SAN DIEGO — Interim Mayor Todd Gloria and San Diego Convention Center Corp. President and CEO Carol Wallace today reiterated their support for the current plan to expand the convention center, despite a new pitch by the Chargers to include a football stadium in the project.
The $520 million plan, which goes before the California Coastal Commission for approval next month, would create a total area of 2.75 million square feet — the most contiguous floor space on the West Coast.
Supporters of the project, including Gloria and Wallace, say San Diego is missing out on an estimated 25 major gatherings per year because it needs more connected space.
The alternative filed with the Coastal Commission by the Chargers would not include contiguous floor space, which team officials do not believe to be necessary.
“The current plan…is the product of years of study, analysis and public debate,” Gloria told reporters. “It is the end result of countless hours of thought and consideration.”
He said the plan is critical to keeping Comic-Con International, the largest annual trade show in San Diego.
The Chargers have been pursuing a new facility for a decade to replace aging Qualcomm Stadium, but have been unable to come up with a workable site. The quest was delayed for years by the city’s poor financial condition and the recession.
The Chargers’ point man on stadium issues, Mark Fabiani, said on the team’s website that the city would save hundreds of millions of dollars on a joint facility that would result in an expanded convention center and new stadium.
Gloria said his goal was to get the convention center expansion past its final regulatory hurdles before turning his attention to the stadium issue. He said both projects can be pursued and that he is committed to keeping the Chargers in San Diego.
“I want to be clear, the Chargers are an important part of our community — professional sports is a hallmark of a great city — we are a great city,” Gloria said.
“I want to work with the Chargers to keep them here, but I want to do it in a way that is as thoughtful a process that we went through with the convention center expansion, and one that can allow me to go to the people in the city to explain what we’re getting with that investment,” he said.
Gloria said he met with Fabiani in March, but the team’s plan was conceptual at that point.
In a statement released to the media, Wallace said, “We believe this is the right project to expand the convention center and build on our 23 years of success driving visitors to our region and tax revenues to the city of San Diego and Port of San Diego which provides funding for parks, police, fire and libraries in every community.”
She said the design would be environmentally friendly, with a public plaza and five-acre rooftop park, and not be a “big box” design like Fabiani contends.