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SDSU sued over stadium project records

SAN DIEGO — A local news organization is suing San Diego State University, claiming that the school has refused to disclose records involving its plans to redevelop Qualcomm Stadium, with particular focus on whether the project will necessitate raising student tuition and/or fees.

According to the suit filed Friday in San Diego County Superior Court, Voice of San Diego has unsuccessfully sought records for four months regarding plans to convert the stadium into SDSU West, a 35,000-seat stadium site also featuring a river park, classrooms, hotels, retail stores, and 90 acres of open space.

Promoters have publicly maintained that the project — which was approved last November by about 54 percent of voters — would not require raising student tuition or fees. Voice of San Diego claims stadium backers have repeatedly refused to release any documents detailing the “expense, time, and resources required to secure and develop the Mission Valley stadium site.”

SDSU responded to the suit with a statement Tuesday, saying in part:

“The university has in recent months provided a full and complete response to the Voice of San Diego, including a significant number of documents related to its retained expert consultants, as required by the California Public Records Act. SDSU must balance its commitment to transparency with legal restrictions as it pertains to proprietary documents.

The university also continues to release information and updates via its SDSU Mission Valley site: http://missionvalley.sdsu.edu

In response to a series of public records requests the news outlet made beginning last September, the university hired a law firm that argued against releasing the information publicly, citing attorney-client privilege.

The suit states that what little information the plaintiff was able to extract via the California Public Records Act was redacted in many places and “withheld the substance of the requests.”

Voice alleges that while SDSU West supporters “presented the scope of the project to over 115 groups” during the public outreach process, they offered “little information about what lies under the hood.”

Supporters maintain the stadium project will also not result in any new taxes on San Diego city residents, and that it will add to the estimated $5.67 billion annual economic impact that the school has on the region.

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