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RFP Process is Best Approach for Stadium Site

Jeff Phair

The Qualcomm Stadium site is a unique opportunity to develop a world-class education and business innovation center. The focal point of this new development should be San Diego State University. The City of San Diego (and taxpayers) should not provide any type of subsidy to professional sports team owners, such as with the SoccerCity proposal.

In the early 1980s, when I was one of the original developers of the master-planned community of Eastlake, I met Bill Otterson, the founder of CONNECT, at a San Diego Regional EDC function. His enthusiasm was infectious. I became one of the first members of CONNECT.

CONNECT’s goal was to network innovators and capital resources to incubate growth of the high-tech and life science industries in San Diego. University of California, San Diego was at the core of these efforts. Now, 30 years later, the high-tech and life science industries surrounding UC San Diego are economic engines for San Diego’s regional economy. An expanded SDSU can do the same.

Request for Proposal

The SDSU campus has physical constraints which limit the university’s growth. The development of the Qualcomm site should accommodate SDSU’s need to grow. We can’t get caught up in the hype of professional sports. Sports teams come and go (San Diego Chargers, Conquistadors, etc.).

Many of the initial MLS teams failed. We need to look 20 to 30 years down the road. An expanded SDSU on the Qualcomm site can be a successful incubator of new-innovation companies, just as UCSD did 30 years ago. An expanded SDSU can be a startup accelerator and an economic driver that benefits all San Diegans, not just those who can afford $100 for a pro-football or soccer ticket.

The development of one of the last large parcels of developable land in all of San Diego will have an impact on San Diegans for several generations. It is, therefore, prudent to look at all development options through an open and transparent Request For Proposal process.

That has not happened.

SDSU–centric Proposals

I don’t know Michael Stone. Based upon his impressive credentials and experience nationwide, he appears to be a man of integrity. But he should not be given an exclusive right to develop the city’s Qualcomm property, just because enough people signed a petition to qualify a referendum.

Due to my 40 years in San Diego’s real estate industry, I know Doug Manchester, Dennis Cruzan, and Steve Peace. They are business and community leaders who have had a lifelong commitment to investing in San Diego’s future.

I strongly urge the San Diego City Council and all San Diegans to open the development of the Qualcomm site to a Request For Proposal process, with an emphasis on a development plan which incorporates the needs of SDSU.

An expanded SDSU in Mission Valley can be a catalyst for startup innovation and economic growth that can benefit all San Diegans for generations to come.

Jeff Phair is president of The Phair Co., a real estate investment and development company based in Chula Vista.

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