Connect with us

Los Angeles Chargers

What NFL & Chargers got wrong, both Mission Valley plans for stadium get right

The NFL took a “one size fits all” approach toward a new Chargers stadium in San Diego.

Like a few other things, they got it wrong.

Both current proposals for a Mission Valley stadium that could house San Diego State football, on the other hand, got the size right or close to it.

The Chargers’ measure that San Diego voters rejected in the 2016 general election proposed to shoehorn a 65,000-seat venue into the East Village, near Petco Park.

Even the Chargers acknowledged 65,000 seats were too many, but the team doubted the NFL would promise Super Bowl games if the venue were much smaller.

I argued for a stadium of 40,000 to 45,000 seats to chop down construction costs and create ticket scarcity, in addition to reducing pressure on East Village planners.

“Less is more” made sense due to a California landscape that, for football venues and sports ventures, is extra challenging.

Look around. California isn’t like Texas, Georgia, Tennessee or northeast Ohio, where land is less costly, construction costs lower, and subsidies and sellout crowds easier to come by for football teams.

The NFL went without a franchise in Los Angeles for two recent decades, due to prior struggles there with venues and attendance.

Up in the wealthy Bay Area, the 49ers got a big stadium several years ago, but play before swaths of empty seats in the 68,500-seat venue in Santa Clara. The Raiders, lured by $750 million in free public money, are leaving Oakland for Las Vegas.

Chargers owner Dean Spanos made an interesting comment on the day his team opened training camp last year in Orange County.

Spanos was replying to the suggestion of NFL writer Peter King that the Chargers’ new temporary home venue, a soccer stadium in Carson that seats about 27,000, was “minor league” by NFL standards.

“Is it bad that every seat is sold, and the fan experience is positive?” Spanos said. “How is that bad? You may start to see the downsizing of stadiums in sports anyway.” (I put Spanos’ words in italics for emphasis.)

We’ll see if Spanos’ downsizing forecast is correct. He was off the mark that the Chargers would sell every seat in Carson.

The stadium in Inglewood that the Chargers and Rams will move into in 2020 will have about 70,000 seats and accommodate up to 100,000 for a Super Bowl or other big event.

The venue is being funded with private money, though. And the size is daunting to Team Spanos, which recently undercut the Rams by pricing some seat licenses at one-tenth the cost of Rams prices.

Aztecs stadium size

What’s the right stadium size for the football Aztecs?

Certainly the Mission Valley stadium where they play, at about 65,000 seats, is way too big.

Heck, as popular as the Notre Dame-Navy game was this past Saturday, the counted number of people in the stadium was 56,738 (off 63,626 tickets sold).

Fifty thousand seats, for an Aztecs stadium, was the suggestion last year of former SDSU President Stephen Weber.

Thirty-five thousand seats, thankfully, is what State’s design team, Populous, projects for an Aztecs stadium in Mission Valley as part of the SDSU West initiative.

SoccerCity’s planners are in the same ballpark, forecasting 32,000 seats and 33,500 capacity for Aztecs football games when a soccer-centric venue’s seating would be expanded temporarily.

Let’s not waste time linking either measure — both of which are on the San Diego city ballot for Tuesday’s election — to the prospect of an NFL team planting itself on the same Mission Valley site.

Is close to 50,000 an apt forecast for most Aztecs games?

Average attendance was 28,625 for the seven games last year, the Chargers’ first season out of San Diego in 57 years.

This year, it’s 22,686 through five games.

Aztecs’ figures for 2017, which come from SDCCU Stadium manager Mike McSweeney, show three crowds over 30,000: the opener against UC Davis followed by a popular fireworks/light show (34,111), the upset of Stanford (34,631) and a high-stakes game against Boise State (38,744).

The other crowds ranged from some 18,000 for Nevada and New Mexico, to some 28,000 for Fresno State and Northern Illinois.

Trending down

This year’s opener, followed by fireworks, drew a crowd of 34,624, per McSweeney, who also provided turnouts at the past four home games:

  • Arizona State: 24,450
  • Eastern Michigan: 19,623
  • Air Force: 15,661
  • San Jose State: 19,071.

While SDSU expected a decline due to a less attractive schedule, it doesn’t look like 35,000 seats would under-serve demand.

“Tickets sold, it’s probably a tick under what we’ve been selling,” Athletic Director John David Wicker said Thursday, “but as you transition, people coming to the game, 35,000 is about the right number. It also gives us the opportunity to create some demand. People will know they have to buy tickets (in advance). They can’t just walk up and buy a ticket like they can today. It helps people plan a little more, and it encourages people to show up as well.”

Expanding from 35,000 would be doable, especially on a permanent basis. said Wicker, because seats can be added “pretty easily” near both end zones.

SDSU joining a Power-5 conference such as the Pac-12 seems far-fetched, but Wicker said the relatively tiny 35,000-seat stadium wouldn’t preclude it. “They’re not measuring you by the size of your stadium,” he said. “As you talk about conference expansion, it’s presidents making these decisions. So, they want to know that you’re going to bring value, and value in this day and age is television sets, and the academic reputation of the institution.”; Twitter: SDUTKrasovic

Source Link

Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


More in Los Angeles Chargers