Rendering from San Diego State University Mission Valley site plan
A rendering from the San Diego State University’s Mission Valley site plan showing the proposed clock tower and Aztecs Stadium in the distance. Courtesy SDSU

San Diego State University released a letter accusing SoccerCity’s backers of “inaccurate and misleading statements” about the university’s proposed Mission Valley plan. The letter from Tom McCarron, SDSU’s chief financial officer, was sent to Nick and Mike Stone of FS Investors on Friday and released to the media on Monday. It is published here in full.

San Diego State University is the State of California acting in its higher education capacity and while it is restricted by law in certain matters relating to election campaigns, that restriction does not prohibit us from pointing out inaccuracies or misrepresentations about the university, even if made during a campaign. As such, we are compelled to send this letter asking SoccerCity, its affiliates and sponsors to refrain from making inaccurate or misleading statements as they relate to SDSU and the university’s proposed plan to redevelop the Mission Valley stadium site.

The website and other political advertisements make a number of factually questionable statements about the university, none of which has been substantiated by SDSU or its leadership.

Because of this and additional misinformation and inaccuracies about the SoccerCity plan’s ability to support SDSU’s future needs, we request you add the following disclaimer to your website and any other electronic, broadcast or print materials where claims about SDSU are made: None of these statements have been validated or endorsed by San Diego State University.

Please also correct the inaccurate and misleading statements about SDSU’s proposed Mission Valley plan in your materials. Four such statements are particularly egregious. First, the website is misleading in its statement that SDSU’s plan for Mission Valley would require new student fees or taxpayer funds. SDSU’s financing plan for the proposed development does not rely on either student fees or taxpayer funds, and it has repeatedly publicly stated that it will not raise either tuition or fees in order to pay for any portion of the development in Mission Valley, including the stadium. The plan would be funded through public-private partnerships, revenue generated from the uses on the site and philanthropic gifts. Any statement otherwise — including your statement that SoccerCity is the “only” plan that “will not raise student fees” — is unsubstantiated speculation that does not derive from any of the University’s plans.

Beyond being factually incorrect, such statements regarding the use of student fees betray ignorance of the California State University student fee process. We encourage you to educate yourself regarding the generation and use of student fees at the California State University system, including through the relevant Executive Orders.

Second, the various claims that the SoccerCity proposal “saves” the University money or is a “gift” to the University are also inaccurate and misleading. The latest statements are that the proposal is “saving the university $150 million” and that the stadium is a “gift valued at $100 million.” Each of these statements presupposes a set of facts and circumstances that do not presently exist and may never come to pass, and thus each statement is misleading. The statements are also inaccurate because there is no basis in fact to validate either of these dollar figures, including whether the figures include the effect of debt financing and anticipated debt payments, or if these numbers reflect how any such theoretical “gift” would be valued under accepted donor valuation guidelines and standards.

Third, unsubstantiated assertions that SDSU would not pay fair market value or wants the land for free, or that the University’s proposed site development would not generate any tax revenue, are additional examples of inaccurate and misleading statements. SDSU has repeatedly stated publicly that the university would pay fair market value for the stadium site and that it intends to develop the land using public-private partnerships that would be required to pay property taxes just like any other builder.

Finally, because the SoccerCity initiative makes no specific accommodations for SDSU in the present and has no requirement to accommodate the needs of SDSU in the future, the statements that the initiative provides any long-term benefits to the university in the form of student housing, classroom or academic space are at best misleading and inaccurate. There is no plan for a campus expansion as part of the SoccerCity plan and to assert otherwise misrepresents to the public the effect of the initiative on the University.

Again, we insist that you refrain from making such assertions and add the aforementioned disclaimer to your website and any other electronic, broadcast and print materials where these claims are made.