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June 07, 2017

What to do, with the Q? - Qualcomm Stadium

With the Chargers move to Los Angles the 166 acres of city property occupied by Qualcomm Stadium needs to be re-purposed.  To be clear this property is owned by the city of San Diego as public property.  Any redevelopment needs to be done with the permission of the citizens of San Diego (and SANDAG), or the property sold to a development group.

The first developer to the table is FS Investors (FSI) of La Jolla, with their SoccerCity proposal. The San Diego Mayor likes this idea and is pushing for a special election with a simple majority approval for it to move forward.  Although I like the idea of a Major League Soccer (MLS) team to replace the Chargers, I question why the city is having a special election and not accepting any other alternative plans from other groups … if having a Nov 2017 special vote is not approved, the vote will be with the Nov 2018 General Election.  If there is not a special election FSI will withdraw from the project.

Per FSI Major League Soccer (MLS) wants to add 4 teams in 2018; but per the city of San Diego it is simply the costs and the ability to include other time critical measures in the vote.

San Diego is one of 12 candidate cities that MLS is considering as an expansion site.  California has 3 MLS teams now - LA has 2 teams (LA Football Club and LA Galaxy), another as the San Jose Earthquakes, one across the border Liga MX Club Tijuana and Sacramento is also a candidate city.

So what is Soccer City?  The MLS mega-star, from SoCal, Landon Donovan is giving his full support to a MLS team in San Diego by 2020.  Under the FSI plans a 30,000+ seat soccer stadium would anchor the property.  They also plan 4,800 homes (condos), a 26 story hotel (480 rooms), also 3 million sq-ft of retail, while maintain 60 acres of parkland along the San Diego River.

Looking at FSI portfolio they have not done a shopping center nor a sports complex before.  They have done condos.  I’m afraid they may be in this to do a ‘flip’. They may well provide all they promise or nothing at all.  Although I like their concept, I don’t really see the guarantee, and based on their published portfolio I have to wonder if they are in it for the long run.

As of today SDSU has asked for a 40,000+ seat dual-purpose stadium to accommodate their Aztec Football and the bowl game(s) and to consider future expansion.  FSI will negotiate if SDSU pays for the alterations (~100 million) - SDSU can afford that, but they are also talking to the Padres to play at PetCo Park as an alternative, when their lease at the Q expires in 2020.

FSI has scheduled an Open House in Mission Valley that I was able to attend. Unfortunately it was only a display of the proposed offering , but only the architects were present.  I was disappointed it was not a Q&A with FSI, just simply a display to garner support.  The entire 8 displays are below.
IMG_3745 (1280x960)IMG_3746 (1280x959)
IMG_3748 (1280x960)IMG_3749 (1280x960)
IMG_3750 (1280x960)IMG_3752 (1280x960)
IMG_3754 (1280x960)IMG_3756 (1280x958)
IMG_3761 (1280x943)IMG_3763 (1280x957)

I’m not against Soccer City, in fact I really like the idea, just not in favor of how it is presented now.

San Diego has already lost the Poinsettia Bowl, but still needs a home for the Holiday BowlSan Diego State University (SDSU) can sell 40,000+ tickets at a home football game.  This needs to be addressed.  The property in question is public property, a fair market value needs to be determined if this is to be sold to any developer.

Another concern I have relates to shopping and parking.  The valley already has 5 malls (Mission Valley, Fashion Valley and Fenton Market place are doing well.  Hazard Center and Rio Vista not so well) all with free parking.  The architects show that parking will be in a garage - but no idea of costs.

For a several million dollars the city could retain ownership of the property and renovate the Q adding a ‘SDSU West Campus’, housing, retail and improve the parkland along the San Diego River. All this while maintaining ownership of the property for the future of San Diego.

However, the city does not have a ‘Master Plan’ for this area, and FSI came in well prepared.

Yesterday the city council voted 8-1 to not support the FSI proposal.  However, San Diego has a ‘Strong Mayor’ form of government, giving the mayor almost total administrative power.  Mayor Faulconer has used his veto power to override the decision of the city council.  The council will need to vote again, this time they will need 2/3 vote (6-3) to override the mayor.

The fate of the Q is still unknown.  But perhaps FSI will be able to address some concerns and come back with answers in time for the next vote.  Or maybe we can see some alternative ideas when the council overrides the veto.
I believe the statements above to be accurate as of my typing, but this is a moving target.  The next council vote is June 19, and there will certainly be changes and compromises by then.  But we'll be on the road by then and miss the fun.

Any desires you'd like met?  I'll be happy to submit them.

A week late but RoadTrip 2017 is about to become a reality!  I'll blog that next ...

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