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SDSU Boosters Launching Citizens’ Initiative

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Backers of San Diego State University are preparing to launch a citizens’ initiative that could lead to a plan for a new stadium, along with other features, being considered by voters. 

The Friends of SDSU Steering Committee, a coalition of university alumni, has announced plans to begin a citizens’ initiative that would lead to the redevelopment of the SDCCU Stadium site in Mission Valley. The plan, billed as the SDSU West Campus Research Center, Stadium and River Park Initiative, could be included on either the June 2018 primary or November 2018 general election ballot, and features multiple components.

Among its key features, the initiative calls for the construction of a joint-use stadium of at least 35,000 seats that would be home to SDSU football, along with a 34-acre river park, a mixed-use campus village, lodging and retail space, improvements to public transportation, and residential units. The stadium would have to be constructed within seven years of the initiative taking effect.

In addition, it would require an environmental review and the land would be acquired from the city at “fair market value.” More from NBC San Diego:

SDSU proposes to purchase the land from the City of San Diego at the now-ubiquitous “Fair Market Value” and the initiative would require a full Environmental Impact Report.

What is not made clear in the 14-page description of the initiative is how the project will be financed but it does say no money from the City or County general fund will be sought and it will not ask for any new or additional taxes on San Diego city residents. There are people working with SDSU on the proposal helping with ideas but in the end the school is going to have to make the final decision on how to buy all the land and get it fit for construction.

“It is up to them how they pay for it,” said Kim Kilkenny from the Friends of SDSU Steering Committee. “One of the components of the plan is not only a university campus but also we’re anticipating San Diego State would end up partnering with private sector individuals who do research park and technology and innovation labs and entrepreneurial programs and leverage that investment to assisting some of the improvements they want to do.”

If this proposal does indeed reach the ballot, it would not be the only plan for the SDCCU Stadium site to be considered by voters. SoccerCity, a plan for an MLS stadium and mixed-use development that was unveiled this year, was pushed to a 2018 vote despite its backers seeking to have it in on the ballot this fall. SDSU was at one point pitched on the idea of sharing the MLS stadium in that plan, but ceased negotiations earlier this year.

SoccerCity is slated for the November 2018 ballot so, if both proposals appear at the same time, the one with the most votes would more forward. Nick Stone, project manager for SoccerCity, as well as SDSU have weighed in on the latest proposal. More from The San Diego Union-Tribune:

“We put our best plan forward and we look forward to and expect a similarly thorough review by San Diegans of this proposal,” Stone said.

SDSU spokeswoman Gina Jacobs said the campus also was aware of the initiative and had reviewed several drafts to make sure it conforms to state policy.

The university is barred from taking positions on such issues but Jacobs said SDSU administration appreciates the “work and passion and resources” of the friends group.

She said the campus expects to issue a site plan by the end of the year that would lay out the extent of housing, academic buildings, commercial space, hotels and what non-university-related development would be allowed.

The Friends of SDSU Steering Committee is expected to publish its notice of intent on Saturday, and will have to collect at least 71,646 signatures from city voters. The signatures would have to be verified by March.

SDSU football’s agreement to use SDCCU Stadium runs through the 2018 season. While there had been some discussion about the City of San Diego tearing the stadium down after that agreement expires, reports indicate that SDSU is working to extend its stay as it continues the search for a new facility.

Image courtesy SDSU. 

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