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Downtown San Diego Chargers stadium site too complicated?

San Diego ChargersIt could take seven years for a regional bus authority to move operations from a proposed downtown San Diego Chargers stadium site — a delay Chargers officials say could doom the location.

The Chargers had pitched a downtown site near Petco Park at 16th Street and Imperial Avenue currently used by the San Diego Metropolitan Transit System for bus storage. Makes sense: there’s sizzle (the Gaslamp Quarter is just on the other side of the ballpark) and infrastructure (I-5 runs to the east, while there’s parking for Petco Park).

But MTS officials say it could take up to seven years to relocate the bus station, and given that it will take three years to build a stadium after financing is arranged, it could be until 2025 before a new downtown San Diego Chargers stadium opens.

Which is unacceptable to Chargers counsel Mark Fabiani, who calls the site “academic” because of all the issues. From the San Diego Union-Tribune:

Fabiani said the team has been in touch with MTS over the years and is aware of its concerns.

“Our analysis of the site, performed by a well known national construction and engineering firm, was not nearly so pessimistic,” he said.

But the Chargers plan envisions a joint stadium-convention complex and that has met with little support from hoteliers, who want the existing convention center expanded contiguously.

Not a surprise: the existing convention center is within a stone’s throw of the stadium, and any business drawn in by a new Chargers stadium/convention center could come from the existing convention center.

If the downtown site is doomed, everyone is back to square one with the Mission Valley site, either upgrading Qualcomm Stadium or building a new stadium at the site. It won’t have the economic impact a downtown stadium would — but with a potential Carson move looming on the horizon, some sort of stadium plan will be needed to keep the Chargers.

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August Publications