Two years after helping the San Diego Zoo fund a bridge, a local philanthropist is helping San Diego State University build a football stadium.

Dianne L. Bashor is giving $15 million to fund construction of the school’s planned Mission Valley stadium with 35,000 seats, according to the school.

The Daily Aztec student paper was first to report the field would be named Bashor Field at Aztec Stadium.

“The announcement was made by university president Adela de la Torre late Thursday at a news conference,” said The San Diego Union-Tribune. “The lead donation from Bashor, who is not an alumni, brings the total committed to the stadium effort at just shy of $30 million.”

Artist’s conception of Bashor Field at Aztec Stadium. Image via SDSU

“Mrs. Bashor believes in San Diego State University’s vision and its dedication to academic excellence that places student success at the core of its mission,” said Adrienne Vargas, SDSU interim vice president for university relations and development and CEO of The Campanile Foundation. “SDSU is fortunate to have a generous friend in Mrs. Dianne Bashor and her gift is a reaffirmation that after more than 122 years, this university continues to earn widespread support.”

The gift by Bashor, 77, is one of the largest single donations ever made to SDSU, the school said.

SDSU Athletics Director John David Wicker called the donation “a critical step” in the university’s proposed Mission Valley expansion. He reiterated the school’s intention to break ground for the new stadium in April 2020.

“We are grateful to Mrs. Dianne Bashor, a member of our community who believes in SDSU and is willing to invest in a stadium that is being built not just for SDSU, but for the community as a whole,” Wicker said. “The stadium will provide a true home field advantage for the Aztec football team and will positively impact the rest of our department as well as the overall institution.”

Bashor — who along with her late husband, businessman Jim Bashor, is known for bequeathing significant gifts to such institutions as the San Diego Zoo, San Diego Imperial Council and the Boy Scouts of America — described her university donation as “a commitment to not only a great university, but (also to) the San Diego community.”

Last month, the City Council unanimously voted to move forward with San Diego State University’s offer of $86.2 million to purchase and redevelop the SDCCU Stadium site, directing the city’s negotiators to continue drafting a formal transaction document with the goal of approving it by January and closing escrow by the end of March.

In 2017, U-T columnist Diane Bell told of how Jim and Dianne Bashor of La Jolla made a multimillion-dollar donation to create a Patriots Fund.

“While they declined to divulge the exact amount, it will guarantee in perpetuity the Zoo’s longtime tradition of offering active-duty military personnel free entry year-round to the Zoo and Safari Park,” Bell wrote.

Jim Bashor died last year, and he was posthumously recognized with a plaque atop Mount Soledad at the National Veterans Memorial.

Dianne Bashor has dabbled in political donations as well, giving to several Republicans — U.S. Senate candidate Matt Fong ($1,000) in 1998, congressional candidate Brian Bilbray ($2,500) in 2012 and presidential candidate Rudy Giuliani ($2,300) in 2007, according to opensecrets.org. (James Bashor gave more than $40,000 to various GOP candidates and causes between 1998 and 2012.)

The Daily Aztec said the stadium would set aside 5,000 seats for students, “along with student-specific amenities including discounted concessions that can be purchased through meal plan funds.”

SDSU Chief Financial Officer Tom McCarron told the student paper that the university would finance stadium construction costs through a combination of philanthropic donations, a stadium naming rights deal, seat licenses for season tickets, sponsorships and a financing plan through the CSU system.

A 2009 article in San Diego Magazine headlined “Life on the A-List” noted that the Bashors were members of both the La Jolla Beach & Tennis Club and La Jolla Country Club.

“Some San Diegans don’t have to choose between the two La Jolla clubs; they belong to both of the biggies,” wrote Julia Beeson Polloreno. “Among them: attorney Roy Bell and his U-T columnist wife, Diane, developer Doug Manchester, former San Diego city councilman Scott Peters, Chargers president Dean Spanos and his wife, Susie, and businessman Jim Bashor and his wife, Dianne.”

— City News Service contributed to this report

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