August 30, 2017 could mark the day that changed the San Diego sports scene forever. The Mighty 1090AM has reported that Joe Tsai will hold a press conference Wednesday to announce his plans on a new East Village Sports Arena.
Reports are that his group has been quietly purchasing property in the East Village and has amassed over 80 acres. The sports venue is to be privately funded and will be the home to a new professional lacrosse team. That’s correct, lacrosse. Big deal right? It may not sound like it, but this could change the sports landscape in San Diego forever.
After the departure of the Chargers, many sports fans were left wondering, what now? The FS Sports Group offered to bring an MLS team to Mission Valley as a joint project with SDSU. The Aztecs, however, have since pulled out, stating that they did not feel that the final proposal was equitable to both parties.
The FS investors continued with their plans without SDSU and asked for a special election in November 2017. Their plan was to purchase the property at fair market value, build a soccer venue, a riverfront park, and commercial properties, and set aside land for a future football-sized stadium. The city council voted against a special election in November and now we will have to wait for the 2018 election to decide the fate of the Mission Valley site. SDSU plans to make a push for a new stadium bid as well as a campus expansion.
In the meantime, in comes Joe Tsai. Who is Joe Tsai? Joe Tsai is an Executive Vice Chairman and founding partner for the Alibaba Group. Alibaba is the world’s largest retailer, surpassing Walmart in April of 2016. Mr. Tsai holds a law degree from Yale, which he also played lacrosse for. Joe Tsai currently resides in La Jolla and has a net worth of 10 billion dollars. That’s more than all of the Spanos family combined. He is more than capable of financing a new sports arena on his own. Even with all that wealth, why would he invest so much money into a lacrosse venue? Does he love lacrosse that much?
The answer is yes, he does. However, he’s also a business man. A downtown lacrosse team doesn’t seem to be a fiscally viable venture does it? There has to be something else. With a new sports arena, there is sure to be some new opportunities that the Valley View Arena couldn’t hold. More concerts, convention overflows, college basketball tournaments, and maybe even a move for the San Diego Gulls. Even still, I don’t think that could be all he has envisioned for this property. The Vice Chairman for one of the biggest companies in the world surely has to have greater vision.
Have you heard that the Houston Rockets are for sale? On July 17, 2017, Houston’s President, Tad Brown, announced that the team was for sale. How fitting that a team originally from San Diego would be on the market. Could it be possible? I sure hope so. This is the kind of purchase that would warrant an investment of 80 acres of land and a half billion dollar facility. This would be a game changer for San Diego sports fans. I have always been of the opinion that this is what San Diego needed in the wake of the NFL departure to invigorate our sports scene more than a new stadium.
Before we all get too excited, this is what we have now. A billionaire who resides in San Diego owns 80 acres of land in East Village and wants to privately fund a downtown Sports Arena to house his professional lacrosse team. It’s a start…something that could possibly be the start of something huge. I will take the lacrosse team for now and hope that the Gulls find their way there too, but I will be praying that this could lure an NBA or even possibly a NHL relocation to America’s Finest City.