Potential hurdles are surfacing in discussions over a new San Diego State University stadium, including the timing of an environmental impact report and how the demolition of SDCCU Stadium will affect a proposed land sale.
Under a plan dubbed SDSU West, the city-owned SDCCU Stadiumsite in Mission Valley would be redeveloped to include a new stadium, along with an outpost for the university. The stadium would provide a new home for SDSU Aztecs football, be designed to accommodate professional soccer, and have the ability to expand from 35,000 seats to 55,000 seats in the event that the NFL returns to San Diego.
The initiative was considered by San Diego voters in November’s election, alongside SoccerCity–a competing proposal for the same site that included a new MLS stadium and surrounding development. Voters soundly rejected SoccerCity while giving majority approval to SDSU West, effectively allowing the city and university to negotiate a potential sale of the property.
For SDSU, the goal is hammer out some terms over the coming months and close its purchase of 132 acres in January 2020, with the stadium opening in 2022. The university and the city are continuing discussions, but a few questions are being raised about issues that will have to be ironed out in the process. For starters, the city attorney’s office issued an option that the city council cannot consider any final agreement until the full environmental impact statement is certified early next year. Furthermore, it also suggested that the city’s negotiators should use the certified report in discussing terms with SDSU, which could slow down negotiations.
Additionally, some councilmembers are raising concerns that the cost of demolishing SDCCU Stadium will be discounted from a final sale price. More from the San Diego Union-Tribune:
Council members Scott Sherman and Mark Kersey put up another red flag. Both called staff’s attention to the existing stadium, which the city owns and operates at a loss. Both intimated they would object to any deal that discounts the property value based on the cost to tear down SDCCU Stadium.
“By my way of thinking, whether we’re reducing the purchase price upfront or whether we’re writing an actual check for a demolition company later, it’s effectively the same thing,” Kersey said. “The measure that the (Friends of SDSU) wrote, I think, is pretty clear that the city responsibility will not be for the demolition and removal cost. My expectation, certainly, is that, while we’re evaluating whatever purchase agreement is brought forward, that will be the case.” Kersey, in making his point, quoted directly from the measure.
However, [the city’s director of real estate assets Cybele] Thompson said earlier in the discussion that the city may consider demolition costs as a factor in the price. [SDSU executive Tom] McCarron also indicated, in response to a question from Councilwoman Barbara Bry, that the university was anticipating a deduction in line with what was suggested in a previous land appraisal. That appraisal, completed in 2017 for a rival proposition, included a $11.5 million credit for stadium demolition costs.
Although those issues have the potential to slow down or complicate discussions, the planning process is certainly not at a standstill: both sides have appointed negotiation representatives, and SDSU has already awarded the stadium construction contract to Clark Construction Group.
SDCCU Stadium originally opened in 1967 and is the former home of the NFL’s Chargers and MLB’s Padres. It has primarily been used for SDSU football since the Chargers relocated to Los Angeles after the 2016 season, though the Alliance of American Football’s San Diego Fleet did use the facility this spring before the league suspended football operations.
Rendering courtesy Populous and San Diego State University.
RELATED STORIES: New SDSU Stadium Construction Contract Awarded; Existing Facilities Could Inspire New SDSU Stadium; Potential SDSU Stadium Tenants Courted; SDSU Mission Valley Plan Environmental Review to Launch; SDSU West Construction Could Begin in 2020; It’s Decision Day on New SDSU Aztecs Stadium; Vote on New SDSU Football Stadium Set for November; SDSU West Initiative Tops Competing SoccerCity in New Poll; Vote on New SDSU Football Stadium Set for November
This article first appeared in the weekly Football Stadium Digest newsletter. Are you a subscriber? It’s free, and you’ll see features like this before they appear on the Web. Go here to subscribe to the Football Stadium Digest newsletter.