Posts Tagged ‘John David Wicker’

The San Diego Union Tribune has published seven articles on the relationship between FS Investors and SDSU during the month of March (or as of this writing 3/26/17).  Much has been reported and debated in the articles written by Kevin Acee, Mark Zeigler, Roger Showley and Tom Krasovic.  Less, Acee’s 3/24 piece, the reporting has been fair and balanced.

As an Aztec alumnus (oh, alliteration!), I begin and end my decision making with “What works best for SDSU?” as applies to all things Soccer City.  Soccer City and FS Investors is plan B for the university.  I want to discuss plan A.

Plan A is the idea proposed by the university via athletic director, John David Wicker, and Campanile Foundation chair, Jack McGrory, that centers on SDSU buying or leasing approximately 47 acres of the Qualcomm site to build SDSU West and a football stadium.

The seven point plan presented by the university is admittedly thin on particulars, especially financial considerations, but at the very least the general idea of what SDSU wants to do with the acreage is easy to understand.  12 of the 47 acres (that’s 25% of the total land purchase/lease) is devoted to the long treasured Aztec football stadium.  The other 75% of the land is dedicated to SDSU West.  I find fair to assume that SDSU will develop the 35 acres along the model of current College Avenue campus expansion meaning the inclusion of retail space accompanying lab and classroom construction.

Mr. McGrory stated that SDSU’s student population will grow from the current figure of 35,000 to 50,000 within three decades.  That is an eye-popping increase of 43%.  An additional 15,000 students (to say nothing of the bevy of university employees to teach the newcomers) will not fit along the border of Montezuma Avenue, College Avenue and the multitude of two lane streets to the west, east and south of the school.  Physical expansion of the campus is required if residents of San Diego do not wish to see Friday night death fights between local homeowners and students.  Said physical expansion cannot happen within the current confines of the university.  Building in ravines is unwise.  Thus, the solution found in 47 acres of mostly ugly, cracked parking lot.

Mayor Faulconer and the city council will enjoy the benefit of pointing to present and future job creation by approving this land purchase as SDSU continues to educate and graduate thousands of students who will earn above average salaries and pay above average taxes that will fund the city and county of San Diego now and in the future.  This is the purest form of non-polluting job creation imaginable.  Mayor Faulconer is an Aztec alumnus.  Pushing hard for his school is expected.  He is believed to hold desire for higher political office.  About 300,000 of his fellow alums live in the city and county of San Diego.  I believe most vote.  That’s a sizable base for future campaign efforts.

Mr. Wicker and Mr. McGrory state that the university can finance $150 million towards the football stadium.  The quote from the 3/22 article from Mr. Wicker, “We’re comfortable that we can go out and build that stadium and finance it.” indicates confidence that public assistance is not to be considered.  Rightfully so.

To State’s advantage, the city has agreed to a lease extension of the Q through 2018.  Ron Fowler and the Padres have offered Petco Park as insurance for the 2019 and 2020 seasons if necessary.  Mr. Fowler stated “We’re not going to let division one football disappear.”  A firm declaration supported by his kind offer of Petco Park.

The usual headache of infrastructure development is a non-issue given east and west entrance to the Q from Friars Road and from the north via Mission Village Drive as well as the trolley stop to the south of the stadium.  No other piece of property in the city or county comes with ready and functional infrastructure, thus the cost savings is dramatic.

Finally, Mr. McGrory is a former San Diego city manager.  Mr. McGrory’s political acumen will guide the university through the political ritual of approval for SDSU West.  He knows when to turn right or left, avoid a dead-end and hammer home the message of campus expansion.

Regarding plan B featuring SDSU as a partner more so than a public sympathy character, works to a limited degree on behalf of the school.  MLS does not approve of stadiums in excess of 30,000 seats.  Granted, SDSU football crowds are generally in the vicinity of 25,000, but what would be lost is the annual crowd of 45,000 seated for the KGB fireworks show in September.  Perhaps some would protest by pointing to the initial seating capacity of 35,000 of the SDSU football-only stadium, but that’s 5,000 more tickets than will be seen at the MLS facility.  Additionally, with Mr. Wicker securing contracts with PAC-12 schools for non-conference games, crowds of 40,000 (last year’s Cal game at the Q) would be non-existent.  The lost revenue for the school would be substantial.

FS Investors is a business.  They want profit as they well should.  I do not anticipate the question of “Does this work for SDSU?” to be at the forefront of decisions, alterations and reconsideration as Soccer City moves forward.  This reality creates a disadvantage for the university.  Disadvantage should not be near SDSU West.  FS Investors can easily work with SDSU as both developments move forward.  This is the best form of partnership for SDSU.

 

 

 

Advertisements

The inevitable finally arrives.  Dean Spanos leaves San Diego and takes the Chargers with him.  This was as likely as a slow commute on the 5.

Mr. Spanos is worth approximately $2.5 billion.  That is a lot of millions to get to those billions.  Yet, Mr. Spanos refused to gather his bankers, use his lines of credit and reach into his deep, cavernous wallet to self-finance the stadium of his choice.  Rather, Mr. Spanos insisted that San Diego’s hotels and motels finance his downtown dream stadium via a tax increase to be demanded of visitors flocking to America’s finest city.  Of course, the San Diego voting public said, “Nay”.  After all, Arizona folk need an affordable place to stay during the summer.

Mr. Spanos’ best bet was to remain in Mission Valley, knock down the Q and build a shiny new stadium a few feet away.  Alas, this practical resolution was not his dream.  Now the moving vans and trucks are full of football gear, Spanos’ household goods and the disappointment of Chargers’ fans.  The last item is quite heavy.

56 years and adios.  Love ya, miss ya, bye.

Mr. Spanos chose to pay a $550 million relocation fee, host NFL football in a 30,000 seat soccer stadium for a minimum of two years, pray that Chargers fans motor north for three hours to watch bad football and three hours south to complain about bad football, become a tenant-renter-occupant of the Rams for who knows how many years and in the end fail as a L.A. franchise, thus forced into some forsaken section of Orange County.

Now for the good news.

San Diego State University football is no longer attached to the coattails of the San Diego Chargers.  Aztec football journeys alone and is relieved to do so.

SDSU has long embraced the proposal of reshaping Mission Valley.  166 acres of cracked asphalt can at last be transformed into SDSU West, livable space and sizable green belt.  As for the Q, renovate or build a smaller version.  Either option works.

Regarding the expansion of SDSU as a university, I dismiss the morons who have yet to discover or acknowledge that the university engages in biological research, embraces engineering and interdisciplinary sciences and has risen in national academic stature dating back to the days of Dr. Stephen Weber as president of the university and carried forth by Dr. Elliot Hirshman.  SDSU entering Mission Valley offers substantial opportunity to the city, county and regional economy.

Yet, let me not drift from Aztec football.  Whether we partner with the rumored Major League Soccer franchise (paraphrasing the MLS commissioner Dan Garber, “San Diego is more attractive to us” given the Chargers exit) or enjoy the support (money) of the city and county of San Diego accompanied by the influence of CSU and the state legislature leading to an exclusive SDSU football stadium, one is the other.

As for athletic director John David Wicker’s concern regarding seating capacity of 30,000 in the instance of MLS partnership in a new or renovated stadium, let me remind him that portable seating sections have been in use at the Q for decades, so employ that, um, technology to boost Aztec seating to 35,000.  Revolutionary.

The Chargers bolting (sorry, could not resist) provides a rare opportunity for Aztec football.  The long-held complaint of we-need-a-campus-based-football-stadium is soon to be addressed and solved.  The reality of an Aztec football stadium also opens doors long closed to, at the very least, actual consideration of joining another conference.  No, I’m not stating that any such invitation is in the near future.  But, the business of conference realignment is nowhere near complete.  The photo of division one football in 2016 will not resemble the near future reality of division one football as ESPN, FOX, CBS and NBC broadcasting contracts begin to expire.  SDSU football will be best served with a stadium home to Aztec football.

Here’s to the immediate future.