Posts Tagged ‘Kevin Acee’

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.