Mayor Kevin Faulconer answers questions after the press conference on Friday. Photo by Chris Jennewein

Mayor Kevin Faulconer on Friday backed an investor group’s plan for the Qualcomm Stadium site, saying there is something for all parties — including San Diego State University — and expressing urgency in moving ahead.

“I support this plan as an Aztec alum,” he said at a press conference. “If we don’t move forward now, it’s likely nothing will happen at Qualcomm for years and years.”

The mayor’s support drew quick criticism from San Diego State University, which issued a statement saying the plan is “not in the best interests of the City of San Diego or of San Diego State University.”

The SoccerCity plan by La Jolla-based FS Investors calls for building a new stadium for both a major-league soccer team and SDSU football, along with 4,000 housing units, 800 student apartments, 60 acres of parkland, office and retail space, and two hotels.

No taxpayer money would be involved. The land would be leased at a fair market value determined by the city, and FS Investors has committed to additional annual payments equal to 10 percent of that amount.

Michael Stone, founder of FS Investors, said he believed the plan meets all of SDSU’s requirments and he hoped the university, which ended discussions Tuesday, would return to the table. He said recent changes to the plan include:

  • A commitment to increase the stadium from an initial 33,500 seats to 40,000 seats to accommodate future SDSU football games, provided the university agrees to the plan by Dec. 1.
  • 47 acres of land for university expansion under a variety of options

Steve Altman, a member of the development group and a longtime SDSU booster, said he was disappointed in the school’s stance.

“We provide what I believe is a great solution to a real and immediate problem that is being faced by the university’s football program,” Altman said. “I hope that as time goes on, they will get behind this and support it because I think it is a very positive outcome for them.”

SDSU, in its statement, said it shared “the excitement of a joint-use stadium, affordable housing, and a River Park, as well as the prospect of an MLS team,” but criticized the process by which the FS Investor’s plan moved forward.

“Good public policy for the redevelopment of this site demands the intelligent interest of all willing stakeholders, including the Mission Valley Planning Group, higher education, the environmental community, willing developers and the City of San Diego—not a chosen few,” the university said.

Councilman Scott Sherman, who represents Mission Valley, said he supported bringing major league soccer to San Diego, calling it “the sport of the future,” and added that the SoccerCity project meets a long list of goals. He cited new tax revenue for the city, new jobs, more housing and a “world class park” along the San Diego River.

Voter approval of the lease is required, with a ballot measure set for the Nov. 7 general election.

Chris Jennewein

Chris Jennewein is Editor & Publisher of Times of San Diego.