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New NFL Renderings, Midway District Redevelopment and MTS' Real Opportunity: San Diego Summarized | 4-30-18

New NFL Renderings, Midway District Redevelopment and MTS' Real Opportunity: San Diego Summarized | 4-30-18

Welcome to San Diego Summarized where each week we examine headlines from around the city:

This week we open up with San Diego State University's bombshell new NFL stadium renderings released on Day 1 of the 2018 NFL Draft.

Per the university's release, the new renderings detail the proposed 35,000 seat Aztec Warrior Stadium that could morph into a 55,000-seat facility for the National Football League in the event a team ever relocates to San Diego or an expansion franchise was awarded to America's Finest City.

One of the more noteworthy features of the proposed transforming stadium is a perforated aluminum panel exterior, apparently influenced by the sailboats in San Diego's harbor. The feature makes for dynamic color changes throughout the day.

The public reaction to the new renderings was predictable.

In addition to being somewhat blind, dumb and deaf to the needs of the city of San Diego, the SDSU plan for accommodating the NFL via shiny new renderings also failed to answer a touchdown of some pretty important questions:

  1. Is SDSU guaranteeing that the City will not bear any cost for the Qualcomm Stadium site after the end of the current contract this year?
  2. If that guarantee hasn’t been provided, what fee per ticket is SDSU offering the City?  (Total stadium expenses $7mm+, each dollar of ticket fees roughly equals $100k in payment)
  3. Doesn’t SDSU have to complete a full CEQA review on the site before they can start building their stadium?
  4. Why would the University spend an extra $150mm on the same stadium?
  5. In the letter to the Mayor from March 2017, SDSU said it was “imperative” they receive 0.27 parking spaces per stadium seat.  That would be 9,450 spaces for their stadium.  They are only proposing 6,000.  What changed and why did they decide they need less parking now than they said before?
  6. In a USA Today study, SDSU’s athletics program was shown to be the 9 highest loss maker of the 230 Division 1 schools.  With that backdrop, why would they take on all $15mm in debt service costs plus the ongoing operations and maintenance of the stadium alone?
  7. Why place the stadium in the North West corner, away from the traffic, if signage revenue is such a key piece of making a stadium work?

Perhaps one day we'll find out, but more than likely the stadium from these renderings and the promise that they offer will never manifest.

The U-T carried an interesting story this past week regarding the redevelopment of the Midway District area just north of downtown San Diego, south of Pacific Beach and west of the 5 Freeway.


In essence, city officials are proposing a transformation of the area around the city’s sports arena with a proposal that would deliver dense housing, modern commercial projects and 30 acres of parks. The area is considered ripe for redevelopment because of its central location and proximity to downtown and local beaches, as well as its generally decrepit streets, convoluted navigation and generally low population.

The current residential population hovers just around 4,600 and with this proposed update to the community plan that number would grow to about 27,000. Re-zoning land paves the way for developers to boost the number of housing units from just under 2,000 to more than 11,000.

This process is certainly years away from breaking ground, if even approved, but next to the future of Mission Valley, this area of San Diego is probably the most in need of revitalization.

The proposal is scheduled to be debated by the City Council’s Smart Growth and Land Use Committee on May 24, with a final version scheduled to be adopted by the full council on June 26.

Also this week, Circulate San Diego, a transportation and land use think tank, published a new study that concludes that San Diego's MTS has a Real Opportunity to transform several dozen acres of underused parking lots into affordable housing with easy access to public transportation corridors.

Circulate San Diego calculates that the MTS properties can support the development of 8,000 new homes, with more than 3,000 reserved as permanently affordable for low income families.

Circulate San Diego’s report recommends that MTS reform its policies to:

  • Create a joint development program that issues requests for proposals for priority sites and actively solicits near-term development partners.
  • Require that any residential development include a percentage of homes to be made permanently affordable for low income families.
  • Eliminate the costly requirement for new developments to replace or maintain parking where it is already underutilized.

“With the new leadership on the MTS Board, we believe that the transit agency has a real opportunity to transform its empty parking lots into affordable homes,” said report author Colin Parent, Executive Director and General Counsel with Circulate San Diego.

The inventory is concentrated in the eastern part of the city of San Diego, Chula Vista, El Cajon and Lemon Grove near bus and trolley stops.

“We’re totally supportive of maximizing the use of our property. If we could get 8,000 new units that would be fantastic,” said Rob Schupp, spokesman for MTS. “We field calls all the time and when developers come to us and when the climate is right, we do it.”

One to keep an eye on for sure. San Diego needs to be increasingly creative and dynamic when it comes to identifying opportunities to add housing stock to what is already a desperately impacted region. Ensuring that enough of the new housing inventory is affordable for the average person needs to be at the forefront of policy-makers' thinking when deciding how best to grow the infrastructure of San Diego.

Questions? Comments? Concerns? Leave a comment below and join the conversation.

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