Posts Tagged ‘San Diego Union Tribune’

Soccer City seems to be slowly disintegrating.  Public support for Soccer City has shrunk considerably since May.  In the meantime, the NASL has placed a professional soccer franchise in San Diego ready to play in 2018.  Does San Diego need two professional soccer teams?  No.  Will San Diego support two professional soccer teams?  No.  No is the exact point made by Kevin Acee’s criticism of San Diego (politicians, business people, voters, citizens, elderly, disabled, students, surfers and pet owners) from his 6/19/17 UT article, yet Mr. Acee found his uncomfortable truth in the word, “No”.  Mr. Acee needs to stop grappling with political reality as well as wishing on a star that MSL will “wait to add more teams” in the hope that Soccer City will win enough votes November, 2018.  No.

Mr. Acee’s comparing the Chargers hemming and hawing for years to the city council’s denial of a special election equates with comparing the Civil War to pushing and shoving.  His claim that “we’re a joke” is nonsense.  The citizens of San Diego know a tilted political favor when they see one.  FS Investors was all too cozy with the mayor’s office as evidenced by a 3,000 page document (Soccer City) that not a soul in the mayor’s office read from the first page to the last page.  Elected officials and staff need to make the time to understand what they agree to place on expensive special election ballots.  Not having time to read a War and Peace sized document does not meet the challenge of effective public stewardship.  Special elections are not doled out as praise for a job not done.

Mr. Acee writes, “But, dang, this city just won’t get out of its own way when it comes to accomplishing anything.”  Perhaps Mr. Acee could lead the charge on behalf of SDSU in building and/or renovating the Q as well as the creation of SDSU West in Mission Valley so that the largest CSU campus in the state can accommodate 50,000 students by 2030?  Perhaps?

Again, when he invokes the Chargers in comparison to Soccer City woes with “The Chargers could have gotten something done here”, Mr. Acee inadvertently points to the problem that is Soccer City:  Much like Dean Spanos, who wanted everything for nothing, so to does Soccer City see an old-fashioned land grab at minimal expense to themselves as a legitimate method of developing the last piece of sizable land in San Diego without the challenge of competing ideas.  Soccer City reeks of overbuilding, uncertain promises and Charger game day traffic seven days a week forever.

Mr. Acee disingenuously wrings his hands with the concern “. . . how long it will be before we get an alternative plan up and running at last.  At least.”  Please.  San Diego State University is engaged in presenting its vision with or without partners.  Also, other San Diego based development groups want to participate in the request for proposal process to compete against FS Investors (who seemingly seek to avoid competition).  Plenty of options from interested parties will be ready for public vetting by summer’s end.

Finally, as this piece began with the word “no”, I end with “yes’ on behalf of San Diego and SDSU West.

 

 

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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.