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Reports Raise Concerns with SDSU’s Latest SDCCU Stadium Site Offer

New SDSU Stadium rendering August 2019

Two separate city reports are casting skepticism over San Diego State University‘s latest offer to purchase the SDCCU Stadium site, pointing to several concerns.

SDSU is negotiating with the city to purchase 135 acres of the SDCCU Stadium site, intending to redevelop the property with a new football stadium, along with a surrounding outpost for the university and a 34-acre river park. After an initial offer pitched in October drew skepticism from some city officials, SDSU presented revised terms late last month, including a purchase price of roughly $87.7 million for the land, almost $20 million higher than its previous offer. Additionally, it calls for SDSU to assume the cost of constructing the river park at a cost of at least $30 million, while committing to annual maintenance (estimated at nearly $600,000). Furthermore, the university offered to take on the upfront costs of constructing a new $22-million bridge, with a 75 perfect reimbursement coming from the city.

The offer was reviewed by San Diego’s City Attorney’s Office and the Office of the Independent Budget Analyst (IBA), which released separate reports Wednesday that outlined various concerns. In both reports, there were doubts raised about the feasibility of SDSU’s timeline in the process, which calls for closing escrow no later than March 27. Additionally, the city’s attorney office pointed to concerns with how the bridge project would be managed, as SDSU’s offer calls for the city to design the bridge and conduct the environmental review. More from the San Diego-Union Tribune:

“Numerous significant issues must be resolved before the parties can finalize a (purchase and sale agreement) on mutually agreeable terms,” City Attorney Mara Elliott wrote in her report, which was delivered to City Council members and the mayor’s negotiating team. Elliott also noted that’s SDSU’s target close date is “highly optimistic and may not be feasible.”

In her report, Andrea Tevlin, who is the city’s independent budget analyst, advised council members to push back on a number items, including the escrow timeline and SDSU’s offer to cover the land appreciation costs only associated with the portion of the property owned by the city’s water utility fund.

“Our office thinks that the council may wish to seek clarity or provide input on several deal terms which are too vague for formal consideration,” Tevlin wrote….

For example, the city attorney believes council members should weigh whether the city would be better served if the university, and not the city, was the lead agency on the project. Currently, the SDSU deal requires the city to design and permit the bridge, and conduct the environmental review. But state environmental law dictates that the environmental review must be completed before an agreement on the bridge can be finalized.

The city has not made any decisions on the offer, and the city council will discuss it in a public forum on Monday. In a statement, SDSU emphasized that it believes it has presented a fair offer and that, while it is reviewing the reports, it is not discouraged by the comments. From the Union-Tribune:

“We have presented an offer that is fair and equitable and consistent with Measure G and are encouraged by the amount of cooperation and work that has gone into it by both city staff and the team at SDSU,” the university said in a statement. “We are reviewing the IBA’s and city attorney’s memos on our revised offer. This is part of the process and we are not discouraged by any of the comments shared, as several of the points raised have already been discussed and negotiated with city staff as part of the near year-long negotiations.”

Current plans call for the new stadium to host SDSU football and be designed to accommodate professional soccer. University officials have previously expressed hopes of having it completed by the 2022 college football season. Currently home to SDSU football and formerly used by the NFL’s Chargers and MLB’s Padres, SDCCU Stadium was first completed in 1967.

Renderings via SDSU athletics.

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