San Diego State University held a press conference at SDCCU earlier today to unveil its plan to create a massive campus expansion into Mission Valley. The $3 billion campus expansion will produce 1.6 million square feet of new classrooms and research facilities; a river park and open space, 4500 housing units, retail center, two hotels, and a brand-spanking new 35,000 seat stadium for college football, college soccer, Major League Soccer, and concerts.
Taking a closer look at the stadium: it is now projected to cost $250 million dollars- roughly $100 million more than the Aztecs originally set out to spend. San Diego State Athletic Director John David Wicker has employed JMI Sports as the consulting agency for the project, and Populous as the designer for the stadium. Wicker has engaged the best of the best in the industry, and the price tag reflects it.
The 35,000-seat Aztec Stadium is slated to be part of the first phase of development and would take two years to build, with a 2022 estimated completion date. It is planned to be funded by bonds that would be paid off with future revenues from the facility. Until it is complete, the Aztecs would likely play football games at Petco Park.
Today’s new renderings showed a two-level stadium topped by a canopy, with a sunken field. 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 to be open for public use when there are no events, Athletic Director 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.”
Fanatical Aztecs fans, known as “The Show,” put things into perspective at Viejas Arena for San Diego State a around 15 years ago. They electrified the Aztecs basketball team so much that they created a national sensation involving a new era of basketball fandom, and they were so impactful to the rising Aztecs basketball program, former coach Steve Fisher dubbed The Show as the Aztecs’ “sixth man.”
After many decades of Aztecs football games in the cavernous 85,000 seat Qualcomm behemoth, the dream of a custom tailored stadium for the Aztecs comes with the vision of an oft-sold-out collegiate atmosphere with a strong home field advantage. The dream of replacing the impossible-to-fill Qualcomm is what Aztecs want.
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, in the November general election.
The measure will have to compete with the SoccerCity initiative, which achieved the right number of signatures earlier this year. Embattled Project Manager Nick Stone had this to say: “we wholeheartedly support SDSU and its athletic program, and have worked hard on a partnership to provide for SDSU’s stadium needs.”
He then offered a back-handed addendum: “it’s truly unfortunate that SDSU officials have decided to use public money to fully fund a $250 million stadium, when the cost could be split 50-50 with us, using private funding,” Stone said. “This is a waste of taxpayer money, and if the SDSU West initiative were to prevail, San Diego will not be granted a Major League Soccer expansion team.”
San Diego State University’s proposal takes into account some of the features first found in the Soccer City proposal. The key difference lies in the primary function of the repurposed land. Soccer City predominantly presents a retail and commercial development, whereas San Diego State presents a 120-year-old university’s commitment to expanding research and other academics, student residency, and collegiate athletics.
Let’s face it. It’s time to build a proper stadium for the ranked Aztec football program that has found itself in eight straight bowl games, and who currently completed its third straight ten-win season. Last year the Aztecs produced the NCAA’s all-time rushing leader. This year, the Aztecs followed up with a running back who has already exceeded 2000 rushing yards. Rocky Long and company have turned the Aztecs into an institution.
San Diego State is now one step closer to realizing its vision.