What’s in a Name?
The San Diego multi-purpose stadium is located in the heart of Mission Valley and has undergone several transformations in its 51-year history. Originally, it was known simply as San Diego Stadium, then Jack Murphy Stadium, moving to Qualcomm Stadium, and most recently, the San Diego County Credit Union (SDCCU) Stadium. SDCCU ended up paying $500,000 for the naming rights through December 31, 2018 and was one of four bidders. The others were Gemini Sports Group, a Phoenix-based company that handles sponsorships and naming rights; Mitek, a San Diego-based mobile technology firm; and Traction Video, a San Diego-based video production company.
SDCCU Stadium holds great historical and cultural significance as it was the first stadium constructed in square-circle "octorad" style, which was thought to be a vast improvement over the other “cookie cutter” stadiums of the time for hosting both football and baseball games.
With a seating capacity of 70,561, the SDCCU Stadium has hosted a multitude of music and sporting events since 1967, including the 1988 Super Bowl XXII, the 1998 World Series, and The Rolling Stones’ “Bridges to Babylon” World Tour.
Most notably, it was the was the longtime home of one college team and two professional sports teams: the San Diego State University Aztecs, the San Diego Padres and the San Diego Chargers. Prior to moving to Los Angeles, the Chargers played at the stadium from 1967 through 2016, while the Padres played home games at the stadium from 1969 through 2003 before moving to Petco Park downtown in 2004.
The SDCCU Stadium lost one of the most popular and profitable events held at the venue with the relocation of the Chargers to Los Angeles. The NFL stated that it wouldn’t consider future Super Bowls at the stadium without some exhaustive upgrades. In fact, following the decision to move the team to Los Angeles, Super Bowls were awarded to other three cities that either made substantial financial investments in new stadiums or made recent renovations to an existing one.
This paves the way for new potential uses for the SDCCU Stadium, which is music to the ears of those who follow big commercial real estate news in San Diego.
The Future of SDCCU Stadium
While nothing has been confirmed regarding next steps on how to reinvent the Stadium, ideas continue to flow and new plans continue to be introduced into the broader conversation:
- JMI Realty recently proposed the idea of converting the space into student and faculty housing, along with adding research and academic areas dedicated to UCSD and SDSU students. The plan also includes a 35,000-seat stadium, a hotel, and substantial retail and commercial space.
- Under the plan recommended by FS Investors, a La Jolla and San Mateo investment group, the current stadium would be leveled, leaving sufficient room for housing, office space, two hotels and a 55-acre park. 15 acres of land would be reserved for the NFL’s potential return to San Diego.
- Developer and former Union-Tribune publisher Doug Manchester advocated remodeling over demolishing, adapting the structure for limited SDSU expansion and a new soccer and football stadium.
As with any proposal of this nature, the above proposals have their fair share of flaws. JMI Realty suggested the city donate the property to both UCSD and SDSU. FS Investors claimed its project would generate 93,133 vehicle tours on MLS game days, which equates to more than 2.5 times the Chargers’ game-day traffic. And Manchester’s proposal lacks the detail and forecasting provided by the other two groups.
However, each idea also offers a considerable amount of value. For example, a university center would attract intelligent people and offer student housing. The other idea directly challenges the city’s housing crisis and sends a message that San Diego is capable of being an NFL town once again.
A Great Opportunity, but Tread Lightly
While it may seem like an easy fix on the surface, the stadium is a valuable piece of commercial real estate and its future shouldn’t be decided lightly. Many view the property as a huge opportunity, while others find it contentious and implore the use of a long-term strategy as opposed to simply implementing the first opportunity that comes along.
Of course, looking at the bigger picture, whatever happens at the stadium site won't unfold just yet – or even within the next few years. City leaders suggest that it could take decades, but the important thing is to have a good, solid master plan in place.
There are no limitations on who or what companies and products may be submitted as names for the stadium. But, it’s premature to select or reject any plan at the moment being that there are several factors for investors to consider, including timelines, budget, space, traffic, maintenance, environmental impact and much more.
Deciding how to allocate space within a 166-acre plot of land isn’t easy. Needless to say, this is a defining moment for San Diego County and a great opportunity for those interested in a San Diego commercial real estate investment.