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Mission Bay Aquatic Center lease renewed

by Staff

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San Diego State will get to use the Mission Bay Aquatic Center for another 15 years. The decision by the San Diego City Council may cause students who participate in water sports to sit up and take notice.

Even though the university will now pay rent on the facility, the decision is still hailed as a victory by Dan Cornthwaite, the executive director of Associated Students.

“Although it took a lot of time and effort to get the job done, we were successful in getting it done,” Cornthwaite said. “We are pleased that it’s done and we now have a new 15-year lease with an option of a 10-year extension.”

Although the student costs will remain the same, alumni, student family members and everyone else will have to pay a 10 percent cost hike. The Mission Bay Aquatic Center is a joint venture between A.S. and the University of San Diego and is operated by both universities, said Glen Brandenburg, the director of the center.

“It’s on city land so we have to have a lease with the city,” Brandenburg said. “The original lease with the city was in 1975. It was a 25-year lease, (and it) went to the year 2000. We started in 1996 negotiating with the city to renew the lease with the goal of renewing it by the year 2000.”

Problems abounded for San Diego, however, stalling the process. The past decade saw a multitude of financial and corruption scandals that kept pushing back a decision on the lease, Brandenburg said, who called the lease “at the bottom of the list” of the city’s priorities.

“As soon as we were up on the list then another crisis would happen and then we were back down at the bottom,” he said. “That went on for 12 years and then the whole thing stabilized for a little while this spring. So we were able to get their attention. We were able to get it finalized.”

Until now, A.S. had to renew the lease on a year-to-year basis. Now it will be able to secure the center for possibly 25 years. A.S. is a large student organization, commanding a $20 million budget that operates other facilities, such as the SDSU Children’s Center, the Open Air Theatre and Cox Arena.

The Mission Bay Aquatic Center is one of San Diego’s most impressive gems.

It draws thousands of students and water sport participants every year, boasting an impressive roster of water sports and programs along with a facility and world-class instructional training. It also offers water safety courses, as well as CPR and First Aid certification courses. The center hosts a variety of other programs for the disabled as well as youth camps.

The Mission Bay Aquatic Center has an estimated 15,000 users overall and many fans, Instructional Manager Kevin Straw said.

Take, for example, psychology senior Lacey Wilson who begins her day at the center by racing through waves on a wakeboard.

“It’s a good way to wake up in the morning – going wakeboarding at 8 a.m.,” Wilson said. “It’s the best way to start.”

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