Subsidy proponent pledges big to SDSU sports building

"No better entertainment in San Diego" than university’s basketball, says Kings vice chairman

Artist's rendering of basketball training center
  • Artist's rendering of basketball training center

A chief backer of an elaborate new "basketball performance center" at San Diego State University — approved last month by state university trustees — is a partner in the Sacramento Kings.

The professional basketball team is currently waging a court battle to keep a $258 million taxpayer subsidy for a new arena from going to a vote of the people.

Jeff Jacobs, an heir to the Qualcomm fortune who (with brothers Paul and Hal) is a member of the Kings partnership, has pledged $1.1 million toward construction of a new SDSU basketball training facility. According to an announcement on the university’s website, the total cost will be $14.5 million.

“There is no better entertainment in San Diego than a sold out and rocking Viejas Arena," Jacobs is quoted as saying, "especially as a dominant West Coast power and a growing prominent player on the national men's basketball landscape."

Jacobs is a vice chairman of the Kings, a title also held by his brothers.

Adds the university's news release: "Two full-length courts, eight baskets, locker rooms, film rooms, team lounges, athletic training room and coaches locker rooms will enhance the Aztec Men’s and Women’s championship basketball programs."

Financing details of the elaborate project, including the amount of university funding, have not been released. "The project will be primarily donor funded, and augmented with campus contributions from non-state resources if needed," according to the agenda of last month's board of trustees meeting in Long Beach.

As previously reported here, Jacobs, his brothers, and the other Kings partners, led by San Francisco Bay Area high-tech billionaire Vivek Ranadive, have stumbled into a hornets' nest of opposition from Sacramento residents who want to see the question of the costly arena subsidy put to a public vote.

Opponents say they have sufficient signatures to force the measure onto the ballot, but the three Jacobs brothers and their allies have funded a political action committee and gone to court to fight the public ballot efforts.

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This Jacobs, like the rest of the family, is filthy rich. Regardless of his links to pro sports, he is the sort of local benefactor that universities look to for money, and lots of it. This gift is totally appropriate, and we can hope that the Jacobs clan will keep making big donations to all sorts of things locally. Further we can hope that they cool it on politics, and get back to the arts, education, cultural groups, and caring for the needy. We don't need them trying to buy a mayor, or anyone else, for that matter.

Hmmm. Somehow I can't see KPBS reporting on anything even remotely negative to The Jacobs Agenda(s). (Their interview with Nathan and his mother toward end of the mayoral primary was one of the worst decisions I've ever seen in local media - well, right after the VOSD publishing Nathan's latest self-serving piece about the Mountaintop. And the only reason Nathan continues to float around the local press is his connection to Jacobs.) It's all good, as long as it comes with money, I'm sure they're thinking. But it's not all good. Even giving to "arts" and "education" can be bad, if it's a bad idea, or a self-serving idea. Their Balboa Park disaster (the bridge, etc.) was probably in collaboration with arts groups in the park. And other arts groups stayed quiet, worried about future monies. I don't think all philanthropy is good. Only when its smart.

Personally, I regarded that Balboa Park "makeover" as a political move, especially in light of the way it was presented. If Jacobs couldn't get his package adopted without modification it was off. He didn't get his way and it ended--at least for the time being. You're totally correct in that KPBS will never, ever criticize that family, or Qualcomm, Inc, or anything they like. The money has bought off one of the local news media, and would like to buy off more. But since Jacobs and Manchester are poles apart party-wise, the old man can't dictate to the U-T.

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