San Diego Business Journal

San Diego State University has presented city officials with a mixed-use vision for the current Qualcomm Stadium site, including a new multi-use stadium for Aztec football and other potential sports partners, seating 35,000 to 40,000.

The university’s vision, discussed informally with mayoral staff and addressed at the July 25 San Diego City Council meeting, also calls for a river park; affordable and market-rate apartments for students, staff and the public; office and retail space, and a hotel on the Mission Valley site.

This comes as the university seeks to take a leadership role in the master-planning of the Qualcomm Stadium site.

Some of the elements of the SDSU vision are also part of the proposed SoccerCity development, backed by an investment group led by La Jolla-based FS Investors. In May, SDSU disengaged from talks with SoccerCity developers, after the two sides were unable to reach terms on the university’s participation in the project.

SoccerCity is now expected to go before voters in 2018, following an initiative campaign by its backers. SDSU has not formally backed any developer’s proposal for the Qualcomm Stadium site, and has instead called for the city to open up a competitive proposal process to consider concepts. The university’s current plan would likely be part of that process in some form.

In a phone interview, SDSU spokeswoman Gina Jacobs said the recent approach to the city was part of efforts by the university to establish contact with new personnel in the mayor’s office, including Chief of Staff Aimee Faucett.

Details of the university plan were submitted in a letter emailed July 24 to Mayor Kevin Faulconer and city council members. It was sent by SDSU Vice President and CFO Thomas McCarron, ahead of the July 25 council meeting.

The university has asked the city to clarify issues related to future use of the Mission Valley site, including whether the council can make findings “that some or all of the land is required for public purposes such as higher education.”

“We observe that the Council could authorize the sale of all or some of the Property to SDSU without impinging on the voters’ reserved initiative power – even if such a sale is not solely a back-up plan,” the letter states. “We respectfully observe the initiative has only qualified for the ballot; it is not enacted, is not the law, and even if passed, it could be invalidated.”

“We continue to encourage an open and transparent process that many will benefit from,” McCarron said in the letter.

SDSU said the stadium in its proposal could be expandable to accommodate growth of the university’s football program and for a potential future NFL partner. Officials said SDSU is developing a more detailed plan which it expects to share in coming months.

The university is seeking to expand its sports program and other administrative and educational facilities, as it runs out of space at its main campus off Interstate 8. SDSU has intermittently been in talks with the city since 2011, and is now seeking to take a leading role in master-planning the Qualcomm Stadium property.

“The Mission Valley site is the only proximate piece of land capable of solving SDSU’s long-term expansion needs,” SDSU’s Jacobs told city council at its July 25 meeting.

She said the university is advocating for “transparency and open dialogue,” in a decision-making process that also includes the public and the Mission Valley Planning Group.