The East Village new stadium project for the Chargers and the Convention Center expansion have been two separate projects.
Now, the Chargers want to combine them.
The Chargers have asked their architectural team to design a stadium proposal that would also include convention space, all in hopes of not only garnering support for a new stadium adjacent to Petco Park, but to also tap into the proposed revenue streams that would help expand the San Diego Convention Center.
The Chargers’ pitch to local officials and San Diego taxpayers: instead of building a $800 million stadium and expanding the Convention Center at the cost of $550 million, combine the two and save some cash.
“If we could do two facilities as one and save money, that’s important,” Chargers special counsel Mark Fabiani told the Union-Tribune. “If we’re talking about hundreds of millions of dollars from the Chargers and the NFL, if we’re talking about access to other revenue sources that might be available for a convention-type facility, then we’re talking about actually a financial package that could work.”
And while the Chargers will spin this as a cost-saving plan, on the surface, it looks like a money-grabbing proposal.
The Chargers are hoping to tap into a proposed increase in hotel taxes, downtown food and beverage sales and taxi cab fares in order to help fund their new stadium.
However, with the Convention Center and the stadium currently set up as two separate projects, the Chargers are not able to tap into those funds, since those are billed specifically for the Convention Center expansion.
The plan is to for a new stadium to be converted into convention space when the Chargers are not playing. The end zones would be used as meeting rooms and the middle of the field would be covered as needed in order to create exhibit space.
The new stadium would also include more meeting rooms throughout the concourses.
It seems like a plan that puts to use good synergy, but most see what the Chargers are intending.
“It’s not going to have any synergy with our convention center expansion,” Convention Center Corporation board member Steve Cushman told the UT. “They’re not going to take our money. I don’t know what they’re talking about.”
Convention Center proponents have publicly rejected any plans to combine its expansion with the building of a new stadium downtown.
The main reason is that most Convention Center proponents would like to see the space as contiguous. The new Chargers stadium would be on the site of the old MTS bus yard, which is not only several blocks away from the Convention Center site, but convention goers would have to cross rail lines to get to.
Even mayor Jerry Sanders wants to keep both projects separate.
“(San Diego) has the ability to proceed with the current plans to expand the convention center and build a new multi-use stadium,” Sanders told the San Diego Business Journal. “Both will generate thousands of jobs and enhance our economy. I’m working with regional leaders to develop these two projects in a way that makes sense for taxpayers.”
The plan may be a last ditch effort for the Chargers to stay in San Diego.
After almost 10 years of searching and multiple proposed locations, the Chargers have zeroed in on downtown San Diego.
If the Chargers aren’t able to get a deal done to build a new stadium, they might look elsewhere, possibly north to another downtown location in Los Angeles.
“If we get totally shut down here…we’ll obviously reassess where we are,” Fabiani told the UT. “Obviously, I hope that doesn’t happen.”
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