Chargers respond to mayor’s stadium concerns

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Seating Bowl - Roof Open (Credit: MANICA Architecture)

SAN DIEGO — The San Diego Chargers have assured Mayor Kevin Faulconer that their plan to fund a new stadium via a ballot initiative will not involve the city’s general fund, according to a 33-page letter sent late Friday and signed by team Chairman Dean Spanos.

The letter was in response to one sent by Faulconer to the team earlier in April enumerating various concerns, chief among them the amount of money taxpayers would be asked to pay for the combination stadium-convention center annex.

“The initiative would not impose any obligation on the City to pay for operations and maintenance and capital costs for the Convention Center Expansion and Stadium out of the General Fund,” the letter stated, with many of the words highlighted in bold.

The letter also said that any cost overruns would be incurred by the team, not taxpayers. The letter took much of its language from the initiative.

The Chargers need almost 67,000 valid signatures to qualify the initiative for the November general election ballot. If passed, it would raise the city of San Diego’s hotel room tax to 16.5 percent to pay for construction of a $1.8 billion stadium and convention center annex.

The tax is currently 10.5 percent, with an additional 2 percent fee that pays for tourism promotion, making the increase effectively 4 percent. The initiative would require two-thirds voter approval because of the tax hike.

The Chargers have pledged to chip in $350 million of their own money and use a $300 million loan from the NFL.

The Chargers have been asking for a replacement to Qualcomm Stadium for about 15 years. In January, NFL owners rejected their plans to build a playing facility in Carson jointly with the Oakland Raiders, after which Spanos announced he would give San Diego another try.

Spanos said he has an agreement in place to have the Chargers become the second team in a future Inglewood stadium, with the Los Angeles Rams, if the San Diego effort falls through.