San Diego Loyal plans makeshift venue

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San Diego Loyal new stadium Image: San Diego Loyal

San Diego Loyal SC (SD Loyal)United Soccer League (USL) Championship expansion franchise – has unlocked plans for a new 15,000-seat soccer-specific venue in the Midway-Pacific Highway neighborhood in San Diego, California, in the US. If given the go-ahead, a brand new stadium for San Diego Loyal would see groundbreaking in 2022.

San Diego Loyal SC is an American professional soccer team based in San Diego, California. San Diego Loyal made its debut in 2020 as an expansion team in the USL Championship.

The USL Championship (USLC) is a professional men’s soccer league in the United States that began its inaugural season in 2011. The USL is sanctioned by the United States Soccer Federation (U.S. Soccer) as a Division II Professional League since 2017, placing it under Major League Soccer (Division I) in the hierarchy.

The blueprint forms part of a process initiated by the City of San Diego to redevelop the Sports Arena site. SD Loyal said the stadium built on demountable structure would serve as the team’s temporary home for “up to a decade” as it tries to grow its fan base.

The 2020 season marks SD Loyal’s debut in the USL Championship after it was awarded an expansion franchise last year. The team currently plays home matches at the 6,000-seat Torero Stadium in San Diego, which primarily serves as the residence of the University of San Diego’s American football team.

SD Loyal will serve as a partner on the Midway Sport and Entertainment District (MSED) project team. MSED will seek to reinject fresh lease of life into an “aging” area of San Diego with the addition of the temporary stadium, and added attractions like a new music venue, housing, retail, eateries, and a 12-acre public park.

The venue became part of one of two proposals to redevelop the SD Sports Arena site, which spans 48 acres (19.4 hectares). The $1-billion revitalization is expected to upgrade the existing indoor arena, provide new entertainment and leisure venues, as well as housing. Most of the site at present is just a bare concrete plain.

The project expenditure will be around $1bn (£799m/€879m) and would look to lend a chic look to the existing 48-acre Sports Arena site. The project would occur in three phases and would be completed by 2029 at no cost to taxpayers.

The MSED project is one of two plans being considered for the reconfiguring of the Sports Arena site. The other is the Brookfield Property Development with ASM Global and would not include a separate soccer-specific stadium.

The modular stadium would form part of the first phase of MSED and work would begin in 2022. SD Loyal said the stadium would act as the “welcoming home” for the team for seven to 10 years as it seeks to secure a permanent digs in San Diego as well as a way to get into Major League Soccer (MLS), the country’s top flight.

Said SD Loyal boss Warren Smith, “We are thrilled to announce our partnership with the Midway Sports and Entertainment District project and are proud to be asked to participate in such an innovative concept. We want our club to continue to be a pillar in the community by creating passion for active sports and healthy living. We’re looking forward to the positive impact a project like this will have on the San Diego community by making it an even better place to live, work and play.”

He added, “Our club cares for the growth of our San Diego community and the new district project provides a great opportunity to transform an underutilized area into a place that celebrates our passion for fun and fitness. Our hope is that integrating with such a mixed-use space will help grow the fan base for not only the SD Loyal team but for soccer in general. San Diego is one of the largest soccer areas, and we want to reinvigorate fan passion for the sport.”

Back in February, the City of San Diego started seeking proposals for the Sports Arena site and is now asking residents to participate in selecting a winning proposal.

Construction shouldn’t last long as nearly all of the structure would be created in mind for only a decade of use. Afterwards, it would make place for other uses.

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