SDSU Mission Valley ground breaking ceremony ushers in ‘A New Era’ for San Diego State

by Kyle Betz, Sports Editor

After almost two years of negotiations with the city of San Diego, San Diego State broke ground on the Mission Valley site in an official ceremony Monday.

The 132-acre project was commemorated at the future Mission Valley Campus and the current site of SDCCU Stadium. Among the featured speakers were SDSU President Adela de la Torre and San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer.

“Today marks a milestone moment for San Diego State University and the city of San Diego,” de la Torre said. “It will become the signature project that defines the future — not only for SDSU but for higher education in California.”

SDSU President Adela de la Torre (center) was joined by San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer (left) and other local officials for the ceremonial “first shovels.” (Brenden Tuccinardi)

Claps and cheers were replaced by car honks from the handful of socially-distanced donors watching the ceremony from their cars. Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the event was live-streamed to the public.

“In times like this, I can’t think of a better cause for San Diego to rally around,” Faulconer said. “The jobs, the housing, the community and the hope that our city needs right now are all embodied in this endeavor. This is truly San Diego coming together.”

Dianne L. Bashor, a local philanthropist who donated $15 million to the university last December, was the only donor to speak at the event. 

“This city has been so tremendously good to us, and I felt it was time to give back to this city,” Bashor said. “This stadium, and all the venues that will be around it, will be here forever.”

Bashor’s donation will go towards the development of a 35,000 capacity multi-use stadium with the field named in Bashor’s honor.

Athletic director JD Wicker said the stadium will be a multi-purpose asset for the city of San Diego, not just SDSU.

“We’re going to build a stadium that’s great for the community,” Wicker said. “It’s going to open the opportunity for so many different events outside of Aztec athletics, outside of Aztec football and that really excites me.”

“The hype is real,” Athletic Director JD Wicker said during the Monday morning ceremony. (Brenden Tuccinardi)

Aztec Stadium is expected to be ready for the 2022 football season alongside a San Diego River Park and early phases of the Mission Valley Innovation District. 

A new stadium and campus expansion have been a long time coming for the university — almost two years, in fact.

San Diegans approved Measure G in November 2018, when the Mission Valley stadium site was approved to be sold by the city to SDSU.

Last November, the city unanimously agreed to draft a purchase sale agreement document.

On Jan. 29, the California State University Board of Trustees approved SDSU’s development plan and environmental analysis. The university was granted $350 million in revenue bonds for the development of the site. 

Exactly four months later, the San Diego City Council unanimously approved the sale of the Mission Valley property to SDSU for $88.2 million (only after the university increased its initial offer and ironed out the details in marathon talks with city officials). Escrow closed Aug. 13 and SDSU took ownership of the site.

In addition to Aztec Stadium, SDSU Mission Valley will house 4,600 housing units, additional educational and research facilities, a hotel and a river park once completed.

The development is projected to add $3 billion in local economic value.

“San Diegans should take great satisfaction in knowing that the future of this land is finally set as a place where education, athletics and the community will thrive side by side for generations to come,” Faulconer said.

The more than $80 million real estate deal and subsequent development are juxtaposed by SDSU announcing the university faces a $67 million budget crisis precipitated by the pandemic and growing uncertainty about the degree to which COVID-19 will impact future CSU and California state budgets. 

Brenden Tuccinardi contributed reporting.

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