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SDSU Pushes Forward With Plans For Mission Valley Stadium Site

The unveiling of the SDSU Aztecs athletic department design for the $250 mill...

Photo by Laura McVicker

Above: The unveiling of the SDSU Aztecs athletic department design for the $250 million stadium portion of the Mission Valley project, Thursday, November 30, 2017.

San Diego State University has begun taking steps to complete a wide-reaching Environmental Impact Review of its plan to build a Mission Valley campus where a stadium and parking lot now sit.

“We are really excited about this opportunity,” said SDSU Director of Planning Laura Shinn.

Shinn welcomed a few dozen people to one of several public meetings this month. The school is getting input on the early work of SDSU’s plans for Mission Valley.

The project is an extensive makeover.

The school hopes to negotiate a deal to buy about 132 acres of the property from the city of San Diego.

Once the sale goes through, SDSU would tear down the existing stadium and build a new one with enough room to seat 35,000 fans.

There would be classroom space, offices, retail shops, two hotels and 4,600 housing units. And the university promised to build a 34-acre park along the San Diego River.

The project was made possible when voters approved Measure G last November and rejected a competing plan that called for a soccer-focused redevelopment vision.

RELATED: Measure G Leads In Returns, Which Would Pave Way For SDSU Expansion In Mission Valley Site

The school has already been studying the site trying to gauge how the area will be affected and officials say the public has an important role.

Photo credit: San Diego State University

A rendering of the SDSU West plan to redevelop SDCCU Stadium is shown in this undated image.

“We want to make sure that as we’re studying all of the impacts we’re not missing anything,” Shinn said. “Traffic for example. We have traffic engineers in the next room and they’ll talk to people in detail about what they’ve observed, and they studied and how they think this project is going to impact it. But the community really knows in a very real way what the traffic problems are today and what they’re concerned about.”

San Diego resident Phil Pryd had questions and observations for the consultants.

“Look at the entrances. People coming here are going to try to go that way, people are coming here trying to go that way, and they’re coming down here. Where are they all going to park?” Pryd asked.

He envisions a busy campus with lots of comings and goings, both by car and the trolley.

“I think you’re going to need some special (transit) pass, so students can go back and forth a lot of times,“ Pryd said.

An early analysis of traffic flows already hints there will need to be upgrades around the Interstate 15 interchange at Friars Road. And the main entrance to the stadium site from Serra Mesa needs an overhaul.

“We’re expecting to see some need for improvement along Mission Village, specifically that bridge. The project is looking to widen the bridge to help people get in and out,” said Cicely Taylor, a traffic engineer.

RELATED: Passage Of Measure G Would Allow San Diego State To Expand Into Mission Valley

The EIR will try to measure everything from changes to air quality, how water moves through the property when it rains, where people will be and what recreation and public services will be included.

And some residents want to make sure planners remember the animals that live nearby.

“This is kind of the only tributary canyon that there really could be a wildlife connection. Which is really frustrating because had we thought about it we should have left a wildlife connection with all of them. Currently, with the stadium not being used much at night, wildlife can move across the parking lot pretty much at will,” said Jim Peugh, of the Audubon Society’s San Diego chapter.

SDSU officials will have to account for all of those issues and more in the promised EIR. They hope the process moves along quickly.

SDSU Planner Laura Shinn expects a draft environmental document to be ready for public review by summer, with a final report in front of the California State University Board of Trustees by next January.

That would allow the school to deliver a new sports stadium in time for the 2022 Aztec football season.

“It is an aspirational schedule but we’ve all committed to it and we have a lot of really high-quality people working on it so I have confidence that we’ll make it,” Shinn said.

The environmental review is part of the process required under the California Environmental Quality Act, but it does not include negotiating the deal to sell the city-owned land to SDSU.

School officials did meet with city officials shortly after the ballot initiative passed in November, but formal negotiations setting the terms of the sale have not yet begun.

San Diego State University is taking important steps in the process to reshape the Mission Valley stadium site and turn it into an auxiliary campus.

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