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San Diego State University Has New Plans For Qualcomm Stadium Site

The Qualcomm Stadium sits empty Thursday Jan. 12, 2017.
Associated Press
The Qualcomm Stadium sits empty Thursday Jan. 12, 2017.
San Diego State University Has New Plans For Qualcomm Stadium Site
San Diego State University Has New Plans For Qualcomm Stadium Site GUEST: Erik Anderson, environment reporter, KPBS news

San Diego State University is back in the mix when it comes to the future of the QUALCOMM Stadium site. They revealed that it it is reopening discussions with the mayor office on the future of the 166 acre property. They have long viewed some of that property as a prime location for the expansion. This San Diego city Council to have the Stadium site to be declared certain -- surplus property was sidelined to a committee. They told the council there are too many complications involved were such a designation to pass legal muster. Joining me is Eric Anderson who is following the story. Welcome.My pleasure.What do we know about the reentry into discussions on the Stadium site ?We have a hint yesterday during the city Council meeting when Jacob stood up and supported what the council members were considering, which is a movement to change the designation to surplus property. She also said that the University had been in contact with the mayor office. They had just switched recently, the Chief of Staff and the University had recently switched to a new leader with Sally Rauch on an interim basis. So, I think those changes appear to have been the impetus for pre-contacting the University that and the city and talking with the mayor office about the potential future for the QUALCOMM Stadium site.Do they have a proposal? Do we know what they are proposing ?They do not have a proposal in the sense that they have a detailed plan for what is going to happen to that site, much like the investor group does for the soccer city plan. They do have general per diem -- parameters. They mentioned it with the mission statement and they would like to create an annex campus and build the Riverpark and build the stadium that will provide a home the Aztec football team. They want affordable and marketable rehousing for students and faculty in that area and they want classroom space and research space and possibly retail space to complement that. There is a chance for a hotel. Some people pointed out that it is similar in some terms with what FS investors is proposing that the University would differ on a couple of points. I was in contact with them this morning. There are things that are different and we want a football stadium that is larger than what FS investors is suggesting. They are keeping in mind that the driving force is the educational mission. They say they would go through the SQL process, which is the environmental quality act and that can be a long drawn out process but they would take those steps if their idea is flushed out and Ms. Ford.How would they finance the proposal ?They did not say. Perhaps, those are details that will come in the future. We really do not know at this point where they plan to raise the money to do the development they are suggesting.The plan was announced over whether the Council should declare theDeclare QUALCOMM -- QUALCOMM's Stadium surplus property. What could that mean for QUALCOMM Stadium and the plan for soccer city by SF investors ?The idea as offered by the Democrats, they wrote to the mayor who is also a Democrat to consider this idea that the QUALCOMM property site would be surplus and it would open up and sell it to another entity, San Diego State. They shared a member suggesting that they could get first dibs if the counsel designated this land as a public priority for education. State surplus loss is somebody who comes forward with a plan for affordable housing would theoretically have first dibs on the property. There are legal questions. What it means is that the city, if they got the designation, would be able to do something with the property site in advance of the November 2018 election, which is the soccer city initiative which will be on the ballot.I would imagine FS investors is not too keen on it opening it up but they were not pleased.I talked to Nick Stone on Monday about that possibility. You know, he was straightforward about what he thought was going on.It's about the initiative and the land and they are altering the initiative. What is telling about it is that that effort would be tried, very clearly, people behind me, the people that signed the petition, they have a used for the land.The city attorney office told the Council much of the same thing, that the designation of surplus property would interfere with the ballot initiative that has been assigned to go before voters in 2018. The Council decided to have a broader discussion about the future of QUALCOMM Stadium. They directed the mayor to discuss future users. Doesn't he support the soccer plan ?He does. He will be asked to come up with a report that they will discuss in the next four months. The thing to take away from this move to committee is that for the first time, the city Council will have that discussion about what will happen with the future of QUALCOMM Stadium. The other thing about this particular issue that I noticed, having watched the Council for more than 20 years, this last six months has really for the first time in San Diego since I have been here, they have shown the city Council that is a partisan counsel. The five Democrats on the Council which include Myrtle acting as a block against the interest of the mayor and the Republicans on the Council. That is something that has not happened before in San Diego. It has come about since the first of the year and that is interesting expect I have been speaking with Erik Anderson. Thank you. My pleasure.

San Diego State University Has New Plans For Qualcomm Stadium Site
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.

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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.

San Diego State University Vision Statement
San Diego State University sent this letter to the mayor's office and council members.
To view PDF files, download Acrobat Reader.

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.

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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.