U.S. Soccer President and USA Bid Committee Chairman Sunil Gulati announces San Diego as one of the 18 cities to be submitted to FIFA as part of the bid to host the 2018 or 2022 FIFA World Cup at the ESPN Zone in Times Square, NYC, NY, on January 12, 2010.

San Diegans (San Diegians?) like watching soccer on television. We know this from the World Cup ratings, where the city consistently showed up at the top of the list. With so many eyeballs on the game in a city without a serious professional outdoor team (apologies to the Flash), a missive on why San Diego has been "shut out" by MLS appeared a few weeks back.

Though poorly phrased, the question is reasonable. San Diego has a case if we buy those TV numbers as proof that it could support professional soccer; there's a leap of logic there, because it's impossible to know if all of those people sitting at home watching World Cup soccer would pony up their cash to watch a lesser product in person.

Where the linked column fails is by putting the onus on MLS to come running to "soccer mad" San Diego. This is America and this is soccer, which means that placing a franchise in a city is more about an owner or group with deep pockets and a willingness to stomach possible (likely) losses than it is about simple enthusiasm for the game. St. Louis could share a story or two.

Not that I really blame our columnist friend for pumping up his city (which, in the blustery langague of local sports columnists, requires taking a few shots at other cities as they he does it). His job is to whip his readers into a frothy frenzy with his "why not us" rhetoric, never mind the small details of owner and stadium. It's perhaps a little more disturbing that the soccer promoter interviewed to bolster the San Diego-as-MLS-market claims glosses over, or gets wrong, the stadium issue. Soccer in Qualcomm is not something the league will willingly accept; as more clubs move into their own facilities, soccer in an NFL stadium as anything more than a temporary solution is a bad idea. At least he got the expansion fee issue mostly right.

The reason the column returned top of mind after first reading it two weeks ago was a response by something called the "San Diego Fact Check Blog." By contacting the league office, the blog got to the bottom of the statement it would take "something like a $30 million franchise fee" to get a San Diego team into MLS.

It's more than that now, of course, and the stadium question will always be at the top of the MLS expansion check list. As attractive as San Diego appears to be, we come back to the issue of ownership; San Diego Fact Check Blog suggests the only way San Diego is getting an MLS team is if Dean Spanos (son of Chargers owner Alex Spanos) can be convinced to buy a soccer team, or, and I'm fairly certain this is a sarcastic statement, the city itself purchases a team. Without so much as a whisper from any monied interests about San Diego as a candidate, the whole thing is a non-starter. For now.

There is another possibility, that an existing MLS club move to San Diego. This would still require a stadium deal, but doesn't need an investor. A certain LA team comes to mind as a candidate for relocation, but that's just a best-fit determination, not a declaration that Chivas USA should leave LA or that San Diego should be their destination.

San Diego's TV numbers rightly prompt the discussion of Major League Soccer in the city. My guess is that a Division II team is more likely in the near future, but if San Diegans continue to prove themselves one of the better soccer crowds in the country, MLS might eventually end up there.

We don't know who will be twenty, or how long the league will sit at that number. Garber and his crowd consistently mention the need for a team in the Southeast, and if a wider national footprint is the overriding factor, it won't matter if San Diego pops up with an ownership group and a stadium deal tomorrow.

I'm not convinced the World Cup TV numbers indicate a serious interest in live professional soccer in the city. But if anyone in San Diego is reading this and you'd like an MLS club in your city, might I suggest the Sons of Ben approach.

San Diego is included in the World Cup bid (see image above) so it's not as though everyone is shutting it out.
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