For the past several months, the San Diego State Alumni With a Vision have been trying to get the SDSU leadership to consider reusing the existing SDCCU stadium as an alternative to a new stadium. The time delay, demo difficulties and cost make new stadium construction a less realistic and unnecessary approach on the SDSU West site.
But, all the talk about the stadium misses the more important question that trumps all other SDSU West discussions. Do SDSU and the City of San Diego understand the magnitude of the opportunity that the Mission Valley site presents?
The opportunity is for a world-class university campus on the entire site.
SDSU has limited alternatives for expansion other than Mission Valley. It’s close and already connected to campus by the light rail system. Now, a place to grow is available.
SDSU is making a run at it. However, The SDSU West plan suggests a commercial project with some campus elements and a boutique stadium. Envision a world class university campus and research center, set within a large park system. It can become the intellectual, cultural and athletic center of California’s second largest city. Significant economic impact to the community can happen when private enterprise and public investment get involved.
UCSD and Stanford University are examples of what a vibrant campus and research complex can contribute to its community.
Current students should care because most will have at least 40 years of affiliation with the university after they graduate. The value of that relationship will either grow or diminish as SDSU either grows or diminishes.
All the top tier California universities in the state have had room to grow — or were obligated to buy space. The expansion of USC came at a high price, but it elevated the facilities, stature and academic relevance of the campus.
The Mission Valley site provides such an opportunity. But bold thinking is required, and so far the thinking isn’t bold enough.
SDSU West should not be a mixed use, mostly commercial development with short-term profit requirements that take priority over campus expansion elements. It’s also not about sports venues.
We call upon the student body to communicate with the administration that a campus on all of the Mission Valley site be the stated objective for SDSU West.
We call upon the alumni to communicate the same.
We call upon the City of San Diego to recognize the magnitude of the SDSU West opportunity. This is not just about accommodating a growing university.
It’s about the creation of a campus that has economic, social, cultural and recreational ramifications for generations to come.
Sports teams and companies come and go but top tier educational institutions are rooted into communities.
The city can help make this vision a reality. A good start would be to grant ownership of the site and stadium to SDSU. This represents a small piece of the overall investments that will be made over the years to plan and develop such a campus.
This is an easier sell than either the SDSU West or Soccer City ballot initiatives because the objectives are clearer and the overall plan is more beneficial to the community.
An easy choice, but you have to want it. You have to insist on it. You need to be heard. Who is more important to an educational institution than its students now and in the future? You have the power, but only if you use it.
Make SDSU one of the great universities of this country by championing the concept of SDSU West — a world class university campus.
Dave Smith is an alumnus of SDSU class of 1969.