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Thursday, May 27, 2010

The New Home of the San Diego Chargers?




Will the proposed downtown stadium site be the last chance for the Chargers to stay in San Diego? Chargers spokesman Mark Fabiani believes that it is.

The San Diego Stadium Coalition held a town hall meeting Wednesday in order for the public to address specific concerns to Fabiani. "The San Diego Chargers have done everything possible to get a stadium deal done," said Fabiani.


The proposed ten acre site sits adjacent to Petco Park, and will be much less expensive to build than any other site because of the existing infrastructure, Fabiani said. The new plan is estimated to cost nearly $200 million less than the sites which were proposed in Escondido, Chula Vista, and Oceanside. There is also a plan to attach a retractable roof to the new stadium, which will allow for events to take place there year round. "It costs the city $17 million per year to operate Qualcomm stadium," said Fabiani. "And it sits vacant for much of the year not earning any revenue from tenants." The proposed plan will possibly serve as a venue for sports and events that take place in the San Diego Sports Arena, which, as Fabiani also pointed out, sits vacant for much of the year as well.

In addition to being the 'greenest' building in the world, the new stadium will be built with fewer seats than Qualcomm, which will guarantee sellouts for each game. This will eliminate the possibility of television blackouts. Some of the land at the proposed site will have to acquired, but a large portion of it sits atop the current Petco Park tailgate parking area. "The transit yards there will also have to be relocated and cleaned up," said Fabiani.

But not everyone is happy about the proposed stadium. Unlike the previous plan that involved the development around the Qualcomm site in Mission Valley, the area around the downtown site is not quite large enough for private development, which would have helped to fund the stadium. Because of this, some taxpayer dollars will be needed to finance it. In a tough economy, and within a city that has had severe financial difficulties, some citizens find the proposal a tough pill to swallow. "My concern is all of the traffic and the crowds that it will bring," said Martin Balfour. Balfour, 62, is a resident of the East Village, and lives just blocks from the proposed site. "I'm also not convinced that the taxpayers should have to help pay for it," adds Balfour. "The city is already in financial trouble, they're cutting police jobs, firemen, teachers. Should a new football stadium be our priority? I don't feel that it should be."

Many San Diegans are very excited at the prospect of a new stadium. "I think that it's a great thing for the city of San Diego," said 42 year-old Matthew Seller of Little Italy. "A new stadium will be a huge money-maker for the city with super bowls and the crowds that it will draw. Even if taxpayers have to chip in, it seems like a good return on our money. I see it as an investment."

Before the stadium plans can move forward, there is a critical study that must be commissioned by the Centre City Development Corporation, or CCDC. The San Diego City Council will vote on the proposal to increase the spending cap of the CCDC on June 22. The study is estimated to cost the city $500,000. Fabiani stressed the importance of this study, calling it a 'last chance' for the stadium plan, and possibly for the Chargers future in San Diego.






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