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Competing Ideas Clash in San Diego

Preliminary Chargers Stadium Design

The idea of building of a joint stadium/convention center for the San Diego Chargers has drawn plenty of scrutiny, which was evident on Wednesday. 

The Chargers are pushing for the public share of the $1.8 billion project to be covered by an increase in the hotel tax from 12.5% to 16.5%, a proposal that will be up for vote on Election Day. As the Chargers’ campaign has played out, two prominent and competing studies have emerged–one commissioned by the Chargers that projects a positive economic benefit from the stadium/convention center, and another from the hotelier-run Tourism Marketing District that criticizes the plan.

Using findings from a report it commissioned to HVS, the Tourism Marketing District contended that the proposed tax increase for the stadium could not be justified base on future economic activity. It also expressed concerns that tying the convention center to the stadium–rather than expanding the existing convention center, as many in the industry have pushed for–would complicate scheduling and provide limited space to accommodate events as they grow.

In a counter to these arguments, the team released a report from Hunden Strategic Partners. That report found that the stadium/convention center would attract about 900,000 new visitors annually, and generate enough revenue to justify the tax increase.

Both studies have received significant attention throughout this debate, and were discussed publicly on Wednesday as part of an event sponsored by Point Loma Nazarene University. The Times of San Diego provides some details:

“There’s a line of folks going down the block that want to be in San Diego,” said Rob Hunden, president of Hunden Strategic Partners, which is working for the Chargers.

“Fundamentally what we found is a mismatch,” said Tom Hazinski, managing partner of HVS’ convention, sports and entertainment practice, which studied the plan for the hotel industry. “Event planners — your customers — don’t like the Chargers’ plan.”

The two studies’ estimates of the impact are wildly different. The Chargers side estimates 225,000 additional room nights annually, versus 90,000 for the hotel industry side.

Hazinski was joined on the panel by Joe Terzi, president of the San Diego Tourism Authority.

“Rob is speaking about a destination that I haven’t heard of,” Terzi said, calling the Chargers’ plan “a facility customers don’t want.”

Unless the State Supreme Court opts to affirm a previous appellate court ruling between now and November, the Chargers’ proposal will require two-thirds approval from voters. The team has an option from the NFL to move to Los Angeles if it does not secure a new stadium in San Diego.

RELATED STORIES: Is Los Angeles the Chargers Only Backup Plan? Former GM: Chargers Will Stay in San Diego; Chargers, Opponents Lobby FaulconerDespite Study, Fans Tepid About Chargers Stadium Study Criticizes San Diego Chargers Stadium Proposal;  Local Chamber Backs Chargers’ StadiumChargers’ Stadium Proposal Faces Uphill Battle

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August Publications