Plan to move Chargers to downtown stadium presses on
After months of changing plans and continued negotiations, the Chargers are coming closer to a decision on the location for a new stadium. Proposals have been made for Chula Vista, Escondido, and even further north – in LA or Orange County.
Chargers Special Counsel to the President Mark Fabiani held an open forum May 19, 2010 to discuss the latest developments in the project. Fabiani made it very clear that Dean Spanos wants to keep the Chargers right here in San Diego. The City of Industry is a plausible option, but there is one obvious problem – developers won’t build until a team commits to moving.
Downtown is a site of tremendous interest for one big reason: the infrastructure is already there. This could dramatically reduce cost. “The parking, the roads, the freeway access, the trolley — it’s all downtown,” explained Fabiani.
The city council will vote June 22 to approve or reject a study that would examine the fiscal effects of a new stadium downtown. The claim is that a new stadium will positively impact retail, business and housing in the area, thus sparking the local economy. The opposing side argues that the proposed budget for the $800 million downtown stadium is simply too steep in the current economic situation.
Fabiani explains, “The best argument for a new stadium has nothing to do with football, really. The best argument for a new stadium is that the City of San Diego has 166 acres of land, centrally located, that is occupied by a mostly empty stadium and parking lot.” The empty space generates little revenue for the city, and the old stadium has become a financial burden on taxpayers, he also explained.
The proposed downtown location is a 10 acre site is near 17th Street and Imperial Avenue, in the heart of downtown. Fabiani explained that projects in downtown areas such as Staples Center in Los Angeles or the Gaslamp Quarter and Petco Park in San Diego wouldn’t exist without funds allocated for downtown development.
Government support of big projects is key, he added. “We have a good, open line of communication with Mayor Sanders, City Attorney Goldsmith, and other top San Diego City officials.”
If one thing is clear from the discussion yesterday, the Chargers and stadium planners are working on it. “There are only so many sites. There are only so many options. And at some point, you run out of options. We’re closer to the end of the process than we are to the beginning, but we’re hoping that the downtown site is going to work out for us.”
*Photo from SD Dirk via Flickr