JMI Sports made fallen SDSU athletics director Jeff Schemmel head of its operations.
  • JMI Sports made fallen SDSU athletics director Jeff Schemmel head of its operations.
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The raw power of San Diego's big money politics is again on display with news that a company founded by ex-Padres owner John Moores will take over development of San Diego State University's proposed Mission Valley stadium.

John Moores donated $98,500 to campaign four days before election. This was on top of previous $122,000.

John Moores donated $98,500 to campaign four days before election. This was on top of previous $122,000.

"On behalf of SDSU and in collaboration with SDSU Athletics, JMI Sports and Legends will manage the stadium project as part of the proposed campus expansion at SDSU Mission Valley.," per a May 17 announcement posted online by the school.

The cost to state taxpayers of the arrangement was not disclosed.

"This is an exciting collaboration, and this joint venture will greatly enhance our capacity to create the types of experiences our students, faculty, staff, regional community and visitors have yet to see," said SDSU President Adela de la Torre in a statement posted three days later on JMI's website.

John Kratzer, head of JMI Realty. His wife Kara donated $98,500, the same day as Moores' last-minute donation.

John Kratzer, head of JMI Realty. His wife Kara donated $98,500, the same day as Moores' last-minute donation.

"With the proposed stadium, campus and other features, the new neighborhood environment we plan to build will create the types of social, intellectual and economic benefits that will invigorate our entire region," de la Torre said.

"I am proud of our team. I am also grateful for the vision we have defined and will now carry forward with our partners in JMI Sports and Legends."

L.A.-based Legends, which describes itself as "a holistic experiential services agency" specializes in arranging naming rights for a cut of the action. Its latest client is the L.A. Rams and ex-San Diego Chargers' Inglewood stadium, set to open next year.

Jack McGrory put in $170,000.

Jack McGrory put in $170,000.

Per JMI's release, "JMI Sports and Legends will plan, strategize and execute ticketing, premium sales, naming rights and founding partnerships for the proposed stadium. As proposed, the 35,000-capacity multi-use stadium will serve primarily as the home of SDSU football and will accommodate professional and collegiate soccer matches, concerts, other events, and can play host to a number of academic and integrated experiences."

The only holdup now, according to a statement by SDSU athletic director J.D. Wicker, is the deal to be cut between the city council and the California State University system to turn over the real estate formerly known as Qualcomm Stadium, as permitted by voters last year.

Secret negotiations between SDSU and San Diego Republican mayor Kevin Faulconer are continuing.

SDSU's rough and tumble campaign, one of costliest in city history, drew backing from money men with prospective financial interests in the Mission Valley deal, including Moores, who four days before the election personally kicked in $98,500.

The same day, Kara M. Kratzer, whose husband John is CEO of Moores-owned JMI Realty, gave an equal sum, city campaign disclosure records show. JMI itself earlier gave a total of $122,000.

Inside observers note the SDSU project would have been dead on arrival without backing and behind-the-scenes direction from Moores and his minions.

Topping the list is ex-city manager and former Moores executive Jack McGrory, now a California State University trustee who was head cheerleader and behind-the-scenes money mover for SDSU's takeover of the roughly 132-acre Mission Valley site.

McGrory, chief rainmaker for the university's campaign, run by an ostensibly independent political fund calling itself Friends of SDSU, personally kicked in $170,000. That represents a significant chunk of the total $204,922 that McGrory has come up with for city political campaigns over the last decade.

SDSU's takeover of the city's Mission Valley stadium site was first promoted by JMI in a $35-a-person dog-and-pony show hosted by the university in April 2016, entitled, "A New Vision for SDSU: JMI Unveils Its West Campus and Stadium Plan." Observers now look for future real estate development deals to materialize once the land is in SDSU’s hands.

"The JMI team (represented by President John Kratzer and Steve Peace), working in concert with Steve Black of Cisterra Development, another prominent San Diego developer (and SDSU alumni), will unveil their proposal to develop the Qualcomm Stadium site into a civic gem that all SDSU alumni and San Diego County residents will claim proudly," said a widely circulated invitation.

Black subsequently came up with $50,000 for the Friends of SDSU campaign drive on October 3, 2017, records show.

Founded in 2006 as JMI Sports, the Moores affiliate now running the stadium show at SDSU has had a scandal-fraught relationshipwith the school. In 2011, the firm made fallen SDSU athletics director Jeff Schemmel head of its operations.

"I'm thrilled to be part of a company that provides a much-needed array of services on this ever-changing intercollegiate athletics landscape," Schemmel said in a September 26, 2011 statement.

"I'm equally thrilled to be working alongside people I respect as much as I do Erik Judson and John Moores, and the advisors on our JMI Sports team."

Tagged for traveling on the taxpayers' tab to see his Mississippi mistress, Schemmel had departed his SDSU job after being paid a $116,000 settlement fee and other deal sweeteners. He later exited JMI to found his own sports management venture, College Sports Solutions.

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Comments

Visduh June 4, 2019 @ 7:54 p.m.

If anyone didn't see this, or something very like it, coming he/she should have. It wasn't a matter of who would take it over, but of when and how and to what degree the public and taxpayers would take a huge hit. This new SDSU president could have stopped it, or so I think, and didn't. Her history of shady activity and double-dealing while at UC Davis are an indication of what can be expected from her. Embracing this deal is totally in character for her, and also many of those at CSU headquarters. Bend over and grab your ankles, San Diego taxpayers.

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AlexClarke June 5, 2019 @ 7:20 a.m.

This kind of crap is why I moved from San Diego. The corruption is so rampant and obvious that no one sees it. Money talks and taxpayers walk. Maybe Rader should sue to stop this "deal" like he does to prevent City employees from having decent wages and retirements.

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Cassander June 5, 2019 @ 11:01 a.m.

The only thing they're honest about is being collaborators.

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[email protected] June 5, 2019 @ 5:08 p.m.

I wonder where all of you "protectors of the the taxpayers" were when the city gifted prime La Jolla property to UCSD all the years ago. the crying and moaning that would accompany such a give-away would be deafening in 2019. How about turning low rent East Village into a thriving urban center surrounding Petco Park? The do nothing complainers never seem to run out of issues to throw shade on. How about stepping back and appreciating those who are willing to invest their own money into something that benefits us all. It is estimated that SDSU generates something like 2 billion dollars per year in positive economic impact on San Diego and an expansion of just 10,000 additional students (in the West Campus) would double that. I, for one welcome the bold expansion of a parking lot into a thriving modern university campus, not to mention the well deserved home for Aztec football that has done nothing but entertain us all for over 100 years and will never take off for greener pastures because they are a local treasure born and raised here in our town.

None

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AlexClarke June 6, 2019 @ 7:36 a.m.

I have no doubt that there were people who were against the UCSD La Jolla land give-a-way but in San Diego the taxpayers have little control as money talks. I have no problem with expanding the SDSU campus but considering the slime that are involved I wonder how much this will cost the taxpayers.

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swell June 5, 2019 @ 7:10 p.m.

"…home for Aztec football that has done nothing but entertain us all for over 100 years and will never take off for greener pastures because they are a local treasure born and raised here in our town. "

I know nothing of this team, though I was a student there. "born & raised here"? It's my understanding that scouts travel the country and beyond looking for college players. No distance too far to travel, no money too much to bribe for hot new football talent. Are you implying that these players are San Diego natives? And the coaches and the money manipulators—all from San Diego? And the money they bring in- does that stay in San Diego? Pardon me if I doubt that ANY of these people are San Diegans. You may be loyal to them for whatever reason, but they have no reason to be loyal to you or to San Diego. They are loyal to the almighty dollar.

I'm happy for you that you were entertained, but I think that an educational institution has more important things to do.

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CaptainObvious June 6, 2019 @ 6:40 a.m.

Shut up and drink the kool-aid. Your master's know what's best. Trust them

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mlaiuppa June 10, 2019 @ 9 p.m.

This is why I voted against it. I knew it was going to happen. I said it was going t happen. I was poo-poo'd and pish-toshed and told I was paranoid.

Well...TOLD YOU SO!

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