SAN DIEGO (KGTV) — California State University officials say they are worried that the sale of the Mission Valley stadium site will be adversely affected by the COVID-19 pandemic if the city doesn't act soon.
Wednesday, the purchase and sale agreement (PSA) for the city-owned stadium site failed to be placed on the City Council's May 19 meeting, according to Council President Pro Tem Barabara Bry.
Earlier this month, SDSU submitted a signed PSA to the city for consideration at the meeting.
Now, school officials are worried the city is dragging its feet and the pandemic could affect the sale moving forward. The looming worry is that possible budget cuts in the future due to COVID-19 will affect SDSU's purchase of the site.
During an online press conference Wednesday, California State University Board of Trustee Member Jack McGrory said it's time for the city to act.
"This is the time to make this deal, now. Before we get mired in the economic mess of cutting budgets and looking at all the projects that could potentially be cut. The time is now for the city to take advantage of this. To realize $87 million in acquisition proceeds. To take a $12 million stadium liability away from them and put it on the CSU side ... but we need to do it now," McGrory said. "And we're not going to wait any longer. We're not going to go back to extended, endless negotiation."
According to McGrory, the CSU will certainly seem some budget cuts down the line this year due to COVID-19.
In a letter to the city addressing concerns, Tom McCarron, senior vice president of SDSU Mission Valley Development, wrote in part:
"In addition to the many compromises reflected in the agreement, CSU/SDSU is providing comprehensive releases of the City from future liability, 18 broad indemnities protecting the City from potential future claims, covenants that run with the land, and multiple layers of enforcement rights and remedies in favor of the City. The agreement is squarely in line with the requirements of Measure G and is consistent with our offer which was supported by this Council. The City is well-protected and the deal that is represented here is fair and balanced for both parties, as well as the public we both serve."
McCarron adds that the PSA includes the $86.2 million purchase price for the site, at least $1.5 million time-value inflationary adjustments for the Public Utilities Department portion of the property, the obligation to take on expenses for the existing stadium, and constructing, maintaining, and operating the River Park in perpetuity.
If the PSA isn't placed on the docket, McGrory says, "there won't be a deal. That'd be really tragic for the city."
"I'm always open to go down and talk to the mayor again and discuss what their issues are, but we've made so many changes to this document. We are really unwilling to make anymore changes. They have to come to us and say there's a mistake in the document or something like that," McGrory said. "But fine tuning this thing is a waste of time at this point. It's been ground over for 15 months and it's time to move on."
Christina Chadwick, of Mayor Kevin Faulconer's office, says the city is working to make sure a fair deal is in place.
"The City is working hard at the City Council’s direction to ensure a fair deal that meets the spirit of Measure G. This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity with transformative potential for Mission Valley and the education system. We want to get it right, and we’re confident that once this transaction is complete it will be something all San Diegans can be proud of," Chadwick said.
Bry issued a statement, saying in part that Mayor Faulconer and City Attorney Mara Elliott owe "an explanation as to why this agreement can’t be considered."
"After 18 months of negotiations, mostly behind closed doors, with the City’s negotiating team repeatedly moving the goal posts during those negotiations, and with SDSU complying both in spirit and in substance with the terms of Measure G, the Mayor and City Attorney owe the City Council and the public an explanation as to why this agreement can’t be considered in public session on the date previously promised," Bry wrote. "Even worse, they are asking the City Council to approve an additional $150,000 expenditure for outside lawyers whose only visible contribution has been to delay the process."
San Diego voters approved Measure G in November 2018 by 55 percent, allowing the college and city to negotiate on the sale of the land.
In March 2020, the California State University Board of Trustee approved the plan for designing and financing Aztec Stadium and a month later, SDSU submitted its final revision to the PSA. A signed contract was sent to the city on May 5.