A move to East Village would allow the San Diego Chargers to set up shop in close proximity to the San Diego Padres’ Petco Park. While the Padres say that they want to keep the Chargers in town, the team’s leadership is expressing some angst about that proposal.
As far as Padres chairman Ron Fowler is concerned, the stadium/convention center the Chargers are proposing would create some logistical complications. For starters, the facility would be built on a roughly 1,000-space parking lot that is currently leased by the Padres, which not only takes some parking away from the team but, as Fowler contends, would also create traffic issues when a Padres’ home game overlaps with a convention.
Another issue is signage. A component of the team’s agreement at Petco Park prevents the Padres from displaying advertising on the exterior of the ballpark. The Chargers, however, have it written into their initiative that billboards will be allowed on the outside of the stadium.
In an exclusive interview with Voice of San Diego, Fowler said that while he wants to keep the Chargers in town, he would like to see some of these concerns addressed, and expressed that sentiment to local business leaders. More from Voice of San Diego:
After the meeting between the teams ended with the “trust us” from the Chargers, the Padres had a decision to make. Padres CEO Mike Dee is on the board of directors of the San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce, which was about to vote on whether to endorse the Chargers’ ballot initiative. The initiative would raise the hotel-room tax and fund the convadium right next to Petco Park.
Fowler met with Jerry Sanders, CEO of the Chamber. I had heard Fowler asked Sanders not to let the endorsement happen.
That’s not true, Fowler told me. In fact, he said, he knew the Chamber would endorse the initiative because of the close relationship Sanders has with Chargers special advisor Fred Maas.
“I asked him ‘Do you think these issues are sufficiently addressed by the Chargers?” Fowler said of his meeting with Sanders. He said Sanders told him that supporting the Chargers now was the best way to assure the team stays in San Diego.
When the Chargers received the endorsement of the chamber of commerce, it was a fairly notable accomplishment. It was by far the largest group to back the proposal, and chamber’s support–which was announced last week–came at a time where the Chargers had faced some scrutiny from other groups.
One of the chamber’s contingencies for supporting the proposal was that the Chargers replaced the aforementioned parking spaces. Though there has been some discussion about where the spaces could be built, with an underground structure mentioned as one of the possibilities, Fowler says that the Padres want a little more assurance. When the time came for the chamber’s vote, Padres CEO Mike Dee ultimately abstained.
A scenario in which the Padres come out against the stadium seems unlikely. Yet, the Chargers have some work to do to secure the team’s unquestioned approval between now and November.