An Update on the Update of SDSU West

Posted: November 12, 2017 in Uncategorized
Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

Since early October, 2017 a month’s worth of information has accumulated, thus I must respond.

Certainly, San Diego State University’s decision to become a competitor of FS Investors (Soccer City) changes the San Diego community view and prompts the choosing of sides, which is not unfortunate, rather necessary.  Are you a supporter of a university educating 30,000+ students or do you pine for retail and office space?

Once SDSU decided to employ Populous to develop and present the site design, any hint of amateurism or lack of commitment on SDSU’s behalf disappeared.  Any CSU campus committing $100,000 for stadium/site renderings is rare air.  Populous also brings familiarity given their development of Petco Park, to say nothing of several other football and soccer stadiums worldwide.

Populous hinting at the inclusion of soccer stadium design elements is strictly fodder for San Diego soccer fans, who are uncomfortable with FS Investors soccer/retail vision, to support SDSU West in hope of one day attending an MLS game.  I doubt SDSU will chase any MLS opportunity given the dicey financial nature of most MLS franchises.  The funding challenges facing SDSU are significant.  Adding a tenant who may (implying may not) make the lease payments on time is risky and unnecessary.  Inviting the Chargers, Rams and another NFL team to play August exhibition games is a guaranteed full stadium and tidy rental fee with no long-term commitment or presence of a tenant.

After partnering with Populous, the university hired PCI Consultants to launch and secure a signature drive to place SDSU West either on a ballot (6/18 or 11/18) or in front of the San Diego City Council for approval.  What could have been an unorganized gaggle of SDSU alumni and students sprinkled throughout the city and county without any signature gathering experience is now a well-coordinated army of signature gatherers stationed in front of mega-shopping centers, grocery stores and malls as of October 21, 2017 through the next ten weeks (ending just prior to January 1, 2018).  Oh, yes, do include the Aztec home games during that time frame.  To say nothing of campus.  Tens of thousands of Aztec alumni and students is the ultimate captive audience.  The required 71,646 signatures for the ballot initiative will be easily eclipsed by 25,000 to 30,000 at the end of the year.  I find intriguing the City Council option of approving SDSU West without the necessity of a ballot measure (this possibility was implied in Roger Showley’s UT article dated 10/19/17).  Why have a messy election if we can receive a stamp of approval instead?

Speaking of the San Diego City Council, council member Chris Cate’s illegal delivery of city documents pertaining to Soccer City to FS Investors will develop into a festering wound that drains away some public support for Soccer City.  I do not propose that Mr. Cate’s entry into UPS/Fed Ex competition makes for a complete collapse of Soccer City, but his foolish action and unapologetic response will irk San Diego citizens who have no patience for politics as usual.  If Mr. Cate’s illegal activity blossoms into charges filed by the Attorney General of California, Soccer City will find itself unwittingly, but deservingly, attached to Mr. Cates legal woes.  Expect SDSU supporters to emphasize that connection without mercy.

The San Diego City Council and Mayor Faulconer must acknowledge that SDSU West provides something more than a retail opportunity (stressed by FS Investors) and the associated minimum wage/low paying jobs.  Does San Diego want or need another Fashion Valley?  SDSU West is an investment in not only SDSU’s ability to absorb a student population increase of 50% by 2030, but also employment opportunity for professors, researchers, university administration and support as well as the continued education of what becomes a legion of California taxpayers.  Nothing beats a solid base of taxpayers in maintaining not only a city or region, but also the financial vitality of a state.  Would San Diego citizens rather enjoy the benefit of university based jobs paying between $40,000 to $125,000+ annually or the thrill of minimum wage moans of young adults stuck in the vortex of low paying jobs?  Kevin Acee’s 11/3/17 UT article sums the choice nicely:  “My sole desire is to see whatever is done on the property be the best for San Diego’s economic and cultural advancement . . .”  Indeed.

As for the money to develop the area and football stadium, SDSU currently sits on $150 million, an amount of money that needs to increase.  The university recently completed a ten-year fund-raising effort that resulted in $815 million for all things Aztecs.  SDSU administration and alumni have substantial fund raising skills.  The school can issue construction bonds to cover some costs.  Stadium and field (always separate the two) naming rights will generate significant sums of money for the school to payoff said bonds.  In addition to generous current and, no doubt, future donors, SDSU can use funds from the Campanile Foundation to assist in developing SDSU West.  Too many San Diego citizens forget that SDSU continues to undergo impressive physical change on campus.  Money is found for priority campus projects.  Money will be found for SDSU West.

The next time you drive past SDCCU (I prefer the Murph), would you rather see a university or a retail outlet in its place?

 

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