Qualcomm Stadium Site Provides Opportunity to Advance SDSU

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.

San Diego River, west of Qualcomm Stadium

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 accessibleTwo MTS trolleys at Qualcomm Stadium in San Diego. Photo courtesy Metropolitan Transit System 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.

Researcher works in a lab at San Diego State University.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.


Filed under Athletics, Community, News, Uncategorized

23 responses to “Qualcomm Stadium Site Provides Opportunity to Advance SDSU

  1. Robert Snell

    The idea of SDSU becoming involved with the development of the Qualcomm Stadium is very exciting. I think it is a ‘grand pursuit,’ and it is encouraging that the university leadership has the vision to consider this project seriously. It is exactly this type of progressive thinking which will help propel the university to the forefront of the U.S. educational field.

  2. SDSU’s President has hit the ball out of the park! I fully support advancing his vision as the physical expansion of State is absolutely necessary to accommodate growth needs and competitive NCAA facilities! Just Do IT!!

  3. Angelica

    This sounds like an amazing idea. But I think it is important to have perspective and ask the questions that will inevitably come up. Like, for example, I can’t help but think: at who’s expense? We have a whole faculty who are ready and planning on striking in the next two weeks. We have students whose fees simply will not stop rising at such alarming rates. How do they plan on funding this endeavor? And are they funds that could be used to solve some of the current campus’s problems rather than expanding and inadvertently creating more problems? Bottom line, we are a learning institution and as important as it is to have these kinds of visions for the future growth of the University, we need to focus on making this the best learning and teaching environment for students, faculty, and staff alike.

  4. Victoria Lucas

    If the retrofit vs. build new tradeoff is in the balance for Love Library, perhaps among the other considerations for the new Mission Valley site might be a modern library. Turning the current library site into a satellite facility, with frequent shuttles for physical items, would allow modern information-access concepts to be developed in a larger space than the dome Library Addition and provide even more student satisfaction than presently, especially if colocated with residential and dining spaces,

  5. PMGM

    I’d like to see a decent pay scale for faculty and staff. The salary that I’m paid does not keep pace with the cost of living, and I am not even able to rent a decent one bedroom apartment in a respectable neighborhood. I think this should be a priority for the president. An annual cost of living salary increase should be part of the merit package that hard-working, educated faculty and staff should be offered.

  6. AztecsWantQualcomm

    The idea is amazing, astounding even. Not to consider this would be to ignore one of the oldest proverbs of all time, “nothing ventured nothing gained.” What a unique opportunity in San Diego County and to think that Qualcomm could host major events on campus such as SDSU’s Commencement ceremony in addition to SDSU sporting events? To not only create additional parking on campus (which is one of the largest issues) but to lessen the carbon footprint of our campus. The benefits go on and on; good credit goes to the President and his staff on this initiative, as part of the growth of our campus to continue to strive to be more competitive every day. Kudos!

  7. I am grateful for the inclusion of the photograph of the San Diego River and the ideas that are brought to mind of SDSU’s potential role in river preservation and study; what a good “think tank” for students. Rethinking Mission Valley in conjunction with the incorporation, not the removal, of the abundant natural resources and spaces is exciting. SDSU could certainly prove a powerful partner in this collaborative effort.

  8. Chunting Mi

    A very ambitious and yet doable plan. If it is approved by the state/city, it could bring SDSU to the top spot of the U.S. ranking a lot quicker! I am very pleased with the university leadership and its forward-looking approach!

  9. Bob

    The new football stadium built as part of a new campus annex would be awesome. SDSU should look at Avaya Stadium in San Jose as a model for the football stadium. It was built for about $100 million a couple of years ago. Costs were kept down because there was no poured concrete used to build the stadium seating areas.

    Another idea is build a new Aztec Bowl on campus, such as in the ravine just north of Parking Structure 4, and leave the Qualcomm site for more SDSU expansion buildings. Having an on-campus stadium would do for the football program what Viejas did for the basketball program, and add to the already great SDSU campus experience.

  10. Mark Wheeler

    Dear President Hirshman,

    I infer from this blog post two salient ideas (neither of which is made explicit). I also infer what seems to me to be an unfortunate accident. I’ll deal with the last point first.

    The unfortunate accident has to do with timing. It seems tactless to suggest that SDSU might consider investing in the Qualcomm site when, in less than 2 weeks, faculty at SDSU (and across the CSU) are planning to go on strike because they are overworked and underpaid. Feels like a slap in the face. Let’s first discuss adequate investment in faculty and students before we worry over Qualcomm.

    Now turning to the first salient idea. You seem to suggest that SDSU might, in the not too distant future, either own the Qualcomm site or share in the ownership of the site. This is an intriguing idea, if not amazing and astounding. I think it would help to know the rough financial contours of the proposal. For example, how much is the site worth, given the current market? What existing or potential resources would SDSU use in order to fund such a venture? Et cetera. I know these sorts of fiscal questions are hard to answer with certainty. And I respect your blunt assertion that we don’t know the answers to them. However, some description of the likelihoods–as you understand them–is crucial for any sensible discussion of the idea.

    The second idea, which may be more salient than the first, is your suggestion that the Qualcomm site might become a significant part of the SDSU campus. If you can make the case that SDSU can afford the real estate, and can do so while still prioritizing adequate investment in students, faculty and staff, then the question of how this real estate might be used to forward high quality education at SDSU is crucial. How, exactly, do you envision the use of this site to further our essential educational mission? It is important that you make this crystal clear, since at first blush the obvious–if not only–reason SDSU would consider buying the site is to preserve its football program.

    Yours truly,


    Mark Wheeler
    Associate Professor
    Department of Philosophy

  11. Given that the tenant rather than the owner of Qualcomm has proposed this transaction; and that the city has given no indication of wanting to change the use of the Qualcomm site; and that there has been significant opposition to the idea of a downtown TOT funded stadium, isn’t this announcement a bit premature? Is it wise to give the appearance that SDSU is siding with the Chargers in its efforts to get a taxpayer funded downtown stadium?

    • Art Flaming

      Good move, why not let the Alumni invest in ownership, profit @ loss as investment, also to help school I would invest at least !,00,000 Art Flaming

  12. Response to SDSU President’s vision for the future
    By Walter Sorochan
    Emeritus Professor: San Diego State University

    The president should be congratulated for his future vision.

    Several issues pop up when reading the responses in the blog:
    1. We need to envision Qualcomm Stadium and surrounding land as a separate issue from current issues like salary-labor dispute and retro-fitting Love Library. Important as these issues may be, these issues stifle our ability to envision a dream and being creative for the future.

    2. Many of the issues expressed in the blog are trees in the forest. The president and faculty need a bold ‘forest’ vision not for this year but 30 to 50 years from now.

    3. The stadium would provide a home for the Aztecs. It is more than adequate in its existing condition as a campus site for home games and other outdoor events. We should not be mesmerized by the Charger mass media blitzes that the stadium is old and needing a retrofit. As a football stadium it is currently an old football magnet for many spectators; although it is somewhat short-sighted to think of the stadium as dysfunctional. It still has many years of good service left.

    4. The many acres surrounding the stadium provide a nearby acreage for future expansion. This is a vital consideration in the future campus expansion. Expansion is a necessity for growth.

    5. The tram link between the existing mesa campus and the Mission Valley stadium site should be looked upon as a minor drawback and can be work in progress. The tram system can be transitioned into a rapid transport connection that allows faculty, staff and students instant access back and forth. Such details for the future can all be worked out in this technology era.

    6. Investment in faculty and staff is important. Although being underpaid and not updating a cost-of-living is important to faculty, staff and the administration at this time, this issue is a separate one from presenting a vision for the future. The two are not in the same pot! Hopefully the current salary issue will settled amicably to everyone’s satisfaction. With future expansion will come better salaries.

    7. The President’s timing of releasing a plan for the future was a ‘window of opportunity’ to provide the Chargers football team and others involved in the Chargers stadium snafu an opportunity to include a opportune vision for where SDSU might fit in. It was not to belittle the salary dispute.

    Important as these issues may appear for the moment, these issues are not the big event here. Most spectators have an image of Qualcomm becoming the home of the football team. But this is very short-sighted and self-serving. The big event here is the ability for SDSU to grow and expand in not just acquiring a stadium and a site for future buildings, but escalating university programs in ways other than just athletics. 30 or 50 years from today people will not place importance on the football stadium, for football teams come and go. Instead academics will become big-time and are here to stay! Well, we may still have a football team, but the real emphasis will be SDSU functioning as an academic and research institution that will compete with the best academic institutions in the world. Most students go to university to learn and acquire skills and not just play football! The Mission Valley property will allow SDSU to provide prospective future students with the world skills needed to compete in a new era of technology.

    You need to reach for a dream that is beyond your grasp … to the stars. This is a dream that helps us to think bigger than now when the time is right and we have a chance to do so!

  13. Monika Slater

    It is interesting timing indeed. At the same time faculty needs to go on strike to receive the financial support needed to continue in the pursuit of excellent teaching and pedagogy, the university announces it intentions to pursue the redevelopment of the Qualcomm Stadium site into “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.” Following is the university’s mission statement – in remembrance of times past?

    The mission of San Diego State University shall be to provide well-balanced, high quality education for undergraduate and graduate students and to contribute to knowledge and the solution of problems through excellence and distinction in teaching, research, and service. The university shall impart an appreciation and broad understanding of human experience throughout the world and the ages. This education shall extend to
    1. Diverse cultural legacies,
    2. Accomplishments in many areas, such as the arts and technology,
    3. The advancement of human thought, including philosophy and science,
    4. The development of economic, political, and social institutions, and the physical and biological evolution of humans and their environment.
    The university shall accomplish this through its many and diverse departments and interdisciplinary programs in the creative and performing arts, the humanities, the natural and mathematical sciences, and the social and behavioral sciences.
    2.0 Academic Goals
    2.1 To encourage the intellectual and creative development of a diverse group of students …
    2.2 To foster development of critical thinking, writing, reading, oral communication, and quantitative and qualitative analysis as well as a commitment to lifelong learning and international perspectives…
    2.3 To provide the basis for informed citizenship in a democracy;
    2.4 To offer advanced undergraduate and graduate students professional training and preparation for further study in a broad range of disciplines…
    2.5 To support faculty in developing specialized contributions to knowledge…
    2.6 To support faculty in their professionally-related community activities …
    2.7 To encourage scholarship…
    2.8 To continue our commitment to research…
    3.0 The Faculty
    Given these challenges and academic goals, we hope to create
    3.1 A faculty of teacher-scholars. …
    3.2 A faculty that … provide quality degree programs. …
    3.3 A faculty that is diverse. …
    3.4 A faculty that provides international perspectives. …
    Please, continue reading @ https://newscenter.sdsu.edu/home/mission_and_goals.aspx

  14. Audrey Tousant Shelby

    I fully support this idea!

  15. Joy

    Surprised to see my picture here…nice to see that I’m the new face of research at SDSU!

  16. Deep Questions

    Is it just me or is it sort of tacky and tone deaf to post this right now when the CSU cannot even properly care for their own faculty?

  17. Performing Arts Facilities

    It is always good to see leadership with a vision for the future and thinking outside the box for long term goals.

    In any conversation involving campus expansion we must discuss a much needed Performing Arts Center that is sorely lacking in the entire San Diego area. A serious concert hall that encourages the performing arts is a vital part of any respectable university and something that currently does not exist at SDSU. The Don Powell Theatre is an unacceptable and dismal acoustic space that only seats 500, while all other venues are far too small (think of the basketball team still playing in Peterson Gym).

    The entire city is lacking a venue that seats between 800-1,200. Most SD performing arts venues either max out at 500 seats or have go all the way up to 2,500 seats, which is too large a space. A venue such as this could house many city-wide performing arts concerts that will in turn create a source of revenue for the university. The space could do for the performing arts what Viejas Arena has done for the basketball team while also serving as a major concert site for the city.

    Arts Alive SDSU has shined the light on a vibrant arts culture at SDSU, but the complete lack of viable, world-class venues on this campus could and should be addressed within this matter.

  18. Carol Prime

    Dear President Hirshman, SDSU Colleagues, and Interested San Diego Community Members:

    I wish to start with facts about our campus and community:
    1) SDSU is currently overcrowded, needing more space for the classes that we currently offer. I know this to be a fact because I have spent two decades finding off-campus classrooms for credential program courses, as well as observed while the School of Teacher Education Coordinator tried to find open classrooms for our courses on campus.
    2) San Diego is far from affordable. One colleague mentioned the untimeliness of this adventure because of the need for faculty raises, but I use the same facts to support the timeliness of this idea. As faculty, we are extremely underpaid, especially considering how expensive it is to live in San Diego. Therefore, planning affordable housing for students and faculty makes absolute sense to me, especially if it is combined with an existing transportation system that alleviates the need for a car.
    3) According to SANDAG’s regional growth forecast, the city of San Diego is expected to reach 1,542,324 by 2020, 1,690,232 by 2030, and 2,000,000 around 2050. The county is expected to grow from 3,000,000 to 4,000,000 by 2050. SDSU must grow to meet the needs of our growing region.
    4) San Diego County has too few parks for its current population, let alone for the population growth expected. So including parkland in the plan makes absolute sense.
    5) Mission Valley is a prime location for a cultural and performing arts center due to the proximity of hotels, apartments, and condominiums.
    6) Available developable land near SDSU is nearly non-existent. If we do not take advantage of the space in Mission Valley, we may never have this chance again.
    7) A university is a place for big ideas and vision.

    As a former member of a county Community Planning Group, I understand the need to plan ahead wisely. I also understand the need for community engagement. I support moving ahead to see who in the community wishes to partner with SDSU to plan for our Big Future.

  19. Thad Gustafson

    There’s no doubt that the highest quality programs come from the highest quality minds and that we need to take care of the great faculty at SDSU. At the same time, it’s great to see forward thinking and a plan for the future. I am not sure the two need to be mutually exclusive. Here’s to hoping win-win solutions are aggressively pursued and that we don’t let politics corrupt creative thinking.

  20. I hope to see this in the near future!

  21. Brian Butler

    Noting all the thoughtful and impressive comments below I’d just like to add that early 2017 appears to be the time to take steps toward a schedule for making SDSU West a reality. If the plan is still being held up by the Chargers inaction then Dr. Hirshman should give us an update and work behind the scenes for a resolution. Hope to hear something soon.
    Brian Butler
    Class of 1973

  22. Michael foulks

    I hope and pray SDSU will re engage with FS Investors. The best way forward for SDSU is hand in hand with its host city. And the city LOVES soccer city.

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