As the sports world departs Indianapolis from the NCAA Championship games concluding just last night, I wanted to take a few minutes to envision what such an event would look like here in San Diego. This is not very likely to happen with a Men’s basketball Final Four unless the stadium was built with retractable roof. It sounds as if the CSAG is not interested in having one, thinking it is not worth the cost.
For the sake of argument let’s picture an NCAA College Football Championship being held in the site proposed last week by City Councilman Scott Sherman.
We know that the current Qualcomm site is an economic black hole losing the city taxpayers anywhere from ten to fifteen million dollars in lost money in maintenance. Economically, the city operates the stadium from that hole every year. Despite horrible conditions in the locker rooms and stadium that is falling apart the Holiday and Poinsettia Bowls generated $30 million dollars into the local economy, this according to the study conducted by the San Diego State University Center for Hospitality and Tourism.
Since 1978, the two games have combined to generate an economic benefit of over $730 million for the San Diego region. Without a new stadium that continued impact is in jeopardy. $30 million is a lot to generate over one weekend, the Holiday bowl did that with Nebraska and USC who were not as high profile this year as a team competing for a national championship. Still, this resulted in 39,019 fans that traveled from outside the County to attend the game and an estimated 25,556 hotel room nights were sold. Total game attendance at Qualcomm Stadium was 55,789. (USC being close geographically might have decreased hotel nights sold.)
The impacts of a Super Bowl or NCAA Football Championship event here in San Diego are almost intangible but, let us envision the weekend. This is written with Councilman Scott Sherman’s suggested plan in mind.
Wednesday / Thursday Night:
The airport is so busy every shop in the terminals has to give its workers over time. Members of the sports and general media begin to show up. Many of come from cold weather states and post selfies in their short sleeves and shorts to their followers back home. They probably will take and post pictures to friends and followers of the beautiful bay. You can’t buy that kind of tourism advertisements.
The fans start to show up. Wearing their team colors they post pictures by the bay. Seaport Village is filled with visiting team hats and shirts. The bars in the Gaslamp District generate money they only see at ComicCon.
The hotels and restaurants in the Mission Valley become a hub of activity. MTS runs Trolleys between downtown and the stadium around the clock. Tens of thousands of MTS rides are sold between the airport-downtown- mission valley. Over the weekend anywhere from 50,000 to 80,000 hotel nights are sold.
Friday is host to the fan and radio fests at the Mission valley site/ or the convention center. Friday could happen one of two ways.
1) Radio row is set up on the second floor of the convention center. Both local and visiting fans can buy a ticket to an interactive fan fest that includes games and events. Visiting fans will walk around Seaport Village and the Gaslamp looking for restaurants to eat at every table is full. Restaurants pay overtime and hire extra staff for the overflow.
2) The Mission Valley site includes park like tailgating space on top of the parking structure and a San Antonio like River walk between the trolley and the Stadium. This could be used as a fan village. It highlights our beautiful weather and makes use of the space. The experience could be unforgettable.
Tourism maps so visitors how to get to local beaches. All this is posted to Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. Friends freezing back at home start thinking about a San Diego vacation.
San Diego is center of the sports world for the day. The media talks about the wonderful new stadium, the river walk and it is a three day love fest on the City of San Diego. Tourism gets a free boost. Each commercial break opens with beauty shots of the city. The party for the winning team extends through-out Ballpark Village and downtown via the trolley.
Restaurants are still doing huge business for brunch, the airport is slammed. The City is working on a press conference to talk about all the money generated. They start making plans for turning that money into road repair and balance the books overdue infrastructure projects.
Envision it, San Diego. Envision a Super Bowl. Envision a solution. Save Our Bolts is not just about the Chargers it is a civic issue.