A group calling itself the Alumni Board Past Presidents Council, has announced a formal opposition position to the SoccerCity ballot initiative that proposes sweeping redevelopment of Qualcomm Stadium and the surrounding parking lot in Mission Valley.
“On behalf the Past President Council who represent more than 300,000 SDSU alumni, we are formally announcing our opposition to the FS Investors plan for the Qualcomm Stadium site,” said Frederick W. Pierce, spokesperson for the Past Presidents. “The University made clear last week that the current terms and conditions of the FS Investors’ initiative do not and cannot meet SDSU’s needs.”
The group released a statement pointing at the unique opportunity that the vacancy of Mission Valley presents when it comes to securing the future of San Diego State University’s existence.
“Given its size, proximity and light rail connection to SDSU, utilizing a portion of the Qualcomm Stadium Site to accommodate the future growth of the University and its football program is of critical importance to SDSU and the San Diego Region,” the statement reads. “This is a once in a century opportunity to secure the future growth of SDSU.”
This public declaration of opposition to SoccerCity comes after months of meetings between FS Investors, the group spearheading the project, and San Diego State appears to have failed to find any common ground between the two parties. At one point the two groups were working hand-in-hand to develop a strategy to build a joint-use stadium that would house both a Major League Soccer team owned by FS Investors and SDSU’s football program.
The organization of formal opposition is nothing new for ballot measures and initiatives. A report from San Diego Union Tribune columnist Jeff McDonald describes several meetings between San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer, FS Investors and SDSU representatives between January of 2016 and February of 2017. Of the 25 meetings between FS Investors and the Mayor’s office, SDSU was represented at eight. Clearly, at some point that discussion broke down when one or both parties dug their heels in over something or other.
“For us, the bottom line is that SDSU plays the most important role in the San Diego region in producing an educated workforce to support the local economy with nearly 10,000 graduates each year,” explained Pierce. “SDSU’s landlocked main campus of 238 acres alone cannot adequately accommodate the future physical growth of the university. Far too many applicants are denied access to SDSU each year; approximately 8,000 of 80,000 applicants were enrolled in 2016. We need the ability to expand, and that opportunity will be lost forever with the FS initiative. ”
For SDSU, there appears to be no turning back. While FS Investors have extended an open invitation to resume talks, the university and its various supporters, both alumni based and otherwise appear to dead-set on ensuring that the SoccerCity proposal fails in one way or another. The mandate they have laid down to their supporters is simple.
“We’re asking everyone to take the following immediate actions:
(1) Contact the Mayor and San Diego City Council members to communicate your opposition to any plans to redevelop the Qualcomm Stadium Site that are inconsistent with SDSU’s needs
(2) Urge the Mayor and San Diego City Council to pursue a transparent Request for Proposals (RFP) process to elicit the best plan for SDSU and the community
(3) Personally vote “No” on the initiative and any other potential future ballot initiative which does not incorporate the articulated needs of SDSU.”
Time will tell whether or not citizens of San Diego have the opportunity to cast a ballot on the SoccerCity Proposal. San Diego’s City Council meets on June 19th to determine whether to initiate the special election the Mayor and FS Investors have called for in order to establish San Diego as an MLS expansion city in 2017, or to defer to already scheduled elections in 2018.