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Qualcomm Stadium and Its Future
A vision for at least 60 acres of a river park & river and creek improvements

Perspective of Concept

Click here for a PDF of above image (large file)


A Concept Many Years in the Making

For many years, like many people in San Diego, the San Diego River Park Foundation has thought about the future of the Stadium in Mission Valley. We have also been involved in many discussions with Community Planning Groups, elected officials, planners and others about what might happen if the site was redeveloped. Based upon more than a decade of effort, we developed a sense of guiding principles for what could become of the site. We then commissioned the highly regarded Schmidt Design Group to put these principles into a conceptual master plan. The principles could be applied in other ways as well. Hopefully, the Schmidt Design Group plan serves as a catalyst for discussion!

Click here For PDF of the Concept Plan (large file)

Our principles for the 166 acre site

  • The San Diego River is a historical and biological treasure which has incredible potential to add value to this site, the Mission Valley community and the region.
  • 30 acres for a major publicly accessible park should be provided as identified in the Mission Valley and Navajo Community Plans. These public parks are needed by these communities and should consist of active and passive uses consistant with the City of San Diego General Plan.
  • 10 acre ecosystem health and flood maangement area should be by providing a 100 foot wide buffer along the river which will be restored by removing hardscape and planting with native plants. At least a 50 foot planted natural area should be along Murphy Canyon Creek.
  • 5 acres for a 50 foot wide (minimum) linear park with the regional San Diego River Trail traversing the entire site to connect to the existing River Trail Segment by the Mission Valley Library and nearby trolley station and extending to the road leaving the stadium parking lot at the SE corner. This linear park with the trail should be consistent with the City of San Diego's adopted River Park Master Plan. This parkway should benches, shade structures, informational signs, public art and landscaping. A neighborhood park should be provided near the southeast corner to serve the people in Mission Valley east of I 15.
  • Flooding and water quality concerns associated with Murphy Canyon Creek should be addressed by realigning the creek, naturalizing it and incorporating it into park elements as is technically feasible.
  • 15 acre water-focused feature which celebrates our River, the heart of our region. This will be a destination for San Diegans and visitors. A place where people can see and interact with water, something that isn't easy to do with the River. It should be a special place for San Diego place much like the Public Garden in Boston or Millenium Park is to Chicago. Imagine a small pond with a restaurant, kayaks for rent, a seasonal amphitheater, community organic farm - the possibilities are endless. But first and foremost it would be a place to celebrate our historic river.


The River and Murphy Canyon Creek:

Any redevelopment of the site should help to heal the River. This would include creating a 100 foot buffer along the River's riparian forest to transition to what is considered "upland" habitat. There is incredible opportunity to provide this space for wildlife and the ecosystem. It is a place where the River transitions to the built environment and it is essential. The existing trolley line may impact the buffer in the eastern portion of the site.

For many years, Murphy Canyon Creek has had ongoing sediment and flooding issues. Right now, the Creek has been encapsulated in an artificial drainage channel. It isn't good for the Creek or the River. The current design forces the Creek along the eastern perimeter of the parking lot so that it enters the River at a right angle. On a regular basis, the Creek breaks free and ends up flooding the existing parking area. Therefore, we have proposed that at some point along its course, the Creek be re-engineered to have a more natural flow and entry point into the River. This is where the Creek wants to be and it could be incorporated into parkland. It is important that the existing creek be naturalized and add transitional upland habitat. This "buffer" would be about 2 acres. This area needs to be further studied to explore technical feasibility of any options.

Sub-total = 10 acres.

A Special River - Focused Park

The Stadium site presents an incredible opportunity to add to the quality of life of the community and our region while celebrating our namesake waterway, the San Diego River. Since our founding we have been asked for places to go to enjoy and interact with the River. People are looking for a place that has water and a natural setting. A place that provides green space in an increasingly urban community. A safe, enjoyable place to interact with nature, especially for our kids and grandkids. A featured element of our proposed Stadium River Park is this 15 acre water-focused passive park and civic destination. A place for summer concerts as well as for picnics. A place for festivals, special ceremonies, and urban agriculature. A place for being to come together to create a sense of community. It could even have a water oriented restaurant, cafe or other establishment. The possibilities are endless.

Sub-total = 15 acres

The Public Trail Corridor:

The City of San Diego's River Park Master Plan calls for a minimum 35 foot wide greenbelt for the regional San Diego River Trail. This linear public park would include this multi-purpose recreational path. We believe that it needs to be wider to accomodate more people. Therefore, we have advocated for a corridor which has a minimum width of 50 feet. This additional width would eliminate conflict between joggers, bicyclist, walkers and others. This space could provide public art, gardens and interpretation.

Sub-total = 5 acres:

Parks - Meeting the Needs of the Community:

There are limited parks to serve the approximately 20,000 people that currently live in Mission Valley as well as surrounding communities. The River Park Master Plan and the Mission Valley Community Plan calls for this problem to be addressed, at least partially, at the Stadium. The River Park Foundation has been told that the community needs at least 50 acres of parks to bring it up to standard. Much of this is planned to be at the Stadium. In addition, the nearby community of Navajo (which includes Grantville) is planning that 10 acres of its future park needs are at the Stadium. Therefore, the River Park Foundation's position is that at least 30 acres of public parks should be provided to meet the needs of the community. This would also include a 25,000 square foot recreation center. Playing fields and other active uses would be located here as well as passive uses. The area should be designed with community input.

Sub-total = 30 Acres

Total Acres: 60 acres

* This is the minimum acreage needed. Of course, it could be larger.

The benefit of removing 60 acres or more of parking lots and replacing it with permeable surfaces will help the River considerably. It will also help water re-charge the large aquifer which is currently under the Stadium parking lot. Much of it could be designed so if needed it could flood. This would reduce flooding elsewhere in Mission Valley. Imagine anytime it rains, how this would be a benefit and how wonderful it would be to go see "the River."

What would this cost?

As part of the development of this plan, a preliminary cost estimate was developed for a 55 acre River Park. It did not include flood and other improvements along Murphy Canyon Creek or the 100 ft buffer.. Not including a 25,000 square foot Recreation Center, the cost would be $52,835,945. When you include contingencies and overhead costs the cost increases to $71,487,034. Link to Details for Cost Estimate (PDF)

The cost of the Recreation Center is built into the Facilities Financing Plan for the Communities of Navajo and Mission Valley. For planning purposes an estimate of $19,687,500 was developed for this facility. We would anticipate that this expense would be paid by the fees which are collected when development occurs in these two communities, grants, or other funding sources.

These estimates are for planning purposes only. Of course, they would be modified based upon final design and engineering. Please contact us, and we would be happy to share how these numbers where developed. Different funding sources could be available and the San Diego River Park Foundation is ready to work with all interested parties to secure these funds.

The San Diego River Park Foundation is also willing to work with anyone developing proposals for the future re-positioning of some or all this site. We believe that creating an incredible public river park will enhance the quality of life in Mission Valley, be a destination for San Diegans and visitors, and can be a catalyst for fostering appreciation and enjoyment of the river system and nature in general. It also benefits this important natural and cultural resource.

We invite your comments, ideas and involvement. What are your thoughts on this? Post them on our Facebook page or email our CEO and Co-Founder, Rob Hutsel at or call him at 619-297-7380 x 108.



In January our CEO and Board of Directors met with representatives of SDSU to discuss planning efforts. We will continue to advocate for our position of 60 acres dedicated to parks, public spaces, trails, ecosystem enhancements and waterway improvements.

We encourage you to participate in public meetings and other opportunities to advocate for your vision.

We would love to hear from you!






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