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SDSU disputes former city manager interference with SoccerCity deal

SAN DIEGO – San Diego State University officials Sunday disputed claims made by SoccerCity investors that a former city official has a conflict of interest in the redevelopment of the Qualcomm Stadium site in Mission Valley.

The San Diego Union-Tribune reported Sunday on the claims of FS Investors, the group behind the SoccerCity plan. They claimed former San Diego City Manager Jack McGrory had a conflict advising the university on a possible role in the stadium deal.

SoccerCity’s investors claimed McGrory was supposedly connected to a different group of investors interested in getting an NFL team back in San Diego. That group includes Doug Manchester, a politically-connected hotel developer and former owner of the Union-Tribune.

“As it relates to the NFL letter, Jack was not accurately represented in the letter and has no involvement in the Manchester proposal, as confirmed by Doug Manchester himself to the U-T this week,” SDSU spokeswoman Gina Jacobs said in a statement released to City News Service.

Jacobs also released a statement from McGrory.

“I never saw Manchester’s letter to the NFL or authorized him to use it,” McGrory said. “I didn’t sign it and I have no involvement in the NFL effort.”

Jacobs referred to a “false narrative” by FS Investors about why SDSU ended negotiations over the proposed project.

“This is a complete fabrication of the events that led to SDSU ending discussions with FS,” Jacobs said. “The university worked for two years in hopes of reaching a compromise with FS Investors first to secure a shared stadium and then, once we learned they intended to develop the entire site, in hopes of having a SDSU expansion be part of their proposed development.

When the initiative was published in February, we had all but reached the conclusion that there was not a fair and equitable deal to be reached. This is due in part to being unable to get a formal letter of intent from FS that reflected our verbal agreements and also because we were never able to review the final initiative language despite multiple requests,” the statement continued.

“The initiative is the only legally binding document that matters. It would trump any letter of intent per the city attorney’s analysis and the initiative’s own language that specifically says there can be no third party beneficiary to the lease agreement with the city.

As a final effort and at the direct request of Mayor Kevin Faulconer’s office, we asked Jack McGrory and Kit Sickles, two valued members of The Campanile Foundation, to provide some outsider perspective on whether we had reached the appropriate conclusion or if there may still be a deal to be had,” the statement said.

“After multiple meetings with representatives of the Mayor’s office, Jack and Kit came back to us in May having reached the same conclusion (there was no fair and equitable deal to be reached).

At that point, the leadership team briefed our incoming president and we formally ended negotiations,” the statement said.