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Qualcomm Stadium and Its Future
A vision for 65* acres of 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 Qualcomm Stadium. 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.

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 Major 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.
  • Flooding and ecosystem health should be addressed by providing a 100 foot wide buffer along the river which will be restored by removing hardscape and planting with native plants.
  • A 50 - 100 foot wide linear river parkway connecting the existing trail and trolley station by the Mission Valley Library to the road leaving the stadium parking lot at the SE corner should be provided consistent with the City of San Diego's adopted River Park Master Plan. This plan was developed through a decade long public involvement process. This parkway includes a multi-use pathway which is known as the regional San Diego River Trail. This parkway is in addition to the 30 acre Major Park and should provide passive opportunities such as benches, shade structures, informational signs, public art and landscaping. Included in this area should be a neigborhood park of approximately 3 acres to serve the residents in Mission Valley which live to the 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.
  • A passive water-focused element of approximately 15 acres should be provided. 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 could include public serving facilities such as a restaurant with community gardens as well as a seasonal amphitheater. It can also provide a facility to further advance our understanding of the River. This element is for the people of our region as a way to celebrate our river, the birthplace of San Diego.


The River:

Any redevelopment of the site should help to heal the River. This would include creating a 100 foot buffer along the River's edge to provide 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 which could reduce it further in the eastern portion of the site.

Sub-total = 8 - 10 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 SD River Trail. 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 and up to 100 feet. This additional width would eliminate conflict between joggers, bicyclist, walkers and others. This space could provide public art and interpretation.

Sub-total = 4 - 8 acres:

Murphy Canyon Creek and Flooding:

For many years, this 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. It could also provide a some green space along the Creek. This could also a nice stream element to the neighborhood park and other elements. This redesign could help create a 3+ acre neighborhood park for the residents of Mission Valley on the east side of I-15. (This acreage is included in Parks - Meeting the Needs of the Community) Currently they have 0 park space available. The redesign also can assist with recharging water into the aquifer under the current parking lot and improve water quality. It can also utilize goundwater which would be pumped into this "creek" to help cleanse this water as well. This area needs to be further studied to explore technical aspects of posibilities.

Sub-total = 2 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 should be at the Stadium. Therefore, the River Park Foundation's position is that at least 20 acres of primarily active park land should be incorporated into any future plan. In addition, recent plans for Grantville have identified 10 acres for the community of Navajo which should be provided. When these are combined, the Navajo Community Plan calls for a 30 acre Major Park at the site as well as a 25,000 square foot recreation center.

Sub-total = 30 Acres

Parks - A Special River - Focused Park

The Stadium site presents an incredible opportunity to do more than the minimum but to add to the future quality of life of the community and our region while celebrating a namesake waterway, the San Diego River. Since our founding we have been asked for places to go to enjoy and interact with the River. A place that has water and a natural setting. A place that the community can design to meet its needs and to create a safe, enjoyable place to interact with nature, especially for our kids and grandkids. A featured element of the Stadium River Park is this 15 acre water-focused passive park. A place for summer concerts as well as for picnics. A place for River festivals and for school groups.

Sub-total = 15 acres

Total Acres: 59 - 65 Acres

* The range reflects the range of the Public Trail Corridor and the River Buffer

The benefit of removing up to 65 acres of impervious surface 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 the River could flood into it to reduce flooding elsewhere in Mission Valley. Imagine anytime it rains, how this would be a benefit.


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 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.

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 wih 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



May 30, 2017 Letter received from SoccerCity proponents (PDF)

We would love to hear from you!






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