Thirty-two cities across the country have professional football teams. Each of those cities has gone through the very difficult task of building a new stadium.
The Chargers’ search for a new stadium in San Diego has been well documented. The team’s efforts the past 15 years or so have been met with a number of roadblocks — either political, financial, and/or geographical. Getting any kind of consensus from the city has been a very difficult proposition.
With that as a backdrop, and after pursuing a relocation to Carson for more than a year, the Chargers have come back to San Diego to focus their efforts downtown.
The Chargers Initiative is one of three plans that have been in the public purview for about a year. Let’s look at the similarities and the differences of what’s been put forward.
Mayor Kevin Faulconer’s plan focuses on Mission Valley. The mayor directed the city council to authorize a $2.1 million EIR for a new stadium and development at the Qualcomm site. He also, in working with County Supervisor Ron Roberts, was prepared to give $350 million of taxpayer dollars for the efforts. The team decided they did not want to focus their energies and efforts on a Mission Valley solution.
Attorney Cory Briggs and City Councilmember Donna Frye put together a plan that offers no public money for a Chargers stadium. The plan does create a path for the Chargers to build a stadium downtown by layering the East Village as an entertainment/sports complex. It raises the Transient Occupancy Tax 5 cents to 15.5%. That money would go directly into the city’s General Fund. The biggest highlight of the plan is what it reimagines for the Qualcomm stadium site. It calls for a River Park campus expansion opportunity. The plan would protect and preserve park land and sell off the parcels at fair market value to SDSU, UCSD, or any community college.
The Chargers Initiative says nothing about the Mission Valley site focusing solely on downtown. It calls for a 6-cent increase to the Transient Occupancy Tax to 16.5%. This increase will also pay for a new tourism marketing program for the City of San Diego, which is part of the overall, integrated plan. The Chargers Initiative requires the pro team to contribute $650 million and agree to a 30-year lease with the City of San Diego. Under the terms of the Citizens’ Initiative, the project cannot be constructed until those conditions are satisfied.
Neither the Chargers Initiative nor the Citizens’ Plan for Tourism Reform takes any money out of the General Fund. However, each relies on tourism-generated revenues. The Chargers appear to favor this approach over the mayor’s proposal to spend local taxpayer dollars on a stadium. No doubt not because they wouldn’t be willing to take the money, but because they doubt the ability of the politicians to convince the public to support spending local taxpayer money.
This should come as no surprise since the NFL has followed the model of attempting to identify ways to fund facilities through a combination of team and visitor-generated revenues.