SBD/Issue 63/Facilities & Venues

Chargers Admit New Stadium Likely Will Require Taxpayer Money

Chargers Special Counsel Says New Stadium
Will Almost Certainly Involve Taxpayer Money
The Chargers for nearly seven years "have said they would build a new stadium without taxpayer money," but now they are "calling an audible," according to Matthew Hall of the SAN DIEGO UNION-TRIBUNE. Chargers Special Counsel Mark Fabiani Thursday, addressing a forum of the San Diego North Chamber of Commerce, said, "It's almost certainly going to involve some sort of taxpayer money." The shift is "significant for the team, which has continually expressed a desire to finance stadium construction privately and acknowledged via Fabiani the difficulty of getting public support for any kind of taxpayer subsidy." San Diego Mayor Jerry Sanders "has long said he would oppose using public funds toward construction of a new stadium but has stayed quiet on the topic lately." After Sanders last month "made construction of a new stadium a priority," his spokesperson said that the Mayor's Office is "looking at all ways that cities have helped with stadium construction, including borrowing money against future redevelopment revenues downtown." Chargers Exec VP & COO Jim Steeg also addressed the forum Thursday, and part of his presentation "dealt with the shortcomings of Qualcomm Stadium." Fabiani then "updated the crowd of 40 to 50 people on early efforts by the city and team to evaluate a potential site east of Petco Park." Because it is "in the downtown redevelopment area, officials would be allowed to borrow money against future property taxes to help finance a stadium."

SPACE ISSUE: Fabiani said that a stadium "could be built downtown for" $700-800M, and Hall notes earlier plans had the Chargers and NFL "contributing $200[M] apiece to a stadium, and the gap bridged by revenue from nearby ancillary development, such as hotels, condominiums and retail." But the team is "dismissing that concept because of the poor economy and the small size of the downtown site." Plans call for a 62,000-seat stadium that "could be expanded to 72,000 seats to accommodate Super Bowls," but the stadium "would abut the street, with little room for other development." Centre City Development Corp. Chair Fred Maas, whose group is the city's downtown redevelopment arm, Thursday said that it is "premature to talk specifics but that any successful plan to redevelop the site -- for a stadium or anything else -- should involve public money" (SAN DIEGO UNION-TRIBUNE, 12/11). Meanwhile, Fabiani said that the Chargers want to "put any stadium measure onto a public ballot." Fabiani: "We believe it is important for everyone to understand that the downtown site might require some sort of taxpayer subsidy" (AP, 12/10).

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