SAN DIEGO — Hundreds of Chargers fans gathered at Qualcomm Stadium Monday night to let an advisory group formed to find a location for a new stadium and come up with a plan to finance it know how they think its members should proceed.
The meeting came after a raucous month in which the Chargers revealed plans to build a stadium jointly with the Oakland Raiders in the Los Angeles suburb of Carson — in case their hopes for new playing facilities in their home cities don’t bear fruit — and questioned the independence of the task force appointed by Mayor Kevin Faulconer.
Faulconer tasked his advisory group — which includes experts in development, real estate and finance — with choosing between a cramped downtown site east of Petco Park and the current Qualcomm Stadium location.
Adam Day, chairman of the Citizens’ Stadium Advisory Group, said plans for a new field had been considered for years amid recession, plummeting real estate values and the city’s pension crisis, but a viable plan had yet to come about.
“Its effectiveness, efficiency and ability to continue into the future are constrained at best, and extremely expensive at worst,” he said.
But the committee was “focused like a laser on solving this problem,” he said. They listened to hours of testimony from fans whose suggestions for financing the $1.7 billion stadium included selling preferred seat licenses; getting a bridge loan from the County of San Diego; selling stock; upping taxes on hotel rooms, flights, gas and rental cars; selling naming rights and paving stones; crowd funding campaigns; and getting the team’s owners, area businesses and public entities to chip in.
A few suggested that the stadium project could be combined with the planned convention center expansion, although that would require the team to move from their current site in Mission Valley to downtown.
Several fans pleaded for the stadium to remain in Mission Valley, but said the venue could host other events like soccer games and concerts.
“Mission Valley is really the only answer because you can leverage the real estate, and downtown has already been developed,” musician and radio host Sean Peck said.
Others said they did not care whether the team moved downtown — as long as they stayed in San Diego.
“You can put it in my backyard as long as we don’t have to share it with the Raiders,” said David Agranoff, vice president of the Save Our Bolts group.
Longtime season ticket holder Rafael Alvarez echoed Faulconer’s plea to find an affordable solution for the city.
“This is about San Diego — yes the Chargers are part of the dialog, but this is about America’s Finest City,” he said.
Faulconer recently accused the Chargers of betraying their fans in San Diego by advancing the Carson plans, but special counsel Mark Fabiani said the team had to protect its business interests now that the owner of the St. Louis Rams is planning to build a stadium in nearby Inglewood.
The Chargers have since promised to work cooperatively with the task force, which moved up its deadline to issue a plan from this fall to three months — which would be in mid-May.
The mayor has stressed that a new stadium would not be solely for the Chargers, but would also accommodate San Diego State University, the Holiday and Poinsettia bowls, and other events. However, problems with both his proposed locations were revealed last week.
Paul Jablonski, the president and CEO of the Metropolitan Transit System, said in a letter to task force Chairman Adam Day that it could take five years or more to vacate the downtown site, where the agency operates a bus maintenance yard. No suitable locations for moving the yard have been found and one site that could have worked has since been occupied by the Monarch School, which educates homeless children, according to the MTS.
Regarding a stadium as part of a major redevelopment of the Mission Valley location, the Chargers have said that construction would take too long for enough revenue to be generated to benefit the team and financing plan. Fabiani said more building at that location could also raise the ire of area residents and raise environmental concerns.
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