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ESPN FC  By ESPN staff

Developers behind San Diego MLS push at odds with SDSU over stadium

Major League Soccer has come a long way from 10 teams that started in 1996 to the 22 that kicked off the 2017 season.

The group trying to start an MLS team in San Diego has released a revised plan that has the support of the mayor, though it is still opposed by San Diego State University.

Mayor Kevin Faulconer publicly endorsed the plan for the first time on Friday. In response, SDSU said it was "disappointed in the mayor's actions."

The school said earlier in the week it has cut off talks to share a stadium as the centerpiece of a $4 billion "SoccerCity" development at the site of aging Qualcomm Stadium, where the university plays football. The city is looking to close Qualcomm by 2018 after the NFL's San Diego Chargers moved to Los Angeles.

FS Investors, the developers' group leading the charge for an MLS team, proposed that it and the university will both pay $20 million toward a joint-use stadium, with the state picking up the other estimated $200 million.

The developers collected more than 112,000 signatures for its initiative and the City Council could soon place it on the ballot for a special election in November.

But SDSU is also looking to use at least 35 acres of the 166-acre land to expand its campus, and the initiative sets the land value at as little as $10,000. The new plan adds recurring bonus lease payments to come later.

A proposed MLS stadium is the centerpiece of the $4 billion SoccerCity development plan.

SDSU board member Jack McGrory told the San Diego Union-Tribune that FS Investors has offered to sell some of the land back to the university at as much as $13 million per acre.

"I said 'no, no, no,'" McGrory said. "'If you sell us the acreage, it will be at the same price you're buying it from the city.' They balked at that."

FS Investors' new terms double the land available to SDSU but also comes with a deadline -- if the school doesn't agree by Dec. 1, then the soccer stadium will be built at a capacity of 23,500 seats rather that 33,500 -- perfect for MLS but too small for college football.

"Topics like this are complicated and require dialog, something university leadership has refused to engage in for months," project manager Nick Stone told the newspaper.

SDSU athletic director J.D. Wicker has said SDSU is prepared to build a stadium on its own. The football team could play for one season at Petco Park, the downtown home of baseball's Padres.

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