We end 2018 with a countdown of the 10 biggest stories of the year on Football Stadium Digest, as chosen by editors and partially based on page views. Today, #1: The new SDSU stadium initiative moves forward.
The future of San Diego’s SDCCU Stadium became a bit clearer in 2018. Voters chose a proposal for a new San Diego State University football stadium and surrounding development over a competing bid, clearing the way for the university to negotiate for the city-owned site.
The aging SDCCU Stadium (formerly Qualcomm Stadium) has been a clear candidate for demolition in recent years, particularly since the NFL’s Chargers moved to Los Angeles after the 2016 season. What had not been clear, however, is what would become of the site. SoccerCity, first unveiled by FS Investors in 2017, called for a new stadium for an MLS expansion squad, along with surrounding development. A partnership with SDSU, which would have led to the football program sharing the stadium with the MLS squad, was at one point sought, but the two sides could not agree to terms.
SDSU eventually factored into the site’s future through a pitch from the Friends of SDSU group, dubbed SDSU West. The proposal called for the site to be redeveloped into a new outpost for SDSU, including a new stadium designed to accommodate SDSU football and professional soccer. Furthermore, the stadium would have the ability to expand from 35,000 seats to 55,000 seats in the event that it becomes home to an NFL franchise.
The two proposals appeared on the November ballot as competing initiatives. City voters ultimately approved the SDSU West proposal, while soundly rejecting the SoccerCity concept.
Voter approval is a key part of the process for SDSU, but there is still work to be done before stadium construction can move forward. The university and the city must enter into negotiations for the site, and an environmental review process will get underway. The ballot initiative called for SDSU to acquire 132 acres from the city at fair market value, but the two sides will have to complete negotiations for any agreement to move forward. Should the plan make enough progress in 2019, SDSU could begin construction in 2020 and open the new stadium in 2022.
In the meantime, a lease extension for SDSU football approved in August allows the program to use SDCCU Stadium for the 2019 and 2020 seasons. If all goes according to plan, SDCCU Stadium will be demolished in the coming years and a new SDSU stadium and surrounding amenities will rise in its place. SDSU football would then have the modern home it has been seeking for years, but discussions will have to continue in order to ensure that the plan moves forward.
Here’s the rest of our Top Ten of 2018: