Developer sees SDSU expanding to Qualcomm Stadium site

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SAN DIEGO — A proposed expansion of San Diego State University onto the current Qualcomm Stadium site was revealed by developers Tuesday.

The officials with JMI Realty, Cisterra Development and others outlined a plan  that includes research facilities that could be used by SDSU, UC San Diego and private entities; student and faculty housing for the two schools; a stadium for football and professional soccer; and 67 acres of open space along the San Diego River.

Their plans were conceptual in nature, with few details provided on costs or financing.

“SDSU West” would be located just a few miles from the main campus on Montezuma Mesa, and about a half-hour by trolley from UCSD, once the Blue Line extension is completed.

The plan “could alter the trajectory of (the school’s) history for the next several decades,” SDSU President Elliot Hirshman said Tuesday.

Hirshman issued his first public comments on expansion at the same time that representatives of a developer held a town hall meeting about their vision for the 166-acre property in Mission Valley.


“The excitement and challenge of realizing such a vision will, of course, be in the details,” Hirshman said in a post on the SDSU President blog.

“One especially exciting aspect, mentioned earlier, is that the Metropolitan Transit System’s trolley provides a rapid, easily accessible connection between our campus and the Qualcomm site,” Hirshman said. “This existing transportation infrastructure is critical to realizing a sustainable, green vision for the redeveloped site and for our entire university.”

He said as more students and professors ride the trolley, traffic would be reduced in Mission Valley and the College Area.

The Mission Valley property has been eyed for years as a location for future university expansion, but such thoughts are closer to becoming reality now that the Chargers have decided to try to get a new stadium built downtown.

Hirshman remained mum while executives of San Diego’s National Football League franchise pursued a move to Los Angeles County and ultimately turned their sights downtown.

The San Diego State football team has shared the Mission Valley stadium with the Chargers since the late 1960s, but the general consensus has been that the Aztecs don’t want to follow their NFL counterparts farther away from campus.

The proposed new stadium would be located at the northeast corner of the property and would have a smaller seating capacity than Qualcomm Stadium, in an effort to capture a fan experience closer to what the Aztecs basketball team offers at Viejas Arena.

Hirshman noted that expansion into Mission Valley was a long-term project.

The Chargers’ proposed move to downtown hinges on voter approval of a hotel room tax increase the would fund construction of an associated convention center annex, and cover land acquisition and moving costs. Team Chairman Dean Spanos also has an agreement to relocate his franchise to a future stadium in Inglewood, near the Los Angeles International Airport, if his San Diego plan doesn’t work out.

Councilman Scott Sherman, who represents Mission Valley, called the expansion plans “an interesting idea” but said they put the “cart before the horse,” since the Chargers’ fate remains undecided.

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