Landon Donovan Interview on MLS Coming to San Diego
Could San Diego become a real soccer city and get an MLS team? Could professional sports really flourish in America’s Finest City? As opposing groups begin to make noise, the overwhelming positives of this initiative to bring MLS to San Diego gathers supporters — but its time to rally and make sure our voices are heard.
The reports that “taxpayers will be subsidizing $200 million” and that there is no reason for a “rushed, special election that will have a low turnout” is simply fake news and misleading.
“SoccerCity Needs Your Help!”
SoccerToday spoke with super soccer star Landon Donovan on the benefits of Soccer City San Diego and what the fuss is about — sorting fake news from fact.
Soccer News: As the days dwindle down to when MLS has to decide if San Diego will become a Major League Soccer city, those who oppose the Soccer City San Diego proposal have begun to let their voices heard. With opposing groups and involved parties taking the platform, sorting fake news from fact is super important.
“Join us on Monday, June 5th for the City Council Meeting to make sure our voices are heard,” says Landon Donovan.
Elimination Round 1 Meeting at 202 C Street, 12th floor starts at 2 PM – people are starting to arrive at 12:30 – Stand Strong at City Hall
America’s iconic soccer star, investor and spokesperson for bringing MLS to San Diego, Landon Donovan is the driving force in the community outreach throughout the city. As a man who helped win a record six MLS Cups, Donovan knows the power an MLS franchise can bring to San Diego — but, more importantly, this U.S. Men’s National Team legend knows how it can help soccer grow in our community.
Diane Scavuzzo caught up with Donovan to check in and discover the latest news on what is turning into a social media war between Soccer City San Diego and the opposition.
Diane Scavuzzo: What would an MLS team in San Diego do for the city?
Landon Donovan: I’ve been here a year and a half and one consistent message from San Diegans is that we want to do something that makes us relevant and that pushes San Diego to be a city of the future.
We are sick of being passed over. This is an opportunity that only comes once in a lifetime.
There’s no question that Major League Soccer is the league and soccer is the sport of the future.
Diane Scavuzzo: What can people do?
Landon Donovan: There are a lot of things people can do, but most importantly, if you want this to happen and live within the city of San Diego, you can call/email/write your city council and let them know why you want this initiative to happen.
People need the opportunity to have their voices be heard and their vote to count.
You want your vote to count, right?
We need to fight for Major League Soccer and the river park – something that is good for San Diego without taxpayer money.
Diane Scavuzzo: Taxpayers won’t be paying a dime for this project?
Landon Donovan: No.
We’ve said over and over that taxpayers will not be paying for this.
We have a group of investors that have created a lot of wealth and they want to fund this. They want to do something that is great for the city.
We want to do this — without taxpayers having to pay for it.
Diane Scavuzzo: What impact does MLS have on a city?
Landon Donovan: I think sports in general has a very positive impact on a city. In particular, MLS has proven now that it galvanizes a city in ways other sports can’t. We’ve seen that recent MLS expansion clubs become the pride of the city.
We want to feel this pride in San Diego.
Diane Scavuzzo: In Europe soccer is a huge source of pride for the township. Is that what you’re referring to?
Landon Donovan: Yes. I think that there is something very different about this sport — people connect with their city through the sport. I’ve seen it over and over again in this country and others — there is a passion that is unlike any other sport.
People realize that they have the opportunity to do something like that right here in San Diego — something special that will affect generations for a long time to come and they want to be a part of it.
Diane Scavuzzo: Do you think having an MLS team will generate money for San Diego?
Landon Donovan: There is no question. Having a sports team brings in revenue for the city. Having a project that we have proposed in Mission Valley will bring in a lot of money initially for the city and then years and years of tax revenue, in addition to that.
There’s also a component that we don’t talk about enough, which is the ability to bring in foreign teams to play here, stay in hotels, eat our food and see our city’s attractions.
There’s a big tourism piece to this. We want to make this an international city that is well recognized across the globe and we feel soccer is a great way to facilitate this.
Diane Scavuzzo: What do you say about traffic — will MLS coming to San Diego make traffic worse?
Landon Donovan: (laughs) Traffic for me is a not as big an issue. I lived in Los Angeles for 12 years so there is no traffic in San Diego — with all due respect — like there is in LA.
There will be $50+ million put into traffic improvements.
The money is privately funded and this issue is important to our investors.
Diane Scavuzzo: Do we have a name for the team?
Landon Donovan: No.
Landon Donovan: We don’t have a date. We discussed naming the team this fall. A lot will be based on what happens in the city council vote in June.
Diane Scavuzzo: Opposition is trying to push a vote until next year and not have a special election… If the city passes on a special ballot in November and there is no vote until 2018, what happens?
Landon Donovan: The project is dead. The group that is opposing us is calling themselves, Public Land, Public Vote, which ironically would be the name we should have had — It is public land, and we do want a public vote.
But we need a public vote that matters. MLS Can’t wait.
We need to put the vote on the ballot in 2017 – whether people are opposed or not for it – so we can actually have everyone’s vote heard.
If we wait, the project is dead.
We need the special election on November 7th, 2017
Diane Scavuzzo: Why is the deadline this year?
Landon Donovan: Major League Soccer will choose the next four cities approved for expansion at the end of this year.
Diane Scavuzzo: What happens if we miss this round, can we just wait for the next one?
Landon Donovan: There will not be a next round, if we don’t get this done in 2017.
Diane Scavuzzo: What does the opposition want to do with the land?
Landon Donovan: They are rival developers and they want the land for their projects. I understand why they are taking this position, but we are doing something great for this city — not just developing.
Diane Scavuzzo: What about the stadium?
Landon Donovan: They have said they can build their own stadium. Ours would be ready sooner, but … It’s hard to know exactly what their motives are.
Diane Scavuzzo: What do you think of the conditions of Qualcomm Stadium?
Landon Donovan: Have you been to Qualcomm? (laughs) I would say it’s not suited to be a 21st century stadium — especially for a town as beautiful as this.
Diane Scavuzzo: Would having an MLS team in San Diego be better than an NFL Team?
Landon Donovan: Depends on your point of view.
Economically, there is a big benefit if a city is hosting 30+ soccer dates a year compared with 8 home games for an NFL team.
Given everything we are going to do here — the whole site is going to be developed in a way that adds lots of revenue to the economy and a huge tax base for the city. The Chargers playing at Qualcomm didn’t provide that.
Diane Scavuzzo: Skeptics talk about how plans for parks always get delayed – or never happen. How likely is it that the project comes together and that San Diego gets the park in the pictures?
Landon Donovan: Two things would happen immediately, the stadium has to happen immediately so SDSU and us have a place to play. Right now SDSU has nowhere to play in 2020.
And, the river park gets built.
We will start development of the park before we build any condos, apartments, retail, etc.
That is the exact opposite of what other developers do. We are building a world-class park from the beginning, on the front end and not waiting for revenues to come in to build it.
Diane Scavuzzo: What would be the earliest you have a youth academy running?
Landon Donovan: In theory, if this goes well, beginning of 2018.
I want to start the fun stuff. I want to build a world class youth soccer academy.
I want to give young girls and boys a better life like I’ve received from this game and I want to help them do that.
Instead we’re spending time fighting people with self-interests.
Diane Scavuzzo: What would you say to the soccer clubs in the region?
Landon Donovan: We have tried our best to speak to basically every youth club in some way.
We need the support of the local youth soccer clubs, and not in a passive way – we need real support.
Which means writing their city council members whether it’s the parents or the kids saying that we want this to happen and to have it this year on the ballot.
We need to tell everyone that soccer is a game that is in the hearts of San Diegans.
It is simple. Write a letter. Ask you players to write letters. Here is an example — But please add in your letter, “Allow us to vote for this in November of this year!”
Additionally, we need clubs — and we will speak to them about this — to proactively and publicly support this project so that the community knows that this is something the soccer world is desperate for and really wants.
I think if we do these things, we have a much better chance at making MLS happen.
If you can come, please attend the
SAN DIEGO CITY COUNCIL MEETING on June 5th at 2 PM at the
CITY ADMINISTRATION BUILDING COUNCIL CHAMBERS – 12TH Floor
202 “C” STREET, SAN DIEGO, CA 92101
In related news, former U.S. Women’s National Team member Shannon MacMillan has also joined as a member of the advisory board and as an investor. FS Investors is the group that presented the proposal for Soccer City SD.
Article Revised Slightly at 8 PM –