Stadium ballot arguments focus on jobs, tourism, city priorities

Proposed Downtown Chargers Stadium

SAN DIEGO — The Chargers’ plan to build a downtown stadium and convention center annex would create thousands of new jobs and result in “a world-class events center,” or it would damage San Diego’s tourism industry, according to ballot measure arguments released Friday by the city of San Diego.

The plan to finance construction and operations of the facility near Petco Park will go before voters in November as Measure C.

Because, if passed, it would raise hotel room taxes from 10.5 percent, plus a 2 percent tourism marketing fee, to 16.5 percent, voter approval is required.

Arguments for and against the dozen measures that will be considered by city voters were turned in to city elections officials Thursday and made public today.

The case in favor of Measure C was essentially a series of bullet points written by, among others, San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Jerry Sanders and Rep. Juan Vargas, D-San Diego.

Among their arguments:

  • “it will be a multi-use facility that will serve as an expanded convention center, a stadium for the Chargers and a world-class events center;”
  • “it will also be a spectacular site for America’s national holiday: The Super Bowl;”
  • “residents of the city of San Diego who don’t stay in a hotel room in the city will not pay for the development or operation of this facility;”
  • “the measure plans for a new public governing structure or Joint Powers Authority to oversee the design, construction, operation and maintenance of the new facility and manage the hotel taxes and the bonds to complete the development;” and
  • “the facility will create 17,000 jobs during its construction. In addition, between the Chargers’ operations and other events at the facility 3,000 permanent jobs will be created in San Diego.”

Also signing the pro-Measure C argument were former City Council candidate Carol Kim, Nicholas Segura of the San Diego Building & Construction Trades Council and John Thomson, a retired deputy fire chief.

Some of those against the ballot measure were Councilmen David Alvarez and Chris Cate, along with Haney Hong, president and CEO of the San Diego County Taxpayers Association.

They pointed out that the stadium plan by the Chargers is opposed by organizers of Comic-Con International, which would prefer an expansion of the current convention center. The stadium/annex project would not preclude contiguous expansion, but observers believe it would be far less likely.

“When we lose conventions, tourism declines,” they wrote. “When tourism declines, we lose jobs, our economy suffers and tax revenues the city relies on for street repairs and other services fall.”

The listed opponents, also including Julie Meier Wright, retired CEO of San Diego Regional Economic Development Corp., and retired Vice Adm. Peter Hekman, called the plan “a massive tax increase” that should be spent on repairing streets, hiring 911 dispatchers and fully funding after-school programs.

“The city has more important priorities,” they wrote.

Opponents also reiterated findings of recent reports that said the financing plan could put the city’s general fund — which pays for basic services like public safety and recreation centers — at risk and said there are no provisions for parking or traffic improvements for already congested downtown.