Jeremy Ogul | Editor
A group of advisers appointed by Mayor Kevin Faulconer announced their conclusion in mid-March that the city’s Qualcomm Stadium property is the best place to build a new stadium.
Since January, the Citizens’ Stadium Advisory Group has been interviewing experts and key leaders in an effort to come up with a plan that would keep the Spanos family from moving the Chargers to another city. Faulconer asked the advisory group to resolve two issues: the best location for a new stadium and the best way to finance it.
“Each site has its pros and cons, but for several reasons the Mission Valley location is the best choice for a multi-use stadium,” said Adam Day, chair of the Citizens’ Stadium Advisory Group. “For starters, building on this site saves the city approximately $250 million, and it protects the city, the Chargers and the fans from years of uncertainty.”
Unlike the Metropolitan Transit System bus maintenance yard in Downtown San Diego, Day and others suggest the development process in Mission Valley would be more straightforward because the city already controls the land.
“I can’t stress this point enough: The Mission Valley site gives the city its best chance at getting a multi-use stadium up and running before the end of this decade,” said Jim Steeg, a former Chargers vice president and NFL executive.
Advisory group member Mary Lydon, who is also the executive director of the Urban Land Institute San Diego/Tijuana, said the Mission Valley site presents opportunities that would not be possible Downtown.
“From a land-use perspective, the Mission Valley site presents excellent opportunities for smart growth, transit-oriented development and thoughtful density,” Lydon said.
In addition to hosting a new stadium, the 166-acres site could be redeveloped into a spacious riverfront park and a walkable community of homes, shops and restaurants, Lydon said.
Councilmember Scott Sherman, whose district includes Mission Valley, said he was pleased with the group’s decision, calling it “the only reasonable conclusion” in a written statement released after the announcement. In an op-ed published in U-T San Diego in February, Sherman said redeveloping the equivalent of 66 city blocks at the current stadium site could be “a catalyst for economic growth by creating thousands of local jobs, providing desperately needed housing and expanding the tax base.”
At the advisory group’s public town hall meeting in early March, fan after fan said they wanted the Chargers to stay in Mission Valley because that’s the only place where tailgating is possible.
“Don’t take the tailgate away from us, because it’s part of our game day experience,” one speaker said.
The advisory group has not yet resolved the question of how to pay for a new stadium, but Day, the group’s chair, told reporters at a recent briefing that the group would not propose any financing plan that would require the approval of two-thirds of voters. The overwhelming majority of analysts and observers following the issue believe that winning two-thirds of the vote would be nearly impossible, especially when one considers that the question may have to share the ballot with several other proposed big-ticket expenditures, such as a possible bond to pay for the city’s multibillion-dollar backlog of repairs and upgrades to roads, sidewalks, sewer and stormwater systems.
Because the group’s meetings are held privately, little else is known about their ideas for how to pay for a new stadium.
Fans at the public forum proposed a variety of funding methods, from a Kickstarter-style escrow accounts to a tax on tickets to paid tours of the facility.
The advisory group plans to announce its final recommendations, including a financing proposal, by mid-May.
—Reach Jeremy Ogul by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.