San Diego State is a dynamic and evolving university with numerous recent accomplishments – each one building on our history of excellence and achievement. To give two examples, the creation of the Susan and Stephen Weber Honors College and the opening of the Conrad Prebys Aztec Student Union occurred at singular moments in time, but they were the results of decades of efforts by our university community. Similarly, SDSU’s emergence as a nationally renowned research university, while highlighted by a flurry of recent discoveries, reflects the collaborative efforts of faculty, staff, students and administrators over more than five decades.
Today, we have an opportunity that could alter the trajectory of our history for the next several decades. In a recent blog, I mentioned three touchstones for San Diego State’s continued success in the future – the highest-quality programs, service to students from diverse socio-economic backgrounds and financial strength. While our current campus footprint of 225 acres is sufficient to support our aspirations in the short term, we will, most assuredly, need more space for the long-term advancement of our university’s programs over the next 50 years.
The San Diego Chargers’ recent decision to leave Mission Valley and pursue a downtown stadium creates this critical opportunity. This decision opens up a host of possibilities for the future of the Qualcomm Stadium site – just eight minutes away by trolley from our College Avenue campus.
While some might argue that the Qualcomm site should be redeveloped along Mission Valley’s familiar high-density, automobile-dependent pattern, San Diego State supports a low- to medium-density vision focusing on sustainable recreational and educational uses.
We see a future in Mission Valley with community parks and recreational opportunities, low- to medium-density housing, a small number of research/technology transfer facilities and, possibly, a stadium – one on a significantly smaller scale than Qualcomm Stadium – that could be shared by San Diego State, a Major League Soccer franchise and other community partners. We are eager to join members of our community in discussing this vision.
The excitement and challenge of realizing such a vision will, of course, be in the details. One especially exciting aspect, mentioned earlier, is that the Metropolitan Transit System’s Trolley provides a rapid, easily accessible connection between our campus and the Qualcomm site. This existing transportation infrastructure is critical to realizing a sustainable, green vision for the redeveloped site and for our entire university. As just one example, faculty, staff and students residing on a redeveloped site could use the trolley system, instead of their cars, to get to campus. This would reduce traffic in Mission Valley and in the College Area, as well as reduce our entire community’s carbon footprint and parking challenges on our campus.
These possibilities will, of course, raise many detailed questions. Who would own the redeveloped site? Who would be the development partners? How would the redevelopment be financed? The blunt answer to these questions at this moment is that we don’t know.
It is, however, time for the communal discussion that will help us find these answers. The end point of a great adventure is rarely known, but the possibilities associated with any grand pursuit must first be envisioned. Let’s dream as a community, knowing that the opportunity to advance the future of our university is before us.