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Downtown business group backs Prop. C to finance new Chargers stadium

Proposed Downtown Chargers Stadium

SAN DIEGO — The Downtown San Diego Partnership, which represents downtown organizations and property owners, Friday endorsed Measure C, which would provide a framework for building a Chargers football stadium and convention center annex.

The partnership joined the San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce in backing the initiative on the Nov. 8 ballot.

“This is no rush to judgment,” said Frank Urtasun, the partnership’s board chairman.

“The partnership held three public forums, 13 meetings and met with 26 individuals representing 14 organizations,” said Urtasun, regional vice president ofr San Diego Gas & Electric. “From those meetings, we came up with a considered set of conditions that the Chargers have agreed to resolve. That’s why over 75 percent of our board supported this position.”

Measure C, if approved by two-thirds of voters, would raise San Diego’s hotel room tax to help pay for the project, which has an estimated price tag of $1.8 billion.

The levy is currently 10.5 percent, with a separate 2 percent fee that funds tourism marketing. Measure C would raise the tax to a total of 16.5 percent.

The Chargers and National Football League would kick in a combined $650 million toward the project. Team officials said the combined facility would not only result in a state-of-the-art football stadium, but space that could be used for around 300 days a year.

Kris Michell, the partnership’s president and CEO, said her coalition has a long history of supporting “large iconic projects and a sports and entertainment district downtown,” and believes the Chargers’ project is representative of both.

“Vibrant downtowns attract young, talented entrepreneurs, international visitors and business professionals alike,” Michell said. “A joint-use football stadium and convention center facility will put San Diego on the world stage and contribute to the year-round vibrancy enjoyed by world-class urban centers.”

Tony Manolatos, a spokesman for Measure C opponents, pointed out that Councilmen David Alvarez, Chris Cate and Scott Sherman, plus Councilman-elect Chris Ward, are all against the initiative.

“Measure C is a bad deal for San Diego,” Manolatos said. “It would divert more than $1 billion in new taxes to a stadium project and subsidize a NFL franchise worth more than $2 billion. Anyone who says it’s a good deal for San Diego is more interested in politics than good public policy.”

Mayor Kevin Faulconer has not stated a position on Measure C.