SAN DIEGO -- Backers of a proposed ballot initiative that would pave the way for San Diego State University to acquire the SDCCU Stadium property for campus expansion submitted more than 100,000 signed petitions to election officials Tuesday.
Friends of SDSU submitted 106,134 voter signatures to the San Diego County Registrar of Voters, which now will begin verifying the signatures. To appear on the ballot, the group needs 71,646 verified signatures.
"San Diegans have long called for an alternative that transforms the Mission Valley stadium site for the benefit of all residents. SDSU West officially answers that call today,'' City Councilwoman Barbara Bry said. "SDSU West is the only plan for the site that will protect taxpayers, guarantee a permanent and public river park and open space and affirm San Diego's identity as a hub for education and innovation.''
If enough signatures are verified, the City Council will decide whether to adopt the initiative or place it before voters. A competing initiative, which would result in a soccer-centric commercial development, recently qualified and will go onto a 2018 ballot.
If both SDSU West and SoccerCity are approved by voters, the one that receives the most votes would be adopted.
Nick Stone, project manager for SoccerCity, said on Tuesday he was confident that his proposal has more support than SDSU West.
"Signature gathering gauges the level of public enthusiasm. Given that it took the developers behind SDSU West nearly six times as long as SoccerCity to gather signatures, it's clear that public support is with SoccerCity, in part because our plan will not require any taxpayer money,'' Stone said.
The SDSU West initiative would lead to the sale of the property to SDSU, which would be required to create a comprehensive development plan.
The university has built to capacity in its current footprint, which means the proposal would allow SDSU to grow its academic, research and housing facilities to meet increased student demand that cannot be met at its current campus.
School officials in the fall outlined their vision for the project, including 1.6 million square feet of classroom and research buildings, a river park and open space, 4,500 housing units, retail shops, a pair of hotels and a multi-use, 35,000-seat stadium for college football and other sports.
SDSU Interim President Sally Roush and JMI Realty CEO John Kratzer said the project would be mostly funded by public-private partnerships, and wouldn't rely on taxpayer financing. The main exception would be the stadium, which would be funded by bonds to be paid back by future revenues.
The land is three trolley stops from the built-out main campus.