SDSU-backed group plans signature drive for stadium site land - CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8

SDSU-backed group plans signature drive for stadium site land

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SAN DIEGO (CNS) - A new group designed to help San Diego State University acquire property for expansion at the SDCCU Stadium site in Mission Valley is scheduled to publish an intent to circulate initiative petitions in the city.

The signature drive would then start Oct. 20, said Fred Pierce, spokesman for Friends of SDSU Steering Committee.

If enough signatures are gathered, the proposal would go on a ballot next year in direct competition with one by a La Jolla-based group of investors who want to build a soccer stadium, offices, housing, retail space and park land.

"This would provide for the sale of 132 acres to San Diego State, and it would put the parameters -- the land use and the planning parameters -- largely on the land uses that could go on within a master-planned, education-driven mixed-use development so that the range of what would happen there would be known as it pertained to the land sale," Pierce told City News Service.

He said actual construction projects at the site, such as buildings for education and a football stadium for the Aztecs football program, would go through a standard public approval process, and follow state environmental review procedures.

SDSU officials have eyed the stadium site for years for expansion but after the Chargers announced their move to Los Angeles, the investment group rolled out a development plan called "SoccerCity" and qualified an initiative for a 2018 ballot. Their original plan called for a hybrid soccer-football stadium to accommodate the Aztecs, but the two sides failed to reach an agreement.

In a statement, SoccerCity backers said they welcomed competing ideas.

"We put our best plan forward, and we look forward to and expect a similarly thorough review by San Diegans of this proposal," the statement said.

Pierce said the proposed stadium would be designed to accommodate a soccer team, should a Major League Soccer franchise be awarded to the city, and would be expandable in case the National Football League decided to return a franchise to San Diego.

Like SoccerCity, the initiative on behalf of SDSU would include parkland -- 34 acres in this case. SDSU would purchase the land at fair market value, and pay for the projects on the site.

Prominent community and school leaders formed the 24-member group because the school is barred by law from engaging in ballot measures. The school, however, would take up future land developing and financing if a proposed initiative is eventually approved.

The school has "a very, very wide array of financing tools and mechanisms available to them," Pierce said of SDSU officials. Examples include alumni donations, public-private partnerships and bonding mechanisms will provide sufficient financing, he said.

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