjoyed Hungary.

Your observations remind me of one of the most money-draining events in the world: the Olympics. Almost invariably, the host country loses a bundle of money. Best, Don Bauder


Don Bauder March 8, 2017 @ 10:07 a.m.

Visduh: The group putting forward the first redevelopment plan claims the soccer stadium won't be subsidized. But others who have studied the proposal say the group proposes to pay very little for the land. If true, that is a hidden subsidy. That land is valuable. (I haven't yet gone through the proposal, and won't soon, because Papa Doug Manchester has already tossed out a competing idea that would be based on football, not soccer. He would rehab Qualcomm; that's a good idea. He would try to bring in a NFL team, maybe the Raiders. That would require a subsidy and is not good.)

It bothers me that the league is relying on massively inflated attendance numbers. That is an attempt to get civic leaders to conclude that a soccer team is helping the economy. As virtually every objective study has shown, a subsidy to a pro sports team does NOT stimulate an economy. Giving away land to a developer (as in the Moores/Petco example) is a loser to the community. Why not let market forces determine the usability of land?

Worldwide, soccer is the most popular sport. Football appears to have peaked. But now, I doubt soccer can be forced on most metro areas. Supposedly, it would attract immigrants in the population. But in San Diego, those immigrants have very low salaries. So ticket prices would have to be very cheap -- so cheap that the team might not make money. Best, Don Bauder


ImJustABill March 8, 2017 @ 2:43 p.m.

The Raiders seem likely to move to Las Vegas. They secured a big 750M gift from NV taxpayers and recently secured financing from BofA to cover the rest of their stadium cost. They just need approval from 3/4 of NFL owners to finalize the move - which sports pundits seem to think is likely.


Don Bauder March 8, 2017 @ 8:46 p.m.

ImJustABill: It does look more likely that the Raiders will move to Vegas. Remember when the NFL, whose owners have traditionally been high rollers, piously would barely admit it knew where Vegas was?


ImJustABill March 9, 2017 @ 6:56 a.m.

750M in public money can buy off a lot of piety.


Don Bauder March 9, 2017 @ 7:30 a.m.

ImJustABill: Excellent observation. I would not be surprised if, before too long, fans in Vegas will be able to bet on a game from inside the stadium on game day. This will quickly spread to the rest of the NFL. (It's done in Great Britain.)

As I have pointed out in several columns, the NFL and the gambling industry are connected at the hip. Historically, the NFL was founded by gamblers for the purpose of gambling on Sundays. Best, Don Bauder


Don Bauder March 8, 2017 @ 10:20 a.m.

Maryanne Beckham: Because of its deep infrastructure and pension deficits, San Diego can't afford to dump money into a professional sports team of any kind. San Diego State isn't loaded with money, either. If SDSU has an abundance of lucre, it should go into education, not sports.

I am not sure it is wise to tear down Qualcomm now. The Chargers may come back, tails between their legs. Manchester's idea to recruit another team could work, as long as there would not be a subsidy. The NFL wants a team in San Diego, although I am not sure why: incomes are moderately above the U.S. average, while the cost of living is one of the highest in the U.S. Thus, personal seat licenses are out. of the question.San Diego's mix of corporations and of wealthy individuals does not suggest that luxury suites would be very profitable. And there is too much else to do in San Diego for a much lower cash layout than the cost of a NFL game ticket. Best, Don Bauder


aardvark March 9, 2017 @ 9:50 a.m.

Don: The Chargers are not coming back.


Don Bauder March 9, 2017 @ 10:25 a.m.

aardvark: Yes, the Chargers are not likely to come back, but if they can't make it in L.A. -- a possibility -- they could conceivably swallow their insufferable arrogance and return to San Diego. Best, Don Bauder


aardvark March 9, 2017 @ 10:39 a.m.

Don: They aren't coming back under any circumstances. The League would never allow it.


Don Bauder March 9, 2017 @ 11:44 a.m.

aardvark: Why wouldn't the league allow it? Al Davis took the Raiders from Oakland to L.A. and back to Oakland. He sued the NFL, which was trying to keep him from relocating the team to L.A. He fought constantly with the league (and just about everybody else), but I don't recall that the league disapproved of his move back to Oakland. If you can show me otherwise, I will humbly recognize that you are the winner. Best, Don Bauder


ImJustABill March 10, 2017 @ 9:15 a.m.

I've heard a lot of "the NFL would never do ..." until someone pays a bunch of money and it just happens. We heard a lot about how the NFL owners would never support Stan Kroenke because he wasn't as well liked as Dean Spanos but then Stan comes in with 2B+ and all of a sudden everyone loves Stan.

The league would never allow a team to move to Las Vegas either. But 750M in public subsidy later - voila! All of a sudden Vegas is a great place.

I'm convinced that IF San Diego were to offer a huge public subsidy (something I would be strongly opposed to) to an NFL team then San Diego could certainly attract either the Chargers or another team.


Don Bauder March 10, 2017 @ 10:39 a.m.

ImJustABill: San Diego is the 17th largest metro area, but it is not a great pro sports town. Incomes are moderate but the cost of living is extremely high. Ergo, personal seat licenses wouldn't work. The mix of businesses is not advantageous for luxury suites or seats. There is too much else to do all year that costs a lot less than a ticket to a pro sports game. Best, Don Bauder


aardvark March 9, 2017 @ 12:29 p.m.

Spanos is not the rogue owner that Al Davis was. Neither is Mark Davis. They will play by the rules the NFL gives them.


Don Bauder March 10, 2017 @ 10:41 a.m.

aardvark: I don't think anyone is a rogue owner to match Al Davis. Davis's son and Dean Spanos are not the swashbuckling kind. Best, Don Bauder


MURPHYJUNK March 8, 2017 @ 10:29 a.m.

keep in mind with developers, "the bigger the smile, the sharper the knife"


Don Bauder March 8, 2017 @ 8:47 p.m.

Murphyjunk: That's good advice with developers, and with executives in other industries, too. Watch the insurance companies as the Republicans try to replace Obamacare. Best, Don Bauder


Joaquin_de_la_Mesa March 8, 2017 @ 2:39 p.m.

The city would be better off using the existing stadium to host international games, particularly those involving the Mexican national team. Those sell out. Of course, sooner or later in international soccer someone has to be paid under the table to make anything happen.


Don Bauder March 8, 2017 @ 8:49 p.m.

Joaquin_de_la_Mesa: Yes. International soccer lives on bribery. Current criminal charges in the U.S. and Switzerland won't change the culture, even if some go to prison. Best, Don Bauder


FJL March 8, 2017 @ 4:17 p.m.

1) I believe the NFL would love to have San Diego on the list for the annual party it throws for billionaires and huge corporations. After New Orleans & Miami, is there a better city to host the Super Bowl? 2) Knowing that soccer tickets won't cost $150 game, the sports popularity among the youth, and with the diverse population we have, I do believe attendance could average well over 20,000/game. 3) I'm sure the revenue from the football programs at Ohio St and Alabama, for example, goes a long way to funding other sports and recreation for both sexes. Has a study been done on the Aztecs football revenue and potential? With the right marketing and schedule, I think they could thrive in the right venue.


ImJustABill March 10, 2017 @ 9:23 a.m.

According to this chart in 2014-15 SDSU sports had about 49M revenue and 53M in expenses - more or less breaking even. Pretty typical for a mid-major conference according to this table.

IMO the only potential move the Aztecs should consider would be to the PAC-12. That would make sense geographically and there are already a lot of alumni from PAC-12 schools in SD.


Don Bauder March 10, 2017 @ 10:46 a.m.

ImJustABill: Is SDSU ready for the Pac 12? Expenses would be a helluva lot more than $53 million. Best, Don Bauder


aardvark March 10, 2017 @ 11:54 a.m.

It would be nice if the Pac 12 would offer us membership. It's doubtful they would add SDSU however, since the current Pac 12 membership loves to recruit the talent from the SD market. They would have to share local talent with SDSU, which they don't want to do.


Don Bauder March 11, 2017 @ 1:42 p.m.

aardvark: It's true that the most talented San Diego players wind up in the Pac 12 in several sports. Still, I believe SDSU has more important things to ponder than moving into one of the toughest leagues in the nation. Best, Don Bauder


ImJustABill March 10, 2017 @ 9:28 a.m.

My GUESS is that MLS would do pretty well here - probably draw 20k+. There's a dearth of pro teams now that the Chargers have left, and there is a large immigrant population here (not just low-paid undocumented immigrants but higher paid legal immigrants in the tech sector).

Soccer really isn't my thing but if other people like it that's fine.

As long as the FS group doesn't insist on any public subsidy (and their proposal should be carefully examined for hidden subsidies) I wouldn't have a problem with an MLS team coming here.


Don Bauder March 10, 2017 @ 11:18 a.m.

ImJustABill: If no subsidy is involved, I think an MLS team would be fine, although I don't think it would do as well as you think -- 20,000 fans a game sounds high to me. However, the FS proposal is so recondite that there is a great likelihood that a substantial subsidy is hidden in there. That is one reason why this should not be rushed. Best, Don Bauder


Don Bauder March 8, 2017 @ 8:54 p.m.

FJL: I agree the NFL would like to have San Diego as a host of Super Bowls -- but only if taxpayers shelled out money for a stadium, and, hopefully, San Diegans aren't falling for that scam now. You may right about youth attendance, but that is what my family, and others, thought in the 1980s when the Sockers won 9 out of 10 championships, but couldn't get even mediocre crowds at the arena.

Are the Aztecs ready for big-time football? That takes money. Those interested in education think learning is more important than football. Best, Don Bauder


Don Bauder March 8, 2017 @ 8:55 p.m.

Mike Murphy: The developers who now, incredibly, have the mayor's blessing say they won't be getting a subsidy. Don't believe it. Best, Don Bauder


Don Bauder March 8, 2017 @ 9:01 p.m.

James Stroud: Team owners and developers have numerous ways to hide stadium subsidies. Sure, the developers say there will be no public money. Please don't believe them. Best, Don Bauder


Don Bauder March 9, 2017 @ 7:36 a.m.

Marisa Call: If you can't build a NFL stadium seating 60,000 for less than a billion dollars, how can you build a soccer stadium seating 30,000 for $150 million? Best, Don Bauder


MURPHYJUNK March 9, 2017 @ 7:54 a.m.

cost more when they inflate the cost to get more taxpayers money?


Don Bauder March 9, 2017 @ 10:30 a.m.

Murphyjunk: If there is a public vote, team owners usually deflate the cost, not inflate it. After the subsidy passes and architect's plans are put on the table, the realistic cost expands. Best, Don Bauder


MURPHYJUNK March 18, 2017 @ 8:52 a.m.

the inflation ( "unforeseen costs" ) happen after they get the deal.


alexisness March 9, 2017 @ 10:16 a.m.

Hi Don,

You're speculating on costs. But, have you read the initiative. It says nothing about use of public funds.

Also, the Sockers are still playing.

Thanks, Marisa


ImJustABill March 9, 2017 @ 10:33 a.m.

It depends how much the land is sold for. The FS proposal talks about $50M for the 166 acres.

Other stories have suggested the land could be sold for $594M

That's a big difference.

The question would be how independent is a supposedly independent 3rd party appraising fair market value.


Don Bauder March 9, 2017 @ 11:51 a.m.

ImJustABill: Exactly. One place where the subsidy could be hidden is in the price of the land the developers purchase. If the city lets them buy it for well under the recognized value, that's a hidden subsidy. The developers claim there is no subsidy because they don't want it to go to a vote. But as soon as they published the long, long, long proposal, it was obvious to me that this would be a great hiding place for a subsidy. Best, Don Bauder


Don Bauder March 9, 2017 @ 10:33 a.m.

alexiness: The initiative is an enormous document, highly technical. Developers want it to go through the council, not be put up to a vote. But council members won't read that thing. Just big enough to hide subsidies in. You might read works by Judith Grant Long explaining how subsidies are hidden. Best, Don Bauder


MURPHYJUNK March 9, 2017 @ 12:51 p.m.

once again "don't look behind the curtain "


Don Bauder March 10, 2017 @ 11:21 a.m.

Murphyjunk: That's why everybody is in such a hurry. They don't want anybody examining the proposal too carefully. Best, Don Bauder


ptaupier March 9, 2017 @ 9:55 p.m.

Don, this is a poorly researched, poorly written hatchet piece. I'm left wondering what is the conviction behind it? A good old midwestern disdain for the world's game as it grows in stature, popularity, quality and yes profitability in our country? I encourage you to revisit your points made, only do a little more research this time, check your facts further, and refrain assuming negatives that "could" happen (i.e. hidden subsidies). Please. San Diegans deserve better editorial journalism (even when free). At a minimum, a modicum of accuracy will be appreciated.


Don Bauder March 10, 2017 @ 11:25 a.m.

ptaupier: What is the conviction behind this piece that you think is so wretched? What's behind it is more than 30 years of studying concealed scams by professional sports team owners and real estate developers. Best, Don Bauder


ptaupier March 14, 2017 @ 9:37 a.m.

Bald, generalized curmudgeonly cynicism is no substitute for fact checking, portending of knowledge, and care for truthfulness. Your piece IS wretched. And your hatchet dulled. You owe yourself and San Diego a revisit and proper effort Don. You are (I think) better than this.


Don Bauder March 14, 2017 @ 11:45 a.m.

ptaupier: A lot of fact-checking went into the column that you denounce as trash. And "alternative facts" were not allowed. Best, Don Bauder


ptaupier March 15, 2017 @ 12:02 a.m.

You can dislike, oppose, suspect, object to soccer or the FS plan all you like as your editorial choice. Distorting facts or not bothering to check them sufficiently, then stubbornly standing by the errors makes this a hatchet piece. I see some accurate corrections noted within in this comments thread above and below, but you don't acknowlege them or have the decency to suggest you'll have a second look. A lot of your facts are wrong.


Don Bauder March 15, 2017 @ 7:26 a.m.

ptaupier: The column dealt with the league, Major League Soccer. There are legitimate questions about this outfit.

in the Q&A section, there were references to the strategy of the local wanna be developer. Let's just say this: when any developer and pro sports team come up with a very dense, multi-page plan, and then want the city council (not voters) to OK it in a big hurry, any intelligent person should smell a rat. Best, Don Bauder


shirleyberan March 9, 2017 @ 10:18 p.m.

Would rather watch American football than soccer, probably because of how I grew up. Maybe because it's a better game for skill and intensity. Cost should stop inflating, surely won't. Wouldn't want my child in sports over everything else. Not a hockey fan either, needless violence expected, crazy mom's. Don - Is it nuts to want another NFL team?


Don Bauder March 10, 2017 @ 11:27 a.m.

shirleyberan: It is not nuts to want another NFL team. It is nuts to subsidize another NFL team. Best, Don Bauder


Dave Rice March 9, 2017 @ 11:57 p.m.

A few thoughts...

MLS, being played in a format much more familiar to an international audience than the WISL Sockers played in, should have broader appeal. I was a kid in the days of the first indoor Sockers dynasty and loved it (my parents likely loved the low cost of entry as well), but I don't know that interest there translates directly into interest in the game played worldwide.

The success of Tijuana's Xolos seems to indicate that there's a cross-border interest in pro soccer regionally. But Mexico's pro league is at present much more prestigious than MLS, and winning there seems to have a bigger impact than a MLS team that might or might not be a winner could have here - that's a gamble.

Can a stadium compromise that fits for both SDSU and the as-yet-unannounced MLS franchise be reached? It seems the ideal MLS venue seats around 30,000 which, given the findings above, might even be a bit generous. Meanwhile, I've heard that the up-and-coming SDSU handegg program wants a capacity of 40,000 or so.

The Murph is a dump, and the haphazard add-ons over the years have only made it worse. Before I grew up I was a diehard Chargers fan and spent a decade traveling to other NFL digs - only the since-retired site for 49ers games came close to being as poor a facility of the dozen or so I saw (Atlanta's now-defunct facility was a paradise compared to San Diego). Though the "buy us a new stadium!" campaign had been ongoing for years when I started traveling, I didn't believe it necessary until I saw the venues other NFL teams enjoyed. Still, while deficient by league standards, public investment in a stadium for the soon-to-be-in-decline NFL was and rightly is a hard sell.


Don Bauder March 10, 2017 @ 11:36 a.m.

Dave Rice: Subsidization of any kind of pro sports stadium in San Diego will be, and definitely should be, a very hard sell because of the massive infrastructure and pension deficits. There simply is no money to subsidize professional sports.

Qualcomm seems like a dump to many people because other pro sports teams are getting new stadiums every 25 years, and taxpayers are picking up much of the tab. This is a disgrace. Some perfectly good university stadiums that have been maintained properly are more than 100 years old. Qualcomm is not old by such standards. Why should a stadium used 10 times a year for football be so splendiferous? It makes no sense when there are so many other important things that public money should be spent on. Best, Don Bauder


Jose_Garcia March 10, 2017 @ 11:13 a.m.

Why on earth would an NFL draw in San Diego. look at these attendance figures from the Riptide.

San Diego Riptide Yearly Results Season Record Pct. Playoffs Avg Attendance 2002 7-9 0.438 W-at Bakersfield, L-at Peoria 6,899 2003 6-10 0.375 No playoffs 5,557 2004 8-8 0.500 No playoffs 4,127 2005 5-11 0.312 No playoffs 3,611

That shows that no-one today wants to watch football.


Don Bauder March 10, 2017 @ 11:38 a.m.

Jose_Garcia: It would be great if no San Diegans wanted to watch football, but it isn't true. Lots want to watch football. Unfortunately, they want governments to subsidize the stadium. Best, Don Bauder


Jose_Garcia March 10, 2017 @ 2:44 p.m.

My point is the Sockers attendance in the 1980s, in a building that only holds 12,884 poeple has as much to do with an MLS franchise in 2018 as the Riptides's attendance in af2 in 2002-5 has on the potential for the draw of an NFL team. But yeah, I'm no fan of corporate government welfare, but your analogy based on their expected attendance is way off base. Compare it to the 27,000 (half of which are coming from San Diego) that attend soccer games in a privately funded stadium in Tijuana.


Don Bauder March 10, 2017 @ 3:57 p.m.

Jose_Garcia: I find outdoor soccer boring, but I admit I have seen little of it. Too many times, the teams play to a 0-0 tie and the game is settled by a player trying to get it in the net after the action is completed. Contrarily, I love indoor soccer. There is lots of scoring and playing of the ball off the sideboards, a la hockey.

You think the huge success of the Sockers in the 1980s has no bearing on an outdoor team if a stadium is built. I disagree. To each his own. Best, Don Bauder


Don Bauder March 10, 2017 @ 11:47 a.m.

Paulo Mancebo: Garbage article? Funny. I just took the garbage to the dump this morning. I didn't include the article you denigrate. Best, Don Bauder


Don Bauder March 10, 2017 @ 11:49 a.m.

Mike Murphy: Good question. Why does the any development of the area require a sports stadium? Another question: should that area be developed at all? How about a nice park? Best, Don Bauder


ImJustABill March 11, 2017 @ 3:03 p.m.

I was thinking of a similar question - why does a soccer stadium require development? Why does the FS group need 100+ acres for a 20,000 seat soccer stadium? How about put in an offer for 20 acres - should be enough to build a soccer stadium and parking structure - and have a period of open bidding to get the true free market value.


Don Bauder March 11, 2017 @ 3:25 p.m.

ImJustABill: After John Moores got all that land in the ballpark district for a song, San Diegans should be alert to sports/real estate scams. Best, Don Bauder


ImJustABill March 11, 2017 @ 4:25 p.m.

Another thing I was thinking was about the "fair market value" for something that the buyer wants to buy in a rush.

I remember being in Wellington, NZ on a tour bus - and hearing the tour bus driver tell us how Peter Jackson (Lord of the Rings director) was building a huge estate after he offered his neighbors 3X market value for the adjoining houses. I think Mark Zuckerberg did something similar to build his mansion.

Point is, if a buyer really, really, wants to buy something, and buy it in a hurry, the buyer should be offering WAY MORE than the supposed "fair market value". If the soccer guys really, really, need to complete the land purchase arrangement to meet some 2017 deadline that's fine - but the deadline doesn't mean the city should rush. It means the city is in a strong negotiating position and should be demanding a premium valuation for any public land.


Don Bauder March 14, 2017 @ 11:53 a.m.

ImJustABill: Whenever promoteurs tout a development, and draw up recondite plans hundred of pages long, and then want the city council -- not the voters -- to pass the proposal quickly, there is a good chance scam is in process. Best, Don Bauder


MURPHYJUNK March 15, 2017 @ 7:50 a.m.

"should that area be developed at all? How about a nice park?" someone needs ( wants) to make a buck off the land, thats why.


Don Bauder March 10, 2017 @ 12:23 p.m.

UNION-TRIBUNE PLAYS UP ESTIMATE OF HOW SOCCERCITY WILL STIMULATE ECONOMY. The Union-Tribune today (March 10) splashed on its front page a puff piece on how the proposed SoccerCity development in Mission Valley will stimulate the economy. Upon completion, the project will have an annual economic impact of $2.8 billion, claimed the San Diego Regional EDC and the company AECOM, which spearheaded the analysis.

Some things were left out of the story. Economists almost unanimously pooh-pooh the estimates of economic stimulus of sports stadiums. Similarly, the estimates for real estate developments are generally inflated.

Three years ago, AECOM Capital, AECOM's financing arm, along with Lowe Enterprises and Atlas Hotels, undertook a major facelift of Town & Country Resort & Convention, located near Mission Valley, not far from where SoccerCity hopes to establish itself.

In the second paragraph, the Union-Tribune repeated the putative developer's song, "no public subsidy." Is the U-T sure that there are no hidden subsidies in the complicated proposal?

NOTE: Be sure to read Matt Potter's blog item today, "Secrecy shrouds Faulconer's SoccerCity favors." A big stink is already beginning to emanate from this proposed project. Best, Don Bauder


ptaupier March 15, 2017 @ 12:12 a.m.

How disengenuous! The economic impact study purports benefits not only as to stadium. It includes economic activity aroound housing, hotels, retail, entertainment, office space, tourism, and related employment too. If the UT's piece was puffery (and you were a doing journalism) you might have challenged the details. Here you've merely reduced the scope of the study to one piece of the economic generators (stadium). That big stink? It's your clumsy axe grinding.


Don Bauder March 15, 2017 @ 7:33 a.m.

ptaupier: The housing-related development should get as much or more scrutiny as the stadium plans. Once again, the conclusion is obvious: DON'T HURRY THIS POTENTIAL MONSTROSITY. Best, Don Bauder


Don Bauder March 10, 2017 @ 3:59 p.m.

sdsocialdiary (Margo Schwab): It sounds like you are sooooo ready to have a pro soccer team. Are you in favor of a government subsidy? Best, Don Bauder


Don Bauder March 10, 2017 @ 4:01 p.m.

Margo Schwab: How did you become such a soccer lover? Best, Don Bauder


ptaupier March 15, 2017 @ 12:26 a.m.

It usually begins by playing the game, or attending a match, Don. The more relevant question: How is it you've managed to avoid the world's most popular game for so long? Is this a culture war issue to you?


Don Bauder March 15, 2017 @ 7:38 a.m.

ptaupier: I stated that in the 1980s, our family went to numerous indoor games of the Sockers. One son had season tickets. We only went to a few outdoor games because there weren't many in those days. Best, Don Bauder


Don Bauder March 10, 2017 @ 4:03 p.m.

RedCarpet KIMA: Yes, soccer is the world's most loved sport. In South America, the fans love it so much that they cut a referee's head off after he allegedly blew a call. Best, Don Bauder


Ponzi March 11, 2017 @ 7:58 p.m.

"On the Internet, nobody knows you're a dog"

But we do know that Kima is Margo's dog.


Don Bauder March 11, 2017 @ 9:58 p.m.

Ponzi: That is right, to the best of my memory. Kima is Margo's dog. Best, Don Bauder


sdsocialdiary March 12, 2017 @ 7:40 a.m.

Yes KIMA is a dog... a rescue.... p.s. - she has been used by the Arthritis Foundation and American Heart Association to help raise funds!


Don Bauder March 14, 2017 @ 11:56 a.m.

sdsocialdiary: KIMA gets lots of attention, to be sure. The dog is becoming a media darling. Best, Don Bauder


Don Bauder March 14, 2017 @ 9:49 p.m.

Ponzi: Agreed. KIMA is a beautiful dog. Best, Don Bauder


shirleyberan March 10, 2017 @ 5:04 p.m.

That activity belongs in sick extreme sports.


Don Bauder March 10, 2017 @ 8:31 p.m.

shirleyberan: I don't think anybody filmed the beheading. Best, Don Bauder


sdsocialdiary March 11, 2017 @ 10:04 a.m.

Don ** love's a great sport... went to the World Finals in Mexico City way back ... a great sport... great the outfit?


Don Bauder March 11, 2017 @ 3:28 p.m.

sdsocialdiary (Margo Schwab): I love that outfit, and your pose.Best, Don Bauder


Don Bauder March 12, 2017 @ 2:22 p.m.

sdsocialdiary: But wait until I am arrested for sexual harassment. Best, Don Bauder


Ponzi March 11, 2017 @ 8 p.m.

Don, I don't know much about or follow soccer.

Is there any city in the U.S. that has a soccer area/stadium the scale of what these promoters are proposing for San Diego? Would San Diego stand out as an experiment in this effort?


Don Bauder March 11, 2017 @ 10:02 p.m.

Ponzi: San Diego would not be a canary in the coal mine. There are 22 teams in the league, which wants 26 by the year 2020. The big metro areas -- New York, L.A., Chicago -- have teams. There are a number of metro areas that claim they want to get in the league. Best, Don Bauder


SportsFan0000 March 13, 2017 @ 1:26 a.m.

SD Taxpayers better BEWARE OF DEVELOPERS, SPORTS OWNERS AND SPORTS LEAGUES "BEARING GIFTS"... It is almost always a for profit, taxpayer subsidized SCAM. These owners/developers/leagues are not licensed charities. They are looking for the next sucker city to swindle taxpayer subsidies out of. READ THE FINE PRINT ON THESE PROPOSED "GREAT DEALS"...MOST OFTEN BEHIND THE "WIZARD OF OZ" STYLE OUTLANDISHLY EXAGGERATED PROMISES, the City/County/Taxpayers are on the hook for big subsidies and are required to "make good any losses".

Wait for competitive bids and proposals for the Qualcomm site. SD is being rushed into a "rebound deal" that is highly suspicious and sounds too good to be true. Jumping into the first deal that comes along is completely foolish and leaves tax payers very vulnerable to being swindled, again.

It is like a long time married couple divorcing and then going out and quickly hooking up with a mail order partner...probably not the best idea...


Don Bauder March 14, 2017 @ 12:01 p.m.

SportsFan0000: It always tickles me that the business community touts free enterprise, competitive bidding -- and then urges politicians to pass, quickly, a proposal that is so complicated nobody will read it. Best, Don Bauder


ptaupier March 15, 2017 @ 12:18 a.m.

I think it is eminently safe to state that Bauder will not read it.


Don Bauder March 15, 2017 @ 7:45 a.m.

ptaupier: Papa Doug Manchester is already in the competitive race. I just read that the current developers are now putting a football stadium into othe plans. Are they appeasing Manchester? I suspect, however, that several proposals will have to be digested. I expect more. At some point I will read all the proposals. Now it is too soon. Best, Don Bauder


ImJustABill March 13, 2017 @ 10:13 a.m.

Interesting piece in Sunday's U-T by Dan McSwain.

"It can be difficult to distinguish an outright con from the ordinary hard sell. Both typically mix complexity with a ticking clock. Act now!"

"The combination transfers at least $100 million in value — and maybe much more — from taxpayers to the developer, according to the back of (McSwain's) envelope."


Don Bauder March 14, 2017 @ 12:03 p.m.

ImJustABill: Those two paragraphs should be pinned up on every bulletin board in the city. Best, Don Bauder


Don Bauder March 15, 2017 @ 7:59 a.m.

Mike SoCal: Your arguments are interesting. I hope you don't believe that these arguments are a rationale for hurrying a complex development scheme. I hope you realize that a developer's desire to hasten a very complex plan that would not be voted on by the people is a ticket to being scammed. Best, Don Bauder


ImJustABill March 15, 2017 @ 1:52 p.m.

Mike SoCal:

The "open" aspect of soccer leagues is fascinating. It sounds like a good idea in principle but I wonder how it would work in the US. From what little I know it sounds like it works well in Europe.

The bottom line problem with the FS proposal really has nothing to do with soccer. The problem is that it's a very complicated proposal dealing with a lot of money and important public decisions - which are required to be made over the course of a few months. There just isn't enough time for city leaders and voters to get a proper understanding of the proposal in time to responsibly approve it before the MLS expansion application deadline.

If the FS group's main interest was really just in bringing an MLS team to SD they should have just bought 15-20 acres of land somewhere in SD County without all the strings attached to the Mission Valley site.


Don Bauder March 15, 2017 @ 4:06 p.m.

ImJustABill: Any time a salesman wants you to make a decision immediately on a complicated proposal, hold on to your wallet. Best, Don Bauder


Don Bauder March 16, 2017 @ 9:43 a.m.

Mike Murphy: Basically, soccer worldwide is MORE corrupt than other sports. Best, Don Bauder


Don Bauder March 16, 2017 @ 9:44 a.m.

Mike Murphy II: I am delighted to see Donna Frye speaking out on this potential scam, and also delighted to see KUSI permit her to do it on camera. Best, Don Bauder


aostvapk Nov. 15, 2019 @ 10:10 a.m.

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