The San Diego Chargers‘ stadium/convention center proposal has received a key booster in the form of the San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce.
In order to get the hotel tax increase needed–from 12.5% to 16.5%–to support the project, the Chargers need to win the approval of San Diego voters via a November referendum. As they try to mount their case, the endorsement of the chamber gives them a potential outlet for support.
The idea of a business group backing a project of this kind would not always stand out, but the statement made by the San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce marks a milestone for the Chargers. To this point, the Chargers have received little backing among large community groups, making the chamber by far its biggest booster.
Mayor Kevin Faulkner has still not offered his opinion on the project. In another key issue, the hotel industry has not yet come around on the Chargers’ proposal, most likely because it prefers a competing plan to expand the current convention center.
While the chamber was enthusiastic in its support of the project, it came with some contingencies, which were presented by president Jerry Sanders. More from the San Diego Union-Tribune:
Reach out to the community to identify needed infrastructure improvements, such as freeway, transit and road improvements;
Ensure that the final financing plan guarantees the present 2 percent hotel tax going to the Tourism Marketing District remains “whole”;
Schedule games around other major large events in the city — a matter dealt with by the NFL’s recent commitment to free up certain days of the month for non-game-day activities;
Replace the roughly 1,200 parking spaces at Tailgate Park, which would be redeveloped for the project — the Chargers’ conceptual plan calls for building that many spaces beneath the stadium;
Protect the city’s general fund from making up any shortfall in paying back about $1 billion in bonds from the hotel tax.
Sanders said the chamber remains committed to a contiguous expansion of the present convention center.
“However, with that route indefinitely stalled in litigation and without any identifiable funding source, it’s simply not a viable option right now,” he said. “We see the Chargers’ initiative as a new opportunity to continue moving forward while keeping the option open for contiguous expansion.”
The last few weeks have not been easy for the Chargers’ proposal. Pending a State Supreme Court ruling, the referendum may require the approval of a two-thirds majority to move forward. The recent arrival of the annual Comic-Con International also generated some backlash towards the proposal, as event organizers are known to not support the stadium/convention center concept.