Stadium task force explains advantages of Mission Valley

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SAN DIEGO -- San Diego's football stadium advisory group formally announced Thursday it has chosen Mission Valley as the site for the proposed $1.049 billion stadium, but now has to come up with a way to pay for it.

The decision to build a new stadium for the Chargers, San Diego State, the two college bowl games and various special events at the site of Qualcomm Stadium was reached at a meeting Tuesday night. Citizens Stadium Advisory Group Chairman Adam Day said the board had met with dozens of individuals and groups, including SDSU and the convention center, hoteliers, developers, labor groups and representatives from the Chargers.

“Our committee has come to a swift and unanimous conclusion,'' Day said. “The only site to be considered is right here in Mission Valley -- the home of a National Football League franchise and hundreds of other events for the past 50 years.''

Day said relocating the team to downtown would be more expensive, would take longer and would be “far more complicated.'' The team was open to building in Mission Valley, which was expected to save about $250 million and would protect the team and fans from years of uncertainty, he said.

Former Chargers linebacker Shawne Merriman said today's announcement was a step in the right direction to keep the team from having to share a stadium with the Raiders.

“We all want the same thing, we all have one common goal and that's to make one thing happen -- for the San Diego Chargers to remain the San Diego Chargers,'' Merriman said.

Siting the new stadium was expected to be the easier of the two decisions the task force needed to make. The alternative was a location east of Petco Park that wouldn't have been available for at least five years because it's the site of a bus maintenance yard.

Much harder will be the group's other task, which is coming up with a way to pay for construction of a facility that will cost more than $1 billion just for the stadium itself, and not including expenses like the demolition of Qualcomm Stadium, according to a report to the mayor's office from consultant Rider Levett Buchnall.

The group -- made up of real estate, land use and financial experts -- is said to be considering a variety of monetary sources that can be packaged together. The financing plan is expected to be announced in mid-May.

“We're focused like a laser 100 percent on developing a financing plan in the next month-and-a-half,'' Day said.

He said nothing was off the table and the committee would look into all options, but would ultimately come up with a plan that would work for everybody -- and would not require a two-thirds vote, he said.

The consultant report found that a joint-use facility -- a football stadium in the East Village that could double as a convention center overflow area -- would cost $1.365 billion.

Mark Fabiani, the Chargers special counsel on stadium issues, declined to comment.

Faulconer issued a statement thanking the committee for moving so quickly to select a site.

“The Mission Valley site has been home to the Chargers for nearly 50 years and I know we can make it work for decades to come,'' Faulconer said. “Now that they've recommended a site, I look forward to the group continuing to move expeditiously on developing a fair and responsible financing plan for a new stadium.''

Councilman Scott Sherman, who represents Mission Valley, applauded the decision.

“The Citizens Stadium Advisory Group has gone through the data, reviewed numerous detailed plans, received input from experts and came to the only reasonable conclusion,'' Sherman said. “The Mission Valley site is the best option for Chargers fans, the City, and most importantly the taxpayers.''

Todd Gloria, the councilman for downtown, said investing in his district “is always a smart move,'' but he would support keeping the stadium in Mission Valley if that's what it takes to keep the Chargers in San Diego.

Chargers executives said last month that they're looking at jointly building a stadium with the Oakland Raiders in the Los Angeles suburb of Carson, in case the two teams can't get new homes in their respective cities.

Backers of the proposed 72,000-seat stadium near the San Diego (405) Freeway in Carson will begin a petition drive today in hopes of expediting the project by putting it on the ballot or getting immediate approval from the City Council.

With enough petition signatures, the project will go directly to the Carson City Council, which can either approve the project outright or place the issue on the ballot. The initiative process allows the project to avoid lengthy and expensive environmental reviews.

The group needs to collect 8,041 valid signatures from registered voters in the city to get the project before the council.

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