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San Diego State University Has New Plans For Qualcomm Stadium Site

The Qualcomm Stadium sits empty Thursday Jan. 12, 2017.

Credit: Associated Press

Above: The Qualcomm Stadium sits empty Thursday Jan. 12, 2017.

San Diego State University Has New Plans For Qualcomm Stadium Site

GUEST:

Erik Anderson, environment reporter, KPBS news

Transcript

San Diego State University officials have reopened discussions with the mayor's office and members of the City Council over the future of the Qualcomm Stadium site in Mission Valley, a school spokeswoman said Tuesday.

San Diego State University officials have reopened discussions with the mayor's office and members of the City Council over the future of the Qualcomm Stadium site in Mission Valley, a school spokeswoman said Tuesday.

The talks have been in person and over the phone with mayoral staff, but Mayor Kevin Faulconer has not been directly involved, Gina Jacobs of SDSU said. School officials also sent a letter to the mayor's office and council members.

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San Diego State University Vision Statement

San Diego State University Vision Statement

San Diego State University sent this letter to the mayor's office and council members.

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The mayor's office confirmed that conversations took place last week.

"We stand ready and willing to lead in this effort in partnership with the city of San Diego in order to best address SDSU's needs and the city's objectives," Jacobs told council members. "We recently have been in preliminary conversations with the mayor's office, and we look forward to working with him as we do all of you."

Her comments came as the City Council voted to refer the issue of future use of the stadium property to its Smart Growth and Land Use Committee, for discussion within the next four months. A plan to declare the site to be surplus property fizzled following advice from the City Attorney's Office.

The stadium property became available when the Chargers left for Los Angeles. City leaders hope to shutter the aging, money-losing facility after the 2018 college football season.

Talks between SDSU and the city come with a backdrop of the stalled SoccerCity proposal for the land. Developers led by FS Investors of La Jolla want to tear down the stadium and replace it with a hybrid facility for professional soccer and college football, along with parkland, housing, offices and shops.

FS Investors qualified an initiative in support of the project but a vote isn't likely until November of next year, after the City Council recently rejected a proposed special election for this fall.

RELATED: San Diego State Interim President Looks For Qualcomm Lease Extension

The council was considering a docket item that called for the stadium site to be declared surplus property which clears the way for the land to be sold. However, after an extended discussion with the city attorney, council members will move the issue to the land use committee.

The city council also asked the mayor to send them a report on his future plan for the site.

"This is intended to be an ongoing public discussion about what's going to happen and that's the intent here," said David Alvarez, District 8 City Council member.

Several council members expressed the desire to have an alternative plan ready if the Soccer City initiative fails at the ballot box in November 2018.

The surplus land designation could have made the initiative an uncertain issue.

"It would strip out from under the initiative the land, thereby fundamentally altering the premise of the initiative. What is very telling about it is that that initiative would even be tried. Very clearly, the people behind me, the 100,000 plus San Diego residents who signed the petition said we have a real use for that land," said Nick Stone of FS Investors.

Meanwhile, SDSU officials have eyed the land for years for campus expansion, and now need somewhere for the Aztecs football team to play in the future. The school and developers failed to reach agreement on how to share the property.

RELATED: SDSU Seeks To Buy, Lease Qualcomm Stadium Property

The five-page letter from SDSU Vice President for Business and Financial Affairs Tom McCarron, delivered earlier today, comments on various legal issues and reiterates SDSU's vision for campus expansion.

The document calls for many of the elements in the FS Investors' plan, such as parkland, housing, office space and retail development. It includes a 35,000-40,000-seat multi-use stadium, and office space that will be initially open to private interests but eventually taken over by the university.

Housing would be for graduate students, faculty and staff, and the general public.

"It's a rare opportunity for SDSU and one that will not come again," Jacobs said. "The Mission Valley site is the only proximate piece of land capable of solving SDSU's long-term expansion needs."

Jacobs said a more detailed plan will be unveiled in the coming months.

Faulconer's press secretary, Craig Gustafson, said Chief of Staff Aimee Faucett has been meeting with various stakeholders on several issues in her first days on the job.

"She met with SDSU officials last week and the future of the stadium site was one of the topics discussed," Gustafson said. "Finding a solution for SDSU's future needs remains an important part of any discussion related to the stadium site."

Faulconer has endorsed the FS Investors project and has held previous meetings with SDSU executives about campus expansion.

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