SDSU releases new details on proposed stadium development

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SAN DIEGO -- One day after San Diego State University detailed its plan to expand into Mission Valley, the Aztecs athletic department Thursday unveiled a proposed design for the $250 million stadium portion of the project.

The $3 billion campus expansion onto San Diego County Credit Union Stadium property encompasses 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, according to SDSU.

The 35,000-seat Aztec Stadium is included in the first phase of development and would take two years to build, JMI Realty CEO John Kratzer said. It would be funded by bonds that would be paid off with future revenues from the facility.

Renderings and a computer-animated video showed a two-level stadium topped by a canopy. The building would be closed at the lower level of one end and open at the other. A wide ground-level concourse would include 18 "garden room" areas of different styles that would be open for public use when there are no events, athletic director John David Wicker said.

He said the facility would be more that just a home for Aztec football.

"It's a stadium that will create the opportunity to host professional soccer, whether that be international friendlies, national team matches or a San Diego-based professional team, as well as the Aztec men's and women's soccer programs," Wicker said.

"A stadium that will have the ability to host concerts, other professional sporting events, NCAA championships, tractor pulls -- you name it, we'll host it," he said. "Our goal is to build a stadium that will host events that reach every San Diegan."

Premium amenities will be spread throughout the venue, he said.

One of the garden room areas will be dedicated to students who attend games, with food and beverages geared more toward their tastes and priced to meet their budget, according to Wicker.

"Our goal is to create a great experience for our students, and we realize that just providing some seats does not meet that need," he said. "We'll work with our student leaders on campus to build out an area that they can truly call their own."

A group of students who dubbed themselves "The Show" fueled the sometimes raucous atmosphere for men's basketball games at Viejas Arena, beginning around 15 years ago, prompting Aztecs fans to dream of replacing cavernous Qualcomm Stadium with a more intimate facility for football where a similar environment could be created.

The Mission Valley site became available when the Chargers announced their move to Los Angeles. City officials hope to close the money-losing SDCCU Stadium at the end of the 2018 college football season, but SDSU has been discussing a lease extension to buy time for construction of a replacement.

Petco Park could also be made available for the Aztecs in the interim, but the Padres have balked at offering more than one season. Some modifications to the ballpark would have to be made to accommodate football contests.

Arrangements would most likely be necessary because SDSU still has to gain rights to the property. A group called Friends of SDSU said Tuesday that it is on track to gain enough signatures to qualify an initiative for the ballot, likely in the November general election.

However, the measure would likely have to compete with the SoccerCity initiative, which successfully went through the signature collection process earlier this year.

The development could also be slowed because Kratzer said it will go through a full environmental review process.

Gordon Carrier of the design firm Carrier Johnson + Culture said the proposed stadium would be on the northwest corner of the property. It would be expandable, if necessary, and could host soccer or other sports, he said.

The facility would be bordered by a park for tailgating, two hotels and retail establishments, according to Carrier.

Scott Radecic, founder with the stadium design firm Populous, said the stadium was designed to reflect the San Diego lifestyle and fit in with the rest of the expanded campus area.

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