Chargers Initiative Gets Green Light For November

San Diego-The San Diego Chargers stadium ballot initiative has secured enough valid signatures to appear on the November ballot.

The initiative would raise local hotel taxes for a downtown stadium and convention facility. San Diego City Clerk Liz Maland made the announcement Saturday afternoon.

Chargers chairman Dean Spanos expressed his appreciation to those who signed the petitions. “The entire Chargers organization is grateful to all of those who helped qualify our initiative for the November 2016 ballot,” he said. “We gathered more than 110,000 signatures in less than six weeks, an extraordinary result that demonstrates the high level of community interest in a new multi-use stadium and convention center facility downtown.”

The initiative would raise the city’s tax on hotel stays from 12.5 percent to 16.5 percent to finance a $1.8 billion stadium and convention center in downtown’s East Village, next to Petco Park. The Chargers would contribute $650 million for the stadium portion of the project. $300 million comes from the NFL, $350 million from the team. Additionally funds would come from other private sources, licensing payments and sales of “stadium-builder” ticket options to fans.

Many prominent local Republicans have come out against the proposal, and polls this spring showed weak support. Although some of questioned the viability of the recent poll, saying it was a political tool rather than an honest look at support for the project. A coalition of opponents that includes politicians, business organizations and neighborhood groups has vowed to defeat the initiative. “We’re opposed to the Chargers tax measure because it’s a bad deal for San Diego,” said City Councilman Chris Cate, a member of the coalition “No Downtown Stadium – Jobs and Streets First!” Cate told the San Diego Union-Tribune that such a tax increase should contribute revenue for other priorities and that higher hotel taxes could damage local tourism.

Mayor Kevin Faulconer, a Republican, has raised many questions about the initiative, but hasn’t yet taken a position. During election season, Faulconer promised he would have an annoucement regarding the Chargers Inititaive in mid-July.

Supporters say the initiative would provide San Diego a long-needed expansion of convention space just a few blocks from the existing waterfront convention center. The Chargers are proposing a total of 260,000 square feet of exhibit space, of which 100,000 square feet would be on the stadium floor adjoining the proposed convention center.

A separate proposal to raise hotel taxes to build a downtown convention center annex and possibly a connected stadium may also appear on the November ballot. City officials are scheduled to announce Tuesday whether supporters of that proposal, known as the Citizens’ Plan, gathered enough valid signatures. The 66,447 threshold is 10 percent of the city’s registered voters during the last general election.

IVN San Diego looked at the issues with the way the county currently counts signatures, finding the method is much different than the way Los Angeles and San Francisco.