Bob Schulz, the vice president for real estate assets at San Diego State University, revealed last week the university had no immediate need for the Qualcomm Stadium site in Mission Valley. Now he’d like to update that statement.

First, some background. The 230 acres under and around Qualcomm Stadium belongs to the city of San Diego. One proposal seeks to push the city, through a ballot initiative, to sell it for development by FS Investors. FS hopes to build a soccer stadium, thousands of homes, offices and an entertainment district along with a large riverfront park.

SDSU officials negotiated with FS Investors for a year to share the stadium before talks fell apart. Now, the university wants the city to provide enough space for a new collegiate football stadium, a parking lot and 35 acres for development.

What caught my attention at a forum I moderated Thursday for Citizens Coordinate for Century 3, was Schulz’s explanation that, while the university is constrained at its current site on “The Mesa” and is much smaller than many comparable academic institutions, the university does not need those 35 acres apart from the football stadium right now.

“Initially we would develop that with a joint venture partner it would probably be office type space that would go on the tax rolls and support revenue for the city of San Diego and then we would actually grow into it over the next 30-50 years after it’s been capitalized and profitized by the developer,” Schulz said.

When I followed up on that, during the forum, I asked, “You’re saying you don’t need the land now. What you would do is get it developed and then push them out eventually as you need it?”

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“Exactly,” he said.

As he pointed out, SDSU is now 120 years old. It has to think long term about its property. It would be wise for it to secure land like this now, even if it doesn’t need it for several decades.

It flew in the face, though, of recent rhetoric about how the land could immediately be turned into a university campus. And FS Investors seized on that as an important concession.

By the weekend, Schulz said he wanted to add some thoughts, and sent over this statement:

When I said we would not need the expansion for traditional academic space right away, I neglected to point to other SDSU needs that are more near term. If we were able to purchase the land for an expansion we could also use it in the near term for campus needs such as Extended Studies classes and student housing. It’s also worth noting that our Research Foundation leases thousands of square feet of space off campus that we would consolidate onto a new research campus if one was available to house portions of our researcher activities. Additionally, as I noted in the panel discussion, we would build additional housing, office and research space sooner to generate property tax revenues and serve the community, with long term ownership assumed by the University to support future needs.

Those needs are more near-term.

I asked FS Investors’ Nick Stone if he had any comment on all of Schulz’s points.

“We have very consistently said to the university we are very happy to build to their needs and we have repeatedly asked them what they need immediately and they’ve repeatedly said nothing,” Stone said. “We’re still open to having that conversation.”

It seems even more likely now that FS Investors’ SoccerCity plan will be placed on the ballot in a November special election alongside a financing plan and hotel-room tax increase for expansion of the Convention Center.

    This article relates to: Land Use, Must Reads, SoccerCity

    Written by Scott Lewis

    Scott Lewis oversees Voice of San Diego’s operations, website and daily functions as Editor in Chief. He also writes about local politics, where he frequently breaks news and goes back and forth with local political figures. Contact Scott at or 619.325.0527, and follow him on Twitter at @vosdscott.

    Rene Kaprielian
    Rene Kaprielian

    Bob Schultz of SDSU is all over the map when it comes to SDSU housing needs.  SDSU is currently in the EIR process to develop a massive student housing complex at the west end of campus that will add an additional 2,700 beds next to the 800 bed Chapultepec dorm structure.  To pull this off they are planning to build into the canyon, which is deemed sensitive land by the City.  Neighbors are vowing to fight this poorly conceived proposal.  SDSU needs to come clean with the community with what it really needs and stop acting like a for profit enterprise.

    Bob Gardner
    Bob Gardner subscriber

    Since several members of the city council were willing to sell the Qualcomm Stadium site to the Chargers for $1, I would recommend that the entire parcel be sold to San Diego State University for $2 (and we double our money) with the proviso that the land be used entirely by the university and not be sublet to any private enterprise except in the normal business of running a university (eg - a pizza company in student housing) and furthermore that the university assume all outstanding current and future liabilities.

    Carl Starrett
    Carl Starrett

    @Bob Gardner Scott Sherman had a harebrained idea of LEASING the Qualcomm site to the Chargers for a $1 per year for 99 years. It was little more than a publicity stunt and some of council members who signed the letter didn't even read it.

    If SDSU wants the land, the can get in line with the other people who are offering to pay fair market value for it.

    Carl Starrett
    Carl Starrett

    I have been utterly confused an exasperated by the leadership at SDSU. FS Investors has been controlling the narrative on this from the beginning and making SDSU look like a rudderless ship, adrift in a sea of half baked competing plans, wishlists and mixed signals. Now perhaps some of this can be attributed to President Hirshman's unexpected departure, but they simply aren't being specific enough about what they want or need.

    On the surface, the plan by FS Investors seems like a decent plan that would accommodate SDSU's wishlist. I've not seen anything from their wishlist that couldn't be worked out with FS Investors and I haven't seen anything specific from SDSU about the would use the land beyond a football stadium. "Well, we might do this and we might do that" isn't good enough. Show us your vision and make your case or get out of the way.