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KPBS Midday Edition Segments

San Diego State Offers $68.2M To Buy SDCCU Stadium

 October 15, 2019 at 10:52 AM PDT

Speaker 1: 00:00 San Diego state university has formally presented its offer to the city of San Diego to purchase the 132 acre mission Valley stadium. Site voters approved an initiative last year in which the university proposed building an SDSU West extension along with business and residential structures and a new 35,000 seat football stadium. That proposal also includes building a river park and the cost of that park is proving to be a sticking point between the city and the university. Joining me is KPBS, Metro reporter Andrew [inaudible] and Andrew. Welcome. Thanks Maureen. How much is SDSU offering to pay for this prime San Diego real estate? 68 point $2 million and that reflects a, an appraisal that was done by a third party hired by both the university and the city, and SDSU says that when you factor in all of the community benefits that they're offering the new stadium, the river park, and some offsite improvements to the area that their total package is actually worth more than $150 million. They didn't have a line by line breakdown on, on all of those things. So it's a little hard to verify that figure. But, um, I think Adela Delatorre, the SDSU president kind of summed up the university's position like this. Speaker 2: 01:14 This offer represents not only fair market value, but a fair and equitable price to the tax paying public. We both represent and support. Speaker 1: 01:24 And this was somewhat of an unusual meeting because SDSU essentially presented this offer in the form of a letter to the city council right there in the meeting. It wasn't exactly, um, you know, fleshed out all beforehand, um, in public at least. So, um, you know, let's, we can also remember this, had these things had never been discussed before in an open session city council meeting. So the council was to, to a certain extent, kind of processing some of this information on the fly. Now SDSU apparently sees this as a final figure, whereas the city sees that figure as a place to start negotiations from the city's point of view. What else should be included in the offer? Well. So the appraisal does include two discounts that are proving to be controversial, um, a discount for the demolition of the existing stadium, formerly Qualcomm stadium and the construction of this new river park. Speaker 1: 02:11 Now the disagreement centers really on the language in measureG , which as you mentioned, was the measure that voters passed last year. Um, those costs, the stadium demolition and the river park construction are not allowed to fall on the city's general fund. Now the city says if the costs of those things are deducted from the sale price, then they're indirectly falling on the general fund and taxpayers are paying for them. There's also a question about the appreciation of the land value. It was, it was appraising the value of the land as if it were September 30th, 2017. The city council's independent budget analyst put out a report saying that, you know, let's assume the deal closes in September of next year. The value will have appreciated since that initial appraisal price by several million dollars. So, you know, if you take into account added costs, you know, if, if the, if they're getting the extra money for the demolition and the river construction and the added value year over year, the it could be worth actually more than 92 million or about $92 million. Speaker 1: 03:13 Now, what does the university counter when it to the argument that this is not in the spirit of measure J that the university should be paying more for this, uh, this prime real estate. As I say, they are saying that they are still going to pay for the demolition of the stadium and the construction of the river park. So let's say, you know, those costs go over the estimated, the current estimated a cost of $18 million. The university won't go to the city and say, Hey, we've got some cost overruns. Can you please, um, pay it and you know, make up the difference. Uh, they're also saying if you don't take into account those discounts in the appraisal of the land, that SDSU will essentially be paying for those things twice. So the disagreement really has to do with what is a fair and equitable price. Speaker 1: 04:01 What is the, uh, uh, you know, what is the appraised value of the land versus what should actually be paid. And ultimately that's kind of up to interpretation and it has to be negotiated by both of the parties. And there are about $18 million apart. That's right. Uh, the city is not satisfied though with other things, including the traffic mitigation offered an SDSU his plan. That's right. The university has put out its draft environmental impact report for all of this. Um, the city has, uh, several planning documents that have long planned for a bridge over the San Diego river at Fenton Parkway. So to orient our listeners, this is just West of the stadium property. It's right by that Ikea and the mission Valley library. The city wants a, a bridge that will cross and connect basically the North and South ends of the river there a to, to allow for more, you know, flow of traffic between the two areas. Speaker 1: 04:50 Uh, the university doesn't believe that this bridge is required. It's a required mitigation under the um, uh, California environmental quality act. Um, but it is offering to front the money to pay for it. They're saying just out of the goodness of their hearts and then they expect to be reimbursed at least partially by the city for that construction of the bridge. Now will this just agreement between the city and SDSU setback? SDSU is timeline to begin building because it's, it's nearing, isn't it? We're pretty close to it. SDSU had hoped to have a deal, worked out by the end of the summer and that clearly hasn't happened, but they say they're still confident that they can get this agreement signed and ready for approval from the CSU board of trustees by January. As I will say, the tone of this meeting yesterday was not super adversarial. I think it's, you know, everyone is really acknowledging both sides want the same end result. Speaker 1: 05:44 They want the university to expand. They want to honor the will of the voters, but there are just some things that they have to work out on that in the way, on the way to get there. What are some of the city council members have to say? Well certainly everyone was pleased that the negotiations will starting now have a bit more transparency to them. The city and the university have held more than a hundred meetings behind closed doors. Uh, and several council members also backed up the city's claim that, uh, the SDSU offer was too low. A Councilman Scott Sherman, whose district includes this property had this to say at the meeting, Speaker 3: 06:18 but I need to make sure that the city gets what they were promised in the voters, get what they were promised and what they gave their vote for is actually realized. And that's really the most important part of here at the end of the day. Speaker 1: 06:30 So what happens next? What's the next step in this process? The city attorney's office said they'll do an analysis of the universities offer. You know, I think we can expect that to include some analysis of the California environmental quality act and the traffic mitigation. Um, you know, things that are going to be happening there. Whether or not this offer is in line with measure G. I think we can also expect the negotiations to just keep on going because clearly the university and the city are not in total agreement about this, and ultimately the council will have to take up this item again as an action item so that they can actually vote on whether to approve the land sale. Any timeframe on that? No, frankly, no. All right. Then I've been speaking with KPBS Metro reporter, Andrew Bowen. Andrew. Thank you. My pleasure. Maureen [inaudible].

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SDSU and the city's negotiating team, composed of officials in various city departments and the City Attorney's Office, have haggled in recent months over the university's pledge to offer "fair market value" for the property and what that entails.
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