For the Chargers’ drive to build a San Diego downtown stadium, Saturday was truly a signature moment. The team held a rally on Saturday morning in the East Village area where they hope a new 65,000-seat stadium and accompanying convention center will rise up after a signature drive.
The event kicked off the signature drive to gain public approval about the team’s plan to raise $1.15 billion in revenue for the project through a 6-percent hike in the area’s hotel tax.
“Once we win this – I assure you, there’s going to be a stadium right where we’re standing here,” Chargers owner Dean Spanos told the crowd of approximately 4,000. “It’s going to be something San Diego will be proud of for years to come.”
But to get their initiative on the ballot in November, the team needs roughly 67,000 signatures to their petition, and Saturday marked the first day the Chargers were eligible to begin that portion of their campaign. To that end, the team held what amounted to a star-studded Super Bowl tailgate, attended by approximately 4,000 fans, with current and former Chargers stars Philip Rivers and LaDanian Tomlinson joining Spanos and, in a major show of support for the Chargers’ plan, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, who has committed $300 million to the $1.8 billion project, Saturday that a new stadium in San Diego would signify a return of the Super Bowl to the area.
“This is just the beginning. We all salute Dean Spanos’ decision to stay with and make it work with the Chargers in San Diego,” Goodell said. “I said it. I mean it. The Chargers do belong here in San Diego … the perfect place for the Super Bowl.”
Saturday’s rally comes on the heels of the first release of drawings rendering the proposed stadium and convention center, paid for by Citizens for Sports, Entertainment and Tourism, with major funding by Chargers Football Company, LLC.
The renderings, and the San Diego downtown stadium proposal in general, have received mixed reviews in San Diego, particularly from candidates for office in November who will appear with either the Chargers or a competing Citizens’ Plan proposal on the same ballot.
But it was all partisan Chargers on Saturday.
“San Dieeeegoooooo!” Tomlinson began as he addressed the crowd. “Fifty-five years the Chargers have been in this community, which happens to be the late Junior Seau’s number, 55. If Junior was here, you know where he would be, he would be sitting right here, probably going from each door in the community to get your vote.”
Other speakers on Saturday included Congressmen Scott Peters, Darrell Issa and Juan Vargas.
Not in attendance was San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer, who remains non-committal about the Chargers’ plan, beyond praising the drawings.
Renderings courtesy San Diego Chargers and Manica Architecture.
RELATED STORIES: Preliminary Chargers Stadium Design Renderings Released; City Attorney Criticizes Citizens’ Plan; Chargers Meeting With Citizens’ Plan Advocates; Convadium Facing Local Scrutiny; Chargers Begin Stadium Initiative; Chargers Pitch “Convadium”