It’s decision day on a new SDSU Aztecs stadium, as San Diego voters will be asked to approve a referendum measure that would sell off SDCCU Stadium to create a new campus anchored by a new stadium.
There are two referendums on the ballot: one would create a new mixed-use development anchored by an MLS soccer stadium, and the other would create SDSU West, a new Mission Valley campus anchored by a college-football stadium that could also be used for MLS soccer and expandable for NFL football.
As first unveiled in 2017, SoccerCity is a proposal from FS Investors to redevelop the SDCCU Stadium (formerly Qualcomm Stadium) site in Mission Valley and factors into San Diego’s MLS expansion bid. It calls for a stadium that would be constructed for an MLS club, along with surrounding development. FS Investors would enter into a 99-year lease with the city for 233 acres at the stadium site, plus 20 acres at the Chargers’ former training facility in Murphy Canyon.
In the period since it was unveiled, SoccerCity has had a few twists and turns. Backers sought to get it on the ballot as part of a special election last year, only for city officials to hold off on a referendum until 2018. Furthermore, a plan to work in partnership with San Diego State University–whose football program plays at SDCCU Stadium–did not come to fruition after the two sides failed to come to an agreement.
That led to the Friends of SDSU group presenting its own plan for the site, SDSU West. It calls for development that includes a new outpost for SDSU, with the stadium in its plan designed to accommodate SDSU football and professional soccer. In addition, the stadium would be capable of expanding from 35,000 seats to 55,000 seats in the event that it becomes home to an NFL franchise.
In a few respects, the proposals are very similar. Both target the same site for a new stadium/mixed-use development concept, propose constructing a new river park, and account for the NFL’s potential return to the city (SoccerCity sets aside 16 acres, for a period of five years, that could be used for a new football stadium).
It would seem that voters are being asked to decide between MLS and SDSU football, but that’s not the case. The SoccerCity developers say their plan could include San Diego State football as part of a 33,500-capacity stadium, and the SDSU West proponents say they’re willing to work with MLS on sharing a new stadium seating 35,000 for college football and 25,000 for pro soccer—and expandable should the NFL return to San Diego. There were talks between FS Investors and SDSU in the past, but those broke down before a final agreement was reached. If voters approve both, the proposal garnering the most votes will prevail.
The actual stadium design will feature 18 garden areas/neighborhoods throughout the facility, with a large concourse, an open design and concourse designed for socializing, lots of outdoor space and seating, and plenty of shade. Portable cabanas could be moved depending on the event. Flexibility is a central part of the plan: there will be room for food trucks along with permanent food halls.
Rendering courtesy San Diego State University.