A Letter To San Diego From Mike Stone and Steve Altman
Fellow San Diegans - as we enter the final days of the SoccerCity/Measure E campaign, we want to thank you for your consideration of our proposal to bring Major League Soccer to San Diego and revitalize the Mission Valley stadium site. We know there has been a lot of information — and arguments — to wade through. We hope you’ll indulge this final statement from the two guys who started it all.
This journey has been a bit of a rough ride at times. We always anticipated we’d need to work hard to earn the confidence of San Diegans that SoccerCity is the right plan at the right time. What we didn’t anticipate is that this would come to be a bitter political battle that would try to pit us against SDSU, an institution we both have supported philanthropically for many years.
In reality, SDSU’s needs and our plan are not in conflict at all. From the outset, we have tried to accommodate the university’s every wish, including a shared stadium for Aztec Football and room to expand their campus as needed over the next several decades. We made commitments both in the initiative and in a binding letter to the mayor that establishes what will be in the lease. The voters expect us to deliver on these commitments if Measure E passes, and we will do so.
More importantly, we actually want to deliver these benefits. One thing all San Diegans can agree on is that SDSU is a tremendous asset to our city. The only question is who bears the risk to meet its needs. We think it makes sense for our group of philanthropically minded, well-capitalized investors to absorb the risk and help bear of the cost — $150 million in stadium construction costs alone — and free up the university to focus on its mission of educating the next generation of San Diego leaders.
At the start of this journey, more than a few folks told us we were fools to wade into the political morass that surrounds stadiums in San Diego. But we saw it differently. We saw a chance to solve problems and leave a legacy. The Chargers were abandoning San Diego, leaving the city with just one major league sports team. The stadium site was a blighted, underused sea of asphalt with a money pit of a stadium. SDSU Football needed a home— and we all wanted to see them play in a better place than the crumbling, oversized “Q.” Our effort to bring a Major League Soccer team to San Diego would change all this.
We knew a project so closely aligned with the needs and desires of San Diegans could be a success. We thought that by taking the opposite approach from the Chargers — specifically, by privately funding 100 percent of the project, including the stadium and riverpark and always being transparent about who we are and what our plan is – we would be successful.
Not suprised! SDSU West is so scared about 11/6 that they’re stealing images of some of Mexico’s best coaches and players who endorse @soccercitySD. They should be afraid. SD is a SoccerCity. Vote No on G and the usual politics of deceit. Yes on E! #myfirsttweet pic.twitter.com/5EuplRmYdH— Nicholas Stone (@nicholasstone15) November 3, 2018
What we encountered is the immense force of an established developer cabal that feels entitled to control what happens in Mission Valley.
After months of campaigning, it has become clear that that garnered 70% of its funding from three highly conflicted developers, used the SDSU name to brand an office and condo development, put students at risk for hundreds of millions in stadium costs, plans to sidestep property taxes that fund K-12 schools to the tune of hundreds of millions of dollars, readily conceded their plan involves raiding park funds, repeatedly run advertising that the UT has deemed FALSE, and run deceitful ads with images of SoccerCity endorsers pretending they instead support SDSU West – essentially the worst of modern politics all rolled into one campaign.
But we’ve also had the unique and incredibly affirming experience of proposing something that excited and engaged regular San Diegans in a way we’ve never witnessed. From the day of our announcement on the USS Midway, to the record-breaking collection of 112,000 signatures in just two weeks, to the thousands who’ve joined us for events, donated countless hours volunteering and cheering us on, we have been reassured that we’re on the right track. San Diegans want Major League Soccer. They want a beautiful, enormous river park. They want a place to go to be entertained and enjoy with their families and their community.And they don’t want taxpayers or students to pay for it. Only Measure E will deliver all this.
We’ll find out Tuesday whether our supporters can overcome the entrenched powers and political noise to help us deliver on this collective vision for all San Diegans.
When we say that Measure E is for everyone, we mean it. Sports fans, taxpayers, students, environmentalists and SDSU will all win under our proposal. We’re proud of the plan we have put forward and the path we have taken to make it a reality.
With your support on Tuesday, we hope to be cheering alongside you all once again in a couple years as we watch a new soccer team take to the pitch, right in the heart of San Diego.
Mike Stone and Steve Altman