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New Chargers Stadium

Aerial View

  Venue Particulars  
Chula Vista, CA
Official Website
Chargers Gear
  Venue Resources  
Hotels, Dining & Deals in San Diego

  The Facility  
Date Opened Future
City of San Diego
(City of San Diego)
Surface Grass
Cost of Construction $400 million
  Other Facts  
Tenants San Diego Chargers
(NFL) (Future)
San Diego State Aztecs
(NCAA) (Future)
Population Base 2,000,000
On Site Parking Unknown
Nearest Airport San Diego International Airport (SAN)
Retired Numbers #14 Dan Fouts
#19 Lance Alworth

Capacity Unknown
Luxury Suites Unknown
Club Seats Unknown
  Attendance History  
Season  Total  Capacity Change
1993 475,578 83% 26.6%
1994 479,842 84% 0.9%
1995 469,575 82% -2.1%
1996 470,355 82% 0.2%
1997 465,906 82% -0.9%
1998 476,718 84% 2%
1999 476,999 84% 0.06%
2000 433,459 76.3% -9.1%

2001 2002 2003 2004
474,844 494,973 492,165 485,462

2005 2006 2007 2008
529,916 531,031 524,019 545,107

2009 2010 2011 2012
540,345 524,241 523,143 479,716

2013 2014 2015 2016
513,641 523,457 534,180 456,197

1993-Present Attendance figures are for Qualcomm Stadium.

Sources: Mediaventures

Chargers seek public's views as next step toward new home
November 26, 2007
By Ronald W. Powell

CHULA VISTA - The Chargers' search for a new home in the county is nearing crunch time.

The team has been looking for a stadium site in the county since May 2006 and has narrowed the search to two locations in Chula Vista.

Team executives said they want to make a decision by the end of December. If they don't choose a Chula Vista site, it is unclear what the Chargers' next move would be.

Mark Fabiani, the team's general counsel and chief spokesman on the stadium issue, said neither team owner Alex Spanos nor team president Dean Spanos has talked about looking outside the county for a stadium site. The team remains optimistic that one of the Chula Vista sites will work, Fabiani said.

The team began its quest for a new stadium in 2002 with a proposal to redevelop San Diego's 166-acre Qualcomm Stadium property - a plan that featured 6,000 condominiums, a park, offices, a hotel, retail and restaurants, as well as $175 million in road improvements. Team officials jettisoned the idea in January 2006, saying city officials weren't supportive and that they could not find a development partner to share the financial burden.

"We've been at this for almost six years, and the Spanoses have shown their commitment to getting something done (in the county)," Fabiani said.

The Chargers estimate a stadium development could cost $1 billion. Chula Vista residents will have a chance to express opinions about a stadium at a town hall meeting Wednesday.

Fabiani said information from the public will factor into which Chula Vista site is selected. Then studies will be conducted to determine how it will be paid for and what the costs and economic benefits would be for the city.

The two sites under consideration are a vacant, 500-acre property east of state Route 125 and about a half-mile south of the Windingwalk at Otay Ranch neighborhood, and the 139-acre bayfront property that is home to the South Bay Power Plant.

The eastern property has no mass transit access and already is plagued by traffic congestion, while the bayfront site has greater access but a power plant that may be needed for years.

Chula Vista officials stress that no public money will be spent on stadium studies, and that they are looking for a deal that is good for taxpayers.

"We won't move forward on the stadium unless it is a net positive for the city of Chula Vista," said Councilman John McCann.

If city officials and the Chargers choose the eastern site, the proposal would be put to a public vote next November. If they select the bayfront site, Fabiani said a vote would take place after the fate of the power plant would be known.

Chargers seek split on tab for stadium
By Norberto Santana Jr.


January 16, 2003

The San Diego Chargers want taxpayers to pay half the cost of a $400 million stadium that would be built on the current 166-acre Qualcomm Stadium site.

The team envisions using 100 acres of the site, which would consist of a 25-acre stadium surrounded by parking and open space. Under the plan, the city would find a developer to purchase or lease the remaining 66 acres, which would feature an urban village with a mix of retail shops, housing and a 300-room hotel.

Mark Fabiani, special counsel to Chargers President Dean Spanos, released limited details of the project to reporters late yesterday afternoon. He provided renderings of the development plan, but no written proposal.

Fabiani and team consultants are expected to make a presentation on the proposal at tonight's San Ysidro meeting of the Citizens' Task Force on Chargers Issues, a City Council-appointed panel.

Fabiani declined to give specifics yesterday on the financing or land-use plans, but he described the team's proposal as "meant to inspire community debate and discussion."

Under the proposal, the city would continue to own the 100 acres used for the new stadium and surroundings and the team would sign a 25-to 30-year lease, with the rent to be negotiated, Fabiani said.

He said he expects the public contribution would likely be paid for by a public bond that would last for 20 to 25 years. Fabiani said one possibility would be for the city to sell the 66 acres for $100 million and use the proceeds to secure the bond.

Council members reached last night greeted the proposal with skepticism.

Councilwoman Donna Frye, whose district includes Qualcomm Stadium, said, "When we are facing a $100 million deficit (in the city), facing layoffs and cuts in basic public services, given those financial realities, to say their timing is poor is likely the understatement of the century."

Councilman Michael Zucchet, elected in November, said getting the city to sponsor any kind of public bond for the stadium is a "total nonstarter."

"It's such a joke. The Chargers have a contract (for the current stadium). They can honor it or initiate litigation. I don't really care," he said.

Mayor Dick Murphy declined to comment, saying through a spokeswoman that he will wait for the task force to make a recommendation.

Fabiani said he understands the city's financial situation, which is why the team is proposing a plan that pays for itself. He said commercial development of the 66 acres would "net well in excess of the public's investment."

"This is brand-new revenue not currently flowing to the city," Fabiani said, noting that the current Qualcomm site costs millions of dollars to operate annually.

Fabiani said the Chargers and the NFL would pay $200 million for the new stadium, with the NFL's contribution likely to be a loan to the team.

The city's Chargers task force has spent six months analyzing redevelopment plans for the stadium site.

Task force Chairman David Watson, a land-use attorney and former city planning commissioner, said some panel members have developed "serious questions about whether a redevelopment plan can pay for itself."

"They have to balance land-use planning, work with environmental constraints and mitigation measures and financial requirements," Watson said. "This is a real challenge, and I'm interested to see how they deal with it."

He said tonight's meeting could "determine the future of the National Football League in San Diego."

The Chargers want to ask voters in November 2004 to approve a ballot measure that would pay for a new stadium. Fabiani acknowledged the time is short to accomplish that.

City leaders first would have to negotiate with the team on its current lease, which runs through 2020, and then almost immediately begin a public planning process on the Chargers' proposal. That would include public hearings and environmental reviews, followed by a council vote.

Then the matter could go before voters.

"All of that goes on simultaneously," Fabiani said.

It is possible to meet those tight deadlines, Fabiani said, "but it's going to take a tremendous amount of work."

The last time San Diego voters were asked to finance a stadium was for the Padres' ballpark in 1998. Nearly 60 percent of voters approved Proposition C, a $411 million public-private partnership to create the ballpark district.

With delays caused by court cases and political scandal, the price has risen to $458 million. The city's share is $206 million, most of which was raised through a bond sale last year.

The Padres are putting in $157 million, some of which is revenue from an as-yet-unsigned naming-rights deal for the East Village ballpark. The team also agreed to arrange for new office, retail and hotel development in the area immediately surrounding the ballpark.

The Centre City Development Corp., the city's downtown redevelopment arm, contributed $74 million. The San Diego Unified Port District will fund $21 million in infrastructure improvements.

Staff writers Jonathan Heller and David Washburn contributed to this report.

Chargers' vision of future

By David Neville,

01.16.03 - When the Chargers started work on their initial proposal for a renovation of the Qualcomm Stadium site in Mission Valley, they knew they were faced with an enormous challenge as well as a promising opportunity.

The challenge: to work together with the City of San Diego to find a sensible plan for the Qualcomm Stadium site – a plan that benefits the entire City of San Diego. From a fan-enjoyment standpoint, Qualcomm Stadium is an outdated dual-use facility built in the 1960’s which simply can’t compare with state-of-the art sports venues in other cities. But the team also realized from the start that a proposal which benefited just football fans would not win public support.

The opportunity: to find a way to get the best use out of the badly-underutilized 166-acre site where Qualcomm Stadium now stands. Currently, the site drains roughly $6-9 million a year from the City of San Diego treasury. Once the Padres move to their new ballpark, the site will be used less than 20 times a year for professional and college football. The rest of the year, the stadium and the adjoining huge parking lot will sit mostly idle.

“This is not just about the Chargers, or the Super Bowl; it’s about all San Diegans and the future of this city,” said Mark Fabiani, Special Counsel to the Chargers. “That’s why we’ve initiated what we hope is going to be a very public process to explore this opportunity.”

After retaining the best stadium finance, design and marketing experts in the country, and after spending months meeting with community groups and civic leaders, the Chargers believe that America’s Finest City can do better than to have a 35-year-old stadium drain millions of dollars from City coffers each year.

Instead, the Chargers believe that a sensible re-design of the site would benefit all San Diegans, including taxpayers who now subsidize the site: businesses that value the economic boost created by the Super Bowl and professional football; residents who crave more open green space, and families searching for affordable housing.

“The existing site is a potentially significant community asset that isn’t being used very well,” said Fabiani. “We believe the entire community of San Diego would benefit from an intelligent redesign on the site.”

Of course, a modern stadium would also provide fans with the ultimate live football experience, with the secondary benefit of ensuring that San Diego would stay in the rotation for the world’s premier sporting event: the Super Bowl.

The Chargers’ vision includes a $400 million stadium that would use roughly 100 acres of the site, leaving nearly 66 acres available for commercial development that would create new revenues for the City and offset the public’s investment in the site.

There are countless development options for the site, ranging from park land to a mixed use urban village. Under the Chargers’ proposal, San Diegans will have the opportunity to choose which option creates the right balance for the Mission Valley community, whether it’s affordable housing, retail outlets, more green space or a combination of all of them.

The Chargers also understand that they will need to have a significant financial stake in a new stadium. That’s why the team is prepared to pay 50 percent of the costs of constructing the stadium, equating to approximately $200 million dollars, putting  significantly less financial burden on the City than other NFL cities have borne when building new stadiums.

Just as importantly, there will be no ticket guarantee or other financial protection of any kind for the team. The Chargers will assume the financial risk of failing to sell the team’s products and performances in a new stadium. Basically, the team would make a substantial investment in a new stadium on the belief that the Chargers can remain successful in San Diego.

“If we’re wrong about our ability to market the team, then we’ll be the only ones who bear the financial risk,” said Fabiani.

The Chargers’ don’t see this proposal as final in any way. In fact, just the opposite; it’s a starting point for the community…a way to open up public discussion on which of these ideas work or don’t work, while soliciting the public’s involvement in the process.

“We’re talking about public land, and it’s only right that the public will ultimately decide how to proceed,” said Fabiani. “We fully expect this proposal will eventually be put before the entire community for a vote, where the people will decide what is in San Diego’s best interests.

“We’ve presented these ideas in the spirit of open community discussion, and we hope these ideas for the site provide a useful starting point for such a debate.”

Let the discussion begin.

October 30, 2008
Copyright 2008 MediaVentures

San Diego, Calif. - Building a 96-acre deck over a downtown San Diego marine cargo terminal would take an engineering marvel that experts say is both tricky and expensive - possibly costing as much as $800 million.

"Anything is possible with enough imagination and enough money," said Chris Kamp, a San Diego structural engineer with the firm SDSE.

The 40-foot-tall concrete deck over the 10th Avenue Marine Terminal is the most provocative aspect of Proposition B on the Nov. 4 ballot.

The developers who initiated the proposition have declined to reveal details about how the deck would be constructed, saying they do not want to share that information with rivals. But reports say it could support and a new stadium and arena.

CH2M Hill, an international engineering firm, did studies for the proponents, concluding that the deck idea is doable.

But the Colorado-based company says it is no longer working for the developers and wrote in a letter to a San Diego port official, "We have directed them not to use our name at all." The Unified Port District of San Diego, which administers the state tidelands that contain the marine terminal, opposes Proposition B, saying it would hurt port operations.

It's not specified in the ballot language, but the developers behind the ballot measure suggest the deck could support a football stadium, an aquarium, a hotel, a sports and entertainment arena, parking or a new cruise ship terminal. Any option would be built with private money, proponents say.

Structural engineer Anthony Court said the deck's foundation would be more than twice the size of the footprint of the nearby San Diego Convention Center. Dealing with the soft soils would complicate foundation work, and the platform would require a massive bracing effort against earthquakes, Court said.

Developer and Proposition B initiator Frank Gallagher said CH2M Hill estimated the cost at $606 million.

With such an expensive price tag, Port District officials, waterfront business owners and other opponents say they doubt the deck will ever be built.

They believe it is a smoke screen to divert attention from a little-known part of Proposition B that allows developers to build on the terminal, which is now dominated by warehouses, jet fuel storage tanks, silos, offices and a large moveable crane for off-loading cargo.

But Gallagher said his group is committed to the deck, which he says could become as iconic on San Diego Bay as the sail-shaped Sydney Opera House on the Australian city's harbor.

If Proposition B passes, he said it will require at least two years of planning - including a development proposal for the top of the deck - before a plan is brought forward for review by the Port Commission and state agencies, including the California Coastal Commission. (San Diego Union Tribune)

November 6, 2008
Copyright 2008 MediaVentures

A plan to build a 40-foot-tall deck over a San Diego marine cargo terminal was defeated by voters by a wide margin. Proposition B would have amended the San Diego Unified Port District's master plan to allow construction of the platform over the port's 96-acre 10th Avenue Marine Terminal. The initiative was paid for by two developers who ran a low-budget campaign to convince voters in the Port District's five cities - San Diego, National City, Chula Vista, Imperial Beach and Coronado - that the deck could support a sports arena, a hotel, an aquarium or other uses, including a football stadium for the Chargers. The team stayed on the sidelines during the campaign, but its executives said they would explore the deck plan if voters approved it. (San Diego Union Tribune)

November 13, 2008
Copyright 2008 MediaVentures

San Diego, Calif. - The Chargers and their new stadium issues are stuck between a rock and hard times. They're now trying to walk down a street of broken American dreams to find a suitable home. And all those foreclosure signs they're seeing along the way tell them this isn't how it was when they first came up with the idea.

The possibility of a Chula Vista bayfront site for a stadium remains on hold. A few things must happen for there to be any progress, and the city isn't exactly doing cartwheels through greenbacks. Chula Vista is the foreclosure capital of San Diego County.

And last, but far from least, is the current worldwide economic crisis. Trying to get a new stadium built in this area, never was going to be easy. Now, constructing one anywhere will be even more difficult. Plus, the football team can go wherever it pleases after Feb. 1 if it pays off about $55 million in city debt on the stadium.

"Right now, you couldn't finance it," says Chargers special counsel Mark Fabiani, the franchise's point man on stadium issues the past six years. "It would be impossible. The debt markets are so seized up, it would be impractical; it would not be financially feasible." Even if a site existed and a new stadium was approved, construction couldn't begin anytime soon. Cash flow is constipated, backed up.

But the Chargers aren't about to adjourn. Too much time, effort and money have gone into the project, and if it means they have to ride out this riptide, that's probably what they're going to do.

"If approved, we're looking at years of environmental reviews," Fabiani says. "Because it's California, there's a minimum of two years of environmental and regulatory reviews, which means you're now several years from having a plan you need to finance it.

"You have to know you can finance it and expect the economic climate will improve. If not . . . well, there's nothing now to keep us from working on the project, and we will continue. I talked to Dean (club President Dean Spanos) this morning, and we did not talk finances. We talked Chula Vista, and how we can't allow the financial crisis to affect plans. You can't do that."

"The environmental impact report (on both sites) has been delayed," Chula Vista Mayor Cheryl Cox says, and those EIRs have nothing to do with a stadium. "It could be February. We haven't even looked into the economic impact. We want to do what we can do to keep the Chargers in San Diego County. But a new stadium is upward of $1.2 billion to $1.4 billion now. Who's going to pay for it?

"We need to develop a regional approach with the city of San Diego. There has to be a different way."

The Mike Aguirre Factor? The city attorney soon will be out of office, replaced by Jan Goldsmith, so while there could be some light in the city, it's more like a pinpoint. "With Aguirre in office, it would have been impossible to get something done in the city," Fabiani says. "But it's still difficult, because of the constraints at the Qualcomm Stadium site. Our original proposal in 2005 was $450 million (for stadium and housing construction) and $200 million for infrastructure improvements. The cost of the project has doubled, at least. "The only thing that hasn't changed is the size of the land, 166 acres. The proposal we made doesn't work economically anymore. It's very difficult, with or without Aguirre."

The Chargers have between Feb. 1 and April 30 to inform City Hall if they will move, and it will remain that way annually until the lease expires after the 2019 season. (San Diego Union Tribune)

November 20, 2008
Copyright 2008 MediaVentures

Chula Vista, Calif. - The decision by Gaylord Entertainment to abandon plans for a new hotel and convention center in Chula Vista means a new potential stadium site is available for the San Diego Chargers.

"The good news is that there is a large parcel on the bayfront that's now vacant," said Mark Fabiani, general counsel for the team. "We'd look at that with open minds."

The Chargers have been exploring the possibility of building a stadium on land now occupied by a power plant south of the Gaylord site - but it is unclear when the facility will be closed. "If it is something the city and the Port District want us to look at, we'd take a look at it," Fabiani said. "The city had always made it clear to us - particularly Mayor Cox - that Gaylord was the No. 1 priority and that it had to be resolved before our project could move forward." Chula Vista and the Port of San Diego learned this week that Gaylord Entertainment dropped plans for a 32-acre resort.

In separate meetings with the Port District and the city, Gaylord Senior Vice President Bennett Westbrook said the regulatory and financial hurdles were deal-breakers.

The project had been held out as the bayfront savior that would bring jobs, tourism and cash to Chula Vista, the port and Gaylord, based in Nashville, Tenn.

"I'm really disappointed," said Mayor Cheryl Cox, who added that she had no idea Gaylord planned to pull out. "There is no doubt in my mind that Gaylord's decision is final." The company was dealing with at least nine regulatory agencies, including the California Coastal Commission and the State Lands Commission.

In addition, as the first developer of the waterfront, Gaylord would have been responsible for $308 million in roads and other public works to serve its hotel and convention center. "We have been unable to overcome perhaps the biggest hurdle of the project - funding the enormous infrastructure costs associated with the bayfront redevelopment in a manner that will generate adequate financial returns for Gaylord, the port and the city," Westbrook said in the letter.

Gaylord pulling out of Chula Vista could help accelerate efforts to expand the San Diego Convention Center, he said.

Initially, convention center officials were concerned that Gaylord's plan would bleed business from San Diego and cut into the city's hotel-tax revenue.

They later decided there would be a market for smaller events and that they could "own the West" if they marketed with Gaylord, said Steven Johnson, convention center vice president for public affairs. (San Diego Union Tribune)

February 26, 2009
Copyright 2009 MediaVentures

San Diego, Calif. - The idea of having two stadiums in one area has been done before in places like Pittsburgh and Baltimore.

Now, it could possibly happen in San Diego.

Plans are being discussed for a football stadium between Petco Park and 16th Street in San Diego's East Village.

Although the San Diego Chargers are interested in building a stadium in the area, there are no immediate plans.

"There is a lot more talk about it around town than before, probably because land values have gone down," said Chargers' Special Counsel Mark Fabiani.

The team would also piggyback off the infrastructure already in place for Petco Park.

"You wouldn't have to build any roads, freeways, trolley stops, parking; it's all there," said Fabiani.

Fabiani said the location and amenities could cut construction costs by roughly $300 million, but the team would still need to find 30 acres in this crowded area.

"It's going to be hard to find 30 acres that you can afford and that you can acquire without displacing people," said Fabiani.

Some nearby buildings are already empty, like an old Wonder Bread building built in 1884.

"We hear talk about it. People have given us ideas about it. We've looked at them. But at this time I think it's premature to say that's a realistic option," said Fabiani.

Fabiani told a group of developers and business people in La Jolla this week that the Chargers are still focused on two sites in Chula Vista, including the bayfront power plant.

But Fabiani did admit the East Village was interesting.

"It's certainly something we have on our radar, no doubt about it," said Fabiani. (KGTV)

June 4, 2009
Copyright 2009 MediaVentures

San Diego, Calif. - San Diego and the Chargers have panned a proposal from developer Perry Dealy to build a 70,000-seat stadium, 16-story hotel and thousands of condominiums and apartments adjacent to Qualcomm Stadium.

Dealy asked city officials to form a task force to study the plan, but later withdrew his proposal.

In a fax sent to Dealy, the Chargers said they do not support the proposal or believe it "has a realistic chance of being implemented" because of its "extraordinary density."

Dealy said the billion-dollar project could be funded with $566 million through land sales, $302 million from borrowing against new tax revenues from the development, $200 million apiece from the Chargers and the National Football League and potentially another $100 million from San Diego State University.

It's estimated a new stadium would cost $700 million and infrastructure improvement another $300 million. Dealy said the whole project hinges on the area being designated a redevelopment zone.

The Chargers dismissed such a financing vehicle several years ago as legally and politically untenable, but Dealy said a contaminated plume of water under the stadium site clears the way for redevelopment designation.

Dealy said without that designation - which would direct tax revenue to the project and away from other government jurisdictions - the concept crumbles.

August 20, 2009
Copyright 2009 MediaVentures

San Diego, Calif. - The Chargers are continuing their search for a workable site to build a new stadium in the San Diego area, but say their biggest challenge now is the economy. That means any new proposal isn't expected for many months.

Officials and developers in other cities, including San Antonio, Las Vegas and Los Angeles, have shown interest in landing the Chargers, but team officials say the search remains locally focused.

The team began asking for a new stadium in 2002, saying Qualcomm Stadium, now 42 years old, created too little revenue for the team to stay competitive. The team initially considered building a new stadium on the current 166-acre site in Mission Valley, but contends the bad economy and building bust made that impossible. It started searching for a new site in 2006. In May, developer Perry Dealy and a group of local business leaders suggested keeping the Chargers at the site by building a hotel, condominiums and commercial space alongside a new stadium. Lacking support from the Chargers or Mayor Jerry Sanders' office, the idea quickly faded.

More recently, the team has willingly been excluded from early discussions between the Mayor's Office and San Diego State University to use some of the Qualcomm Stadium site for student and faculty housing, research facilities and a park.

The Chargers' lease expires in 2020 and gives the team from Feb. 1 to May 1 every year to notify the city of an intent to move. The team's cost to break its lease is $54.6 million next year but the amount falls to $25.8 million in 2011, which has led to speculation that if the team departs, it would do so in two years.

Suitors outside San Diego County have stepped forward.

In years past, the mayors of Las Vegas and San Antonio - smaller markets without NFL teams - have expressed interest in the Chargers, and Los Angeles developer Ed Roski is pushing to build a stadium in nearby City of Industry.

There is talk of luring one or even two NFL teams - from Jacksonville, Buffalo, Minnesota, St. Louis, Oakland, San Francisco or San Diego - to that stadium.

September 24, 2009
Copyright 2009 MediaVentures

San Diego, Calif. - Oceanside and Escondido are reportedly working together on a plan to build a new stadium for the San Diego Chargers and use revenue from a new mixed-use development to help pay for the venue.

The proposed plan would see Oceanside host the stadium while Escondido would build the mixed-use development to aid in the funding.

The Chargers are reviewing the plan and say it holds promise.

October 1, 2009
Copyright 2009 MediaVentures

San Diego, Calif. - The San Diego Chargers met this week with developers who are interested in a plan that would see a new stadium built for the team in Escondido while development in another adjacent city would help fund construction.

The leading Escondido site is the decaying industrial zone north of Highway 78 and east of Interstate 15 that could be combined with adjacent vacant and underused parcels.

Team officials said they were open to a multi-city effort, with one community building a stadium and another providing land and other incentives for the ancillary development. Under such an arrangement, the team would share revenues with the developer and both cities.

The ancillary development is crucial to any stadium proposal because the National Football League team says it needs revenues from that development to close a nearly $400 million gap in the funding it needs for the$900 million stadium.

Dave Ferguson, an Escondido attorney spearheading the city's effort to land the Chargers, said at least three developers have expressed interest in providing the capital for the ancillary development.

Another incentive for cities would be the team's plans to relocate its 15-acre, 200,000-square-foot training facility somewhere in North County if a stadium is built in the region, team officials said.

The Chargers have spent the last several years trying to leave outdated Qualcomm Stadium in Mission Valley for a modern facility. They ruled out rebuilding on the Qualcomm site three years ago when San Diego officials rejected a team proposal to use 60 acres of the parking lot for condominiums, a hotel, offices and shops.

October 8, 2009
Copyright 2009 MediaVentures

The Holiday Bowl, the Poinsettia Bowl and the San Diego State Aztecs could follow the San Diego Chargers into a new stadium if the NFL team is successful in building a new venue. The executive director of the two bowl games said he would expect both to be played in Escondido if a modern stadium is built there. A move to Escondido would force San Diego State students to drive to games instead of taking the San Diego Trolley two stops from the university campus to Qualcomm Stadium. Athletic director Jeff Schemmel said that hurdle would not prevent the Aztecs from following the Chargers to the north.

October 29, 2009
Copyright 2009 MediaVentures

San Diego, Calif. - A new poll shows 56 percent of San Diego residents believe the Chargers will remain in the area. With 34 percent saying the team may not remain at Qualcomm Stadium, 28 percent say the team could leave the county.

The poll of 505 randomly selected adults was conducted by San Diego-based Competitive Edge Research & Communication, a firm that has worked for news organizations and political candidates such as Mayor Jerry Sanders. The poll has a 4.4 percent margin of error.

John Nienstedt, the firm's president who has done polls for 22 years, said this one was conducted for curiosity and community service, with no client and no preconceived notions.

Chargers special counsel Mark Fabiani, head of the team's stadium site search since 2002, said the results were consistent with what he has heard at a string of public meetings over the years. He called it "pretty remarkable" that more than half of those surveyed believe a solution will be found in San Diego County within five years "after seven years of work without anything to show for it."

November 5, 2009
Copyright 2009 MediaVentures

San Diego, Calif. - Mayor Jerry Sanders and Chargers president Dean Spanos have reportedly begun meetings about building a new stadium in the city. The two are considering several new sites, one of which is near Petco Park.

Mayor Sanders initiated the meeting to continue the dialogue about downtown sites and to ascertain that the team is still serious about staying in San Diego and is willing to work with us on potential sites as they have with other cities in the county.

Team officials say financing still remains the key problem, but a downtown location near the ballpark would reduce the cost of infrastructure.

The new effort by San Diego prompted leaders of five communities near Escondido, where the team has been looking, to bind together in an effort to bring the stadium to their area.

During a special meeting that was closed to the media, officials from Escondido, Oceanside, Carlsbad, Vista and San Marcos discussed how a stadium would benefit North County as a whole and what the hurdles are to such an ambitious project, Escondido Mayor Lori Holt Pfeiler said. One key topic was whether other cities have land along the Sprinter rail line for one or more private developments that would be connected financially to the stadium, Pfeiler said.

Chargers officials say they need as much as $400 million in revenue from such an ancillary private development to help pay for the $900 million stadium. A partner city is necessary because Escondido's economy is not perceived to be large enough to absorb so much new development, whether it be offices, housing, retail or a combination of those.

Pfeiler said that Escondido and San Diego officials have agreed to jointly study the leading Escondido site and two potential stadium sites in downtown San Diego to determine the advantages and disadvantages of all three sites.

November 12, 2009
Copyright 2009 MediaVentures

Escondido, Calif. - With San Diego back in the hunt for a new stadium to host the Chargers, Escondido officials say they're headed to the sidelines.

The perceived viability of a newly proposed stadium site just east of Petco Park in downtown San Diego has persuaded Escondido officials to end several months of negotiations with Chargers officials and private developers who could help finance a stadium, Escondido Mayor Lori Holt Pfeiler said.

But Pfeiler and a local attorney spearheading Escondido's stadium efforts said the city would resume its campaign for a stadium if significant problems arise with the site near Petco.

Pfeiler said the decision to end negotiations was based primarily on two concerns: a strong desire not to compete against San Diego, and concerns about wasting time and money on a proposal that might go nowhere.

Since announcing several years ago that they planned to leave outdated Qualcomm Stadium in Mission Valley for a modern stadium, the Chargers have explored sites in San Diego, Oceanside, Chula Vista, National City and Escondido.

But no proposal has gotten past the discussion stages.

The site near Petco, which includes Tailgate Park and a bus yard, is appealing to the Chargers because the team could use parking structures built for Petco and because virtually all the necessary infrastructure is in place, team officials said, but they are concerned because the footprint is very tight.

In contrast, a stadium in Escondido would require building several parking garages and might require significant upgrades to roads and freeway ramps.

November 19, 2009
Copyright 2009 MediaVentures

San Diego, Calif. - San Diego will hire Mitchell Ziets and Evolution Media Capital LLC to explore ways of financing a new stadium for the Chargers near the Padres' Petro Park. The study would cost $160,000 and take 180 days.

Chargers special counsel Mark Fabiani, the point person for on a stadium site search, called Ziets' hiring significant because of how quickly it happened and because of what the consultant has to do.

"It's what you do on any stadium project," Fabiani said. "You figure out what possible sources of revenue are out there, from the stadium and from other sources. You try to cobble together enough funding to make it work."

Fabiani said a downtown stadium could be built for less than $800 million because parking, freeway access and public transportation already exist in the area.

In the past, he has indicated that the team would be willing to spend $200 million on a stadium and that the NFL might be willing to lend the team an additional $100 million, but that revenue from ancillary development - including offices, retail and condominiums - would play a big part in a place where public subsidies are a tough sell.

The site being contemplated is currently home to a nearly 8-acre bus yard owned by the San Diego Metropolitan Transit System, and privately owned parcels totaling less than 2 acres. An earthquake fault running under the five-acre city-owned Tailgate Park likely makes construction possible only on its eastern edge, Fabiani said.

Team architects visited the site and said building a stadium there would be challenging but possible, Fabiani said.

December 3, 2009
Copyright 2009 MediaVentures

San Diego, Calif. - A site near Petco Field favored for a new Chargers stadium could be eliminated because of environmental contamination resulting from its use as a bus yard.

Leaking underground storage tanks and pipes have periodically discharged diesel fuel, gasoline and oil into the soil and groundwater 10 to 15 feet below the site's surface, nine football fields northeast of San Diego Bay.

The environmental damage at the site, a few blocks east of Petco Park, could require an expensive cleanup that might mean delays for any development. It's unclear who would pay for a remedy that could run into the millions of dollars.

Excessive cleanup costs could lead the Chargers to look elsewhere for a new stadium, said special counsel Mark Fabiani, who has guided the team's search since 2002.

At times, the level of petroleum contaminants and carcinogens such as benzene found during testing has exceeded safety limits, and monitoring continues, according to files at the county Department of Environmental Health.

The Chargers have retained Turner Construction Co. to review several issues at the site, including the contamination. A report could be ready next month.

Fabiani has said site cleanup would probably be part of the stadium project.

After long saying the city wouldn't help the team financially, Mayor Jerry Sanders met with team President Dean Spanos in October. The city's downtown redevelopment arm, the Centre City Development Corp., paid $160,000 to study how to pay for a new downtown stadium.

That review could be done within three or four months.

The site being eyed by the city and team consists of the bus yard, some adjacent private parcels and a portion of city-owned Tailgate Park east of an earthquake fault.

The county opened its investigation of the bus-yard site in May 1986 after four 10,000- to 20,000-gallon underground storage tanks that held diesel fuel failed integrity tests, indicating probable breaches.

The leak was later determined to be in pipes on the site, but nothing was done for years, records show.

In 1993, eight new underground storage tanks were installed to replace a range of older ones.

From 1994 to 1997, 16 other tanks were removed. Some were leaking or had holes, and others were pulled from soil heavily discolored by petroleum products or near contaminated groundwater. In 2006, two additional tanks were drained and left in place.

A note in the file from a 1997 meeting between county officials and the property owners reads, "Health risk is minimal long-term since there is open yard/no buildings."

December 10, 2009
Copyright 2009 MediaVentures

San Diego, Calif. - The San Diego Chargers have reversed their position and believe they will need public help to build a new stadium. The city recently rejoined the effort to build the venue and is looking at a site near Petco Park.

The Chargers had originally hoped to fund the stadium with money from development around the venue, but that goal has proven to be elusive. The new site offers few opportunities for development. The team is looking to the city's downtown redevelopment agency for aid, but says it must find new sources of revenue if it going to give the team the level of help it will need.

State law caps the amount of money that redevelopment agencies can accumulate before they expire. The Centre City Development Corp., the city-run downtown redevelopment agency, expects to have $386 million left in available tax revenues to build new projects downtown, including parks, fire stations, sidewalks and streets. And it already has plans for that money.

A stadium, which could cost between $750 million to $1 billion, is unlikely to fit into downtown redevelopment plans unless the agency can increase the amount of money it can collect.

To raise the cap the city needs the approval of two state departments and tacit support of five local governments, all of which would receive less tax revenue if the deal went through.

One of those local governments is San Diego County and cooperation on redevelopment matters has not been a hallmark of recent city and county history. Four years ago, the county sued after the city declared the Grantville neighborhood near Interstate 8 and Mission Gorge a redevelopment zone. The city ultimately settled for $31.6 million.

Officials from the two governments have met at least once to talk about the potential downtown stadium, but no details have been released.

To change the cap, the city would need to demonstrate that areas downtown remain underutilized and deteriorated, or "blighted," and in need of redevelopment investments. The stadium site would have to be reaffirmed as blighted before new tax revenues could be used there. The state's Department of Finance and Department of Housing and Community Development need to approve the plan.

Perhaps more difficult than getting state approval could be buy in from all the local governments that rely on downtown taxes. The governments don't have veto power over the decision, but can block the process through lawsuits or other legal means.

The logic goes that all governments benefit in the long run because property tax revenues accumulate more than they would have if redevelopment never happened.

Meanwhile, the city and the team have not given up on the idea of private financing. A four-month study is under way by Evolution Media Capital LLC and Michael Zeits, a sports financial consultant, paid for with $160,000 recently approved by the Centre City Development Corp. An interim report on the study's findings is expected in January.

The Chargers have estimated the cost of a downtown stadium at $800 million, or $200 million less than other area sites. That's because there's already freeway access, and enough parking and transit connections in place. It would be smaller than a typical NFL stadium, with 62,000 seats.

December 17, 2009
Copyright 2009 MediaVentures

San Diego, Calif. - A new poll shows that San Diego residents are opposed to using taxpayer money to help build a new stadium for the Chargers. The poll by KGTV was released as the team acknowledged that public money will be needed and city officials ducked questions on the topic.

Seventy-one percent of 500 people who responded said taxpayer dollars should not be used for stadium construction and 26 percent said they should. Another 3 percent were not sure. The automated survey has a margin of error of four percentage points.

The city and the team are looking at a site near Petco Park. Because it's in the downtown redevelopment area, officials would be allowed to borrow money against future property taxes to help finance a stadium.

Team officials said a stadium could be built downtown for $700 million to $800 million. Earlier plans had the Chargers and the National Football League contributing $200 million apiece to a stadium, and the gap bridged by revenue from nearby ancillary development, such as hotels, condominiums and retail.

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. It would abut the street, with little room for other development.

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.

Last month, after Sanders made construction of a new stadium a priority, the spokesman said the Mayor's Office is looking at all ways that cities have helped with stadium construction, including borrowing money against future redevelopment revenues downtown.

Councilman Kevin Faulconer, whose downtown district includes the Chargers' envisioned East Village site, didn't rule out the use of redevelopment money.

The Chargers say they want public officials to make a decision soon because they don't want to spend money vetting the site if they aren't willing to help with funding.

The city's downtown redevelopment arm, the Centre City Development Corp., is paying a consultant $160,000 to study how to finance the construction.

January 14, 2010
Copyright 2010 MediaVentures

The Budget/Finance & Administration Committee of the Centre City Development Corp. has taken a vote that could lead to financing of a new stadium for the San Diego Chargers. The vote lifts the cap on the amount of money that can be spent to improve blighted areas downtown. Work would go beyond the stadium project. The move must still be approved by the full CCDC board and the City Council.

February 11, 2010
Copyright 2010 MediaVentures

San Diego, Calif. - The site being considered for the San Diego Chargers new stadium could make it impossible for fans to hold tailgate parties near the venue.

There is not enough room on the stadium site being studied in the East Village for a big parking lot, let alone one to rival the asphalt oasis at Qualcomm Stadium that Mayor Jerry Sanders once proudly called the largest parking lot west of the Mississippi. One foundation of the downtown stadium plan is that fans will take the trolley or park in an existing pay lot or on the street.

In 2004, Padres fans largely gave up tailgating when the team moved from Qualcomm Stadium to Petco Park, just west of the potential Chargers site.

The Padres' Web site counts more than 27,000 parking spaces near the ballpark but says tailgating is allowed in only one lot, Tailgate Park. That lot has 1,040 stalls, though a Chargers move could lead to fewer because the stadium project may occupy part of the lot.

Chargers officials realize that fans are already concerned about the future of tailgating, said Mark Fabiani, the Chargers special counsel who has led the team's stadium search since 2002.

"It's something that's really important to people," Fabiani said. "What we've got to do is hopefully convince people that there are other ways to have that kind of experience other than having to maintain a 130-acre parking lot in the middle of the city of San Diego.

"That no longer makes sense for anyone. It doesn't make sense for taxpayers. It doesn't make sense for the team. It's the one thing I think that even people who could care less about football could agree with the Chargers on."

"Petco has proved that fans are smart," Fabiani added. "They're adaptable, and they will find other ways to have a great time."

San Diego wouldn't be the only downtown NFL stadium with minimal tailgating. Similar situations exist in Chicago, Cincinnati, Detroit, Indianapolis, New Orleans and St. Louis. Two of these stadiums - in Detroit and Indianapolis - opened this decade as part of a league construction boom. Chicago underwent a major renovation.

March 11, 2010
Copyright 2010 MediaVentures

Sacramento, Calif. - The NFL must reject the idea of blacking out television coverage of games if it wants public money for its teams under a bill being proposed by a San Diego assemblywoman. Lori Saldana believes the public should be able to see games if they helped fund a team.

Since 1973, the NFL has mandated a blackout within a 75-mile radius if a game is not sold out within 72 hours of kickoff. Despite increasing criticism around the country, the league has been steadfast in sticking with the policy.

Blackouts are a rare occurrence for the San Diego Chargers.

The team has been a perennial playoff contender in recent years, but even last year the Bolts struggled to fill all of the seats at Qualcomm Stadium. At times, the NFL waived the 72-hour rule to provide more time to sell tickets. The last time hometown fans couldn't tune in to a regular season contest was in 2004.

San Diego has provided subsidies for both the Padres of Major League Baseball and the Chargers.

The most notable was the controversial Chargers ticket guarantee in which the city bought all unsold tickets for years, guaranteeing sellouts. That policy, agreed to in 1995, was dropped in 2004 after considerable criticism.

The proposed legislation, which seemingly faces long odds and is still being crafted, comes as negotiations intensify between the city of San Diego and the Chargers over a new venue, possibly downtown.

Stadium talks could hinge on the public's willingness to support subsidies for the estimated $800 million project. Saldana estimates that taxpayers could be asked to cover as much as a quarter of the bill.

Saldana said a blackout can hurt the local economy. Sports bars and restaurants count on game-day patrons, drawn by big-screen televisions and party atmospheres. Families, hard-hit by the economic downturn and unable to afford tickets, also are denied the joy of rooting for their home team, she said.

Saldana's proposal will be amended into existing legislation in the coming weeks.

April 22, 2010
Copyright 2010 MediaVentures

San Diego, Calif. - The San Diego Chargers are considering a soft, inflatable roof for a new stadium they hope to build downtown near Petco Park.

"No one in California expects to see a roof on a stadium because our weather is so great here," said Mark Fabiani, the Chargers' official in charge of stadium development. "It really turns a football stadium, which isn't used very much, into a multi-use facility - particularly in downtown San Diego, where it's very close to the convention center."

The concept actually began a while back, when a local civil engineer suggested roofing the proposed stadium in the East Village in order to make it a year-round entertainment and convention venue.

The Chargers originally believed a roof would be too expensive, but after further review, they're seriously looking at a much lighter approach.

"The stadium will go from sidewalk to sidewalk," Fabiani noted, "and there's not going to be a big perimeter around it."

Images of the kind of soft roofing the Chargers have in mind are in use at numerous stadiums around the world, mostly in Asia and Europe. They're made of membrane materials as polycarbonate, which are far cheaper than the $200 million structures needed to support snowfall at stadiums in real winter-weather cities.

On April 27, officials from Centre City Development Corporation, the city's redevelopment arm, are scheduled to ask the City Council to lift CCDC's spending cap to allow for funding of major construction projects - including a stadium - beyond 2014.

May 27, 2010
Copyright 2010 MediaVentures

San Diego, Calif. – The San Diego Chargers have released drawings of their planned stadium near Petco Park ahead of a June hearing on a consultant’s study of the plan.

Chargers special counsel Mark Fabiani, who has spearheaded the team's search since 2002, said several hurdles stand in front of the team and the construction of an $800 million stadium near Petco Park, not the least of which is a public vote being contemplated for 2012.

“You never want to say never, but that's pretty much the ballgame for this idea,” Fabiani said of the upcoming vote. “If the study is defeated, it will signal a lack, to say the least, of council support.”

In April, the council put off for two months a vote on whether to spend $500,000 on a study that's a precursor to pumping public money into a downtown stadium.

The Chargers say they can spend $200 million on the project, but they're counting on public dollars – perhaps as much as $600 million – to finance the stadium.

For now, Fabiani said, the Chargers “have done two big pieces of work”: San Diego-based Turner Construction Co. determined that earthquake fault lines and contamination at a bus yard in the stadium footprint aren't deal-killers, and Kansas City. Mo.-based Populous, which has designed dozens of stadium projects, figured out how to position the stadium on a relatively small, 10-acre site.

June 24, 2010
Copyright 2010 MediaVentures

San Diego, Calif. - The San Diego City Council has approved $500,000 to study redevelopment possibilities for the city's downtown, including a new stadium for the Chargers.

As a result of the action, a series of consultants will be paid about $500,000 to study what blight remains downtown in a first step toward securing the approvals to spend more money - largely in the form of property tax revenues spurred by redevelopment.

That would make more money available for a range of projects, from sidewalks to stadiums, officials said.

October 14, 2010
Copyright 2010 MediaVentures

San Diego, Calif. - Language slipped into a last-minute deal on the California budget could help the San Diego Chargers' effort to build a new stadium, according to the San Diego Union Tribune.

The arrangement, advanced by Assemblyman Nathan Fletcher with the blessing of Mayor Jerry Sanders and the knowledge of the team, eliminates a $2.9 billion cap on downtown redevelopment from 1992.

Consequently, the city's redevelopment planners can halt a $500,000, 18-month study to lift the cap and clear the way for a potential construction boom beyond the stadium. They also will not need the approval from the county, two state government departments and three other government bodies.

The Chargers have been considering a 10-acre site east of Petco Park for about a year, saying a stadium could cost $800 million, including a $500 million public subsidy. Team officials said in December that a new stadium would almost certainly involve taxpayer money, after almost seven years of saying it wouldn't. They previously considered redeveloping Qualcomm Stadium and other sites in Chula Vista, Oceanside and Escondido, the newspaper reported.

The move means that tax increment financing could be available to subsidize a new stadium and any other public improvements downtown, which have been estimated at $6 billion over the next 30 years.

While no financial plan has been presented, the Chargers have projected a 62,000-seat stadium would cost up to $800 million. The team has indicated that as much as $500 million in public funds might be needed.

Sanders had targeted 2012 for a public vote on a stadium deal. He said the timetable still stands, but whether a vote is required or even binding would depend on the deal with the team.

January 6, 2011
Copyright 2011 MediaVentures

San Diego, Calif. - The news web site, Voice of San Diego, says the Chargers and the city have yet to begin serious negotiations on financing a potential $800 million downtown football stadium, despite the clearing of a key financial hurdle almost three months ago and near constant chatter about the team's future in San Diego and the prospect of new stadiums in Los Angeles.

"We've not had a serious discussion, serious negotiations, serious things with the Chargers that would warrant hurrying things up because I don't think anyone can define the environment today," Fred Maas, outgoing head of the city's downtown redevelopment agency, the Centre City Development Corp., told the web site.

The environment is filled with significant uncertainties for both the city and team, though the the web site said the city's side was supposed to be clearer by now.

City and redevelopment officials now say the Chargers stadium is part of the larger debate about the future of downtown redevelopment. That debate was thought to have been resolved by last-minute state legislation passed in October that extended CCDC's lifespan by 20 years to 2043, a move that allows the city to collect and spend significantly more tax dollars downtown.

Simply put, they said, there still might not be enough money to pay for a new stadium and other demands on the downtown redevelopment kitty, the web site said.

"There is only a set amount of redevelopment dollars available," Darren Pudgil, a spokesman for Mayor Jerry Sanders, told the Voice.

The Chargers face even more vagaries about their potential financial commitments. A labor dispute between the National Football League and its players could lead to a lockout after the current contract expires in March, throwing next season into doubt. Further, the league's stadium financing program is tapped, leaving the team without at least one major planned revenue source.

Negotiations between the Chargers and the city over a 10-acre site near Petco Park in downtown's East Village neighborhood began in fall 2009. Unlike other potential stadium options sought around San Diego County over the past eight years, the downtown location doesn't rely on the Chargers finding a private development partner to help finance the facility. The site can't fit more than a stadium.

Instead, the primary funding sources were expected to come from the team, the NFL and the city, according to the Voice. The Chargers put the stadium's price tag at $800 million, not counting the costs for relocating a bus terminal that's now on the site.

Who would pay that $800 million has never been addressed except in generalities. The team's stadium point man, Mark Fabiani, has said the team and NFL could put up $300 million, leading to the conclusion the city would be on the hook for $500 million.

That amount, Maas said, is a "misnomer." Neither side has made any specific proposal for a public subsidy, he added.

A consultant's study that is supposed to examine the city's financing options remains on indefinite hold, Pudgil said, until city leaders decide how to divvy up the downtown redevelopment pot. Sanders opposes having CCDC payoff the Convention Center bonds.

"There's no sense in having [a consultant] put something together with these issues still outstanding," Pudgil said.

The stadium study originally was expected last spring and then postponed until the city resolved how much downtown redevelopment money it could collect.

CCDC's revenues depend on development. The more development there is, the more property tax revenue the agency can collect.

The most recent projections show that there will be $386 million available for downtown redevelopment projects over the next 14 years.

Just paying for Convention Center and Petco bonds alone could cost CCDC $244 million over that time, Maas estimated.

Still, the $386 million figure is no more than an estimate of the agency's share of downtown tax revenues. CCDC could have more money if developers decide to build more quickly now that the state legislation effectively extended CCDC's lifespan, giving it more opportunity to entice construction. Presumably city leaders also will argue that building a stadium downtown will stimulate growth and lead to greater returns as well, according to the Voice.

On the other hand, CCDC could have less money if the economy continues to stall and fewer people build.

Even though financing specifics aren't being discussed, the city and the Chargers are still talking, Pudgil and Maas said. Maas, who left the city at the end of the year, said he remained in infrequent but regular contact with Fabiani. Pudgil said that the team has told the city it wants to remain in San Diego. The Chargers have said they have a good relationship with the city.

March 10, 2011
Copyright 2011 MediaVentures

San Diego, Calif. - New meetings have been held between the Chargers and city officials to look at new options for funding a stadium now that economic development funds from the state are endangered, the San Diego Union Tribune reported.

"The meeting focused on the future of redevelopment and the proposed changes out of Sacramento, the future of the NFL's G3 stadium loan program after the League's Collective Bargaining negotiations are resolved, and financing alternatives in the event that the City and the Chargers do not ultimately have access to redevelopment funding and/or G3 funding," the team and city said in a statement after the meeting. "The Chargers and the Mayor's Office will continue to work together as these important issues are resolved."

This was the first official meeting between Sanders and team president Dean Spanos since Oct. 6. Besides those two, participants included the mayor's top two staff members, chief of staff Julie Dubick and deputy chief Amee Faucett; communications chief Darren Pudgil; Fred Maas, former chairman and acting president of the Centre City Development Corp.; and Mark Fabiani, the Chargers' counsel on the stadium project.

The newspaper said Maas has talked of developing a sports and entertainment district along with the stadium that could extend from Petco Park to the waterfront. He is modeling his idea on Los Angeles' LA Live complex, where developers and city of Los Angeles also are considering adding a football stadium.

The Chargers have been counting on covering most of the $800 million cost of the stadium with the use of redevelopment funding and NFL support. Another $150 million already has been budgeted to clean up the proposed site near Petco Park.

The Union Tribune said Fabiani has lately spoken of backup sources, such as city real estate assets, such as the sports arena in the Midway area, Qualcomm Stadium and downtown properties. They might be serve as collateral for a city bond to cover costs. But the source of debt repayment has not been pinpointed.

April 28, 2011
Copyright 2011 MediaVentures

San Diego, Calif. - Proposals for a new home for the San Diego Chargers are expanding to include an entertainment and convention center complex in the downtown area, the team's point man for stadium development said in a radio interview.

Mark Fabiani told sports talk hosts Scott Kaplan and Billy Ray Smith about the plan. The discussion was reported by the La Jolla Light.

"That's an idea that's gaining some traction," Fabiani said. "I think it's an idea that's starting to make a lot of sense to people."

Some developers are interested, he said. Whether the idea gains support should be known in a few weeks, Fabiani said.

"Not only could you create a venue for Final Fours and American Medical Association conventions, but you could also free up that land at the Sports Arena site, if you have the equivalent of a sports arena downtown," Fabiani said.

"You could then sell or lease that land, you can sell or lease the Qualcomm (Stadium) land. You could put all the money the city loses on those two pieces of property in a new project."

The Light said the interview came on a day when Mayor Jerry Sanders and his staff reportedly gave a closed-door briefing on the stadium search to officials with the San Diego Sports Commission.

The super-sized proposal was to be a topic at meetings this week, according to Fabiani.

"Whether people are in a mood to think big right now is a big question because obviously the economy is still is very poor, the city's budget situation is very poor," Fabiani said.

The Chargers want to put a proposal to a public vote next year, the Light said.

July 28, 2011
Copyright 2011 MediaVentures

San Diego, Calif. - Chargers' special counsel Mark Fabiani told the San Diego Union Tribune a new labor agreement means the league may resume loaning $100 million or more to help individual teams build a new stadium, but he stressed the money won't be limitless.

"It's a huge victory for new stadium efforts in San Diego and elsewhere that the players and owners agreed on a credit system and the next step will be the NFL discussing, and we hope instituting, a new loan program," Fabiani said. "That will give the Chargers at least as much as if not more than we would have been entitled to under the old program."

He added: "Like the old program, the new program won't be funded with unlimited amounts of money, and it will be first-come, first-served."

Under the now-defunct NFL stadium loan program, the Chargers expected the league to give it about $100 million toward construction, Fabiani said.

He declined to speculate on how much money the team might obtain from the league under a new deal or when owners might consider the issue of creating a new stadium construction loan program.

A $100 million league loan would cover about an eighth of the cost of building a stadium east of Petco Park that the Chargers estimate will cost $800 million. How and whether to finance the rest of it, especially in a bad economy, is an open question for Chargers fans and taxpayers alike, the newspaper said.

Early reports on the labor deal said it spells out that "Clubs receive credit for actual stadium investment and up to 1.5 percent of revenue each year." Going forward, owners would have to create a new loan program (to replace one from 1999, which basically ran dry in 2007) and then approve any new applications, the Union Tribune reported.

New stadium proposals are being considered in Minnesota, the Bay Area, Los Angeles and San Diego.

Currently, 13 of 32 NFL teams owe the league money for stadium construction loans, according to this financial audit obtained by earlier this month. The audit, from last year, show these teams' principal and interest balances range from $6 million to $158 million. The two New York teams have the highest balances, for their shared stadium in New Jersey, the league's newest.

In 2006, the NFL agreed to loan the New York Jets and Giants a combined $300 million for the league's first shared stadium, the Union Tribune said.

Before that, teams that received comparable $150 million loans for new stadia included the New England Patriots and the Philadelphia Eagles, in 1999, the year the league's owners created their so-called "G-3 stadium program."

The New York loans are being repaid over 15 years through revenues from club seat sales.

August 4, 2011
Copyright 2011 MediaVentures

San Diego, Calif. - The San Diego Union Tribune notes that the Chargers say in a blog post on their web site that the cost of a new stadium could exceed $800 million.

"The post is worth noting for two reasons," the newspaper said. "One, it shows how Chargers special counsel Mark Fabiani, point person on the team's stadium search since 2002, will now attempt to build support for funding a new venue. And two, it suggests that the stadium's cost may exceed the $800 million figure most often tossed around in the discussion."

The newspaper said Fabiani suggested that borrowing against future redevelopment dollars is one way of keeping the project alive, while noting that would increase its cost.

The City of San Diego will not have available redevelopment money until sometime into the next decade Š perhaps as late as 2024 or 2025.

"Therefore, we now need to find alternative sources of funding. One idea that is getting some traction is the creation of a new Sports and Entertainment District that would tie closely into the existing Convention Center Š and perhaps become part of the proposed Convention Center expansion. This sort of District could give us access to funding sources that are now not available for a simple stand-alone pro football stadium," the newspaper said.

The Union Tribune said Fabiani's focus on how a new stadium might be packaged as part of a sports and entertainment district downtown is nothing new. He has advocated that for months, calling an expanded convention center a focal point of a super-project while suggesting convention center expansion funding sources could become a potential revenue stream for the team's construction project.

August 18, 2011
Copyright 2011 MediaVentures

San Diego Mayor Jerry Sanders and three advisers are on a three-day nationwide tour of downtown sports and entertainment districts to get ideas for what might work in developing a new stadium for the Chargers, according to the San Diego Union Tribune. They are visiting Indianapolis, Kansas City, Mo., and Denver.

September 22, 2011
Copyright 2011 MediaVentures

San Diego, Calif. - The Chargers have asked their architects to produce an $800 million stadium plan that would include convention space and eliminate the need for a $550 million expansion to the San Diego Convention Center now being prepared, the San Diego Union Tribune reported.

Mark Fabiani, the team's counsel on the stadium, told the newspaper the meeting here with the architects about 10 days ago will be followed up in October with a proposal expected by year's end.

"Does it make sense in San Diego? Does it make sense to change gears on the convention center?" he asked. "I think we are very much open to a discussion and debate and hope we can have that discussion and debate."

Fabiani said the team could exercise its exit clause between February and May to leave San Diego, but he expected the team to be still working on a local stadium plan in that period.

"If we get totally shut down here, people say they don't like the idea..., they tell us to get lost with our ideas, we'll obviously reassess where we are," he said. "Obviously, I hope that doesn't happen."

The idea of added convention space separate from the existing facility is unlikely to find favor with San Diego hoteliers, who are being called upon to help finance the proposed expansion through a surcharge on hotel room bills.

San Diego would be far less competitive in nabbing large conventions if its exhibit space was split between two facilities, Ray Warren, general manager of the San Diego Marriott Marquis and Marina, which is adjacent to the convention center, told the Union Tribune.

"If it's not contiguous space it's really worthless," said Warren. "That would be a deal stopper for us. Anything that would detract from us having a Grade A meeting facility would be such a bigger detriment than the advantage of having a stadium."

Mike McDowell, chief executive of the San Diego Lodging Industry Association, agrees. He expects little support among the hotel community for any expansion that is not contiguous to the existing center.

Fabiani said the architects have been asked to design several hundred thousand square feet of convention space into the proposed downtown stadium Š which would be east of Petco Park on the current city bus yard Š and make it flexible enough to host major sports events, from the Final Four basketball championships to the Super Bowl, as well as other occasions to keep it busy 200 times or more a year.

The idea is to make room for convention uses in the end zones and to cover the grass as needed to provide exhibit space. The stadium also would include restaurants and meeting spaces usable for convention delegates.

He estimated the cost at $750 million to $800 million, including a retractable roof, with perhaps half the funding coming from local taxpayers. Redevelopment officials have budgeted $150 million for site cleanup and relocation of the bus yard but not any funds to underwrite actual construction. But that fund is contingent on more development fueling more downtown redevelopment taxes.

Populous, the Kansas City-based architectural firm working for the Chargers, designed NFL stadiums most recently for the New England Patriots, Houston Oilers and Arizona Cardinals. It's currently working on the 2012 Olympics stadium for London.

Meanwhile, the $550 million convention center expansion is dependent in large part on funds generated by an assessment of one percent to three percent levied on hotel bills. Other potential sources, including revenue from downtown food and beverage sales and a citywide surcharge on taxi fares, would generate up to $40 million in bond payments.

It is that financing plan Fabiani said that could be shifted to the stadium project instead. The convention expansion would result in an additional 225,000 square feet of contiguous exhibition space, doubling the present size, plus more meeting and ballroom space.

October 13, 2011
Copyright 2011 MediaVentures

San Diego, Calif. - San Diego Mayor Jerry Sanders has hired a financial adviser to help city and county officials draft a plan to pay for a Chargers stadium in East Village. The San Diego Union Tribune says he hopes to have the public vote on the project in 13 months.

For the first time, Sanders gave a rough estimate of the potential public contribution to the venue: $38 million a year. An aide later told the newspaper that arrangement over 30 years could cover a bond that generates half of the funding for an $800 million stadium.

Sanders said his goal is for San Diego's latest consultant - George Bilicic, the global head of power, energy and infrastructure for New York-based Lazard Ltd. - to draw up a proposal for Chargers approval next year.

Sanders' talk of a facility to replace Qualcomm Stadium comes as construction of a $185 million main library faces a $25 million shortfall and as the Chargers continue to push against the mayor's plans for a $550 million expansion of the downtown San Diego Convention Center.

Mark Fabiani, the team's special counsel, reacted coolly to San Diego's retention of a stadium adviser and said it won't stop him from advocating for a new stadium with convention space instead of separate Chargers and convention center projects.

"Hiring someone doesn't create revenue," Fabiani said. "There's only a certain number of options available, and those don't get expanded because you bring somebody else in to write you a report."

Sanders called Bilicic's firm "one of the premier municipal finance firms in the country," and said Bilicic has represented the NFL and is working with the state of New York to build a sports arena in Nassau County, New York, where the Islanders could play hockey.

The Mayor's Office said it is retaining Lazard Ltd. for less than $250,000, most of it to be paid contingent on a deal being worked out with the Chargers. City officials said the specific contract wording still needs to be finalized.

Sanders said a new stadium should be a regional project because about 75 percent of the people filling 44-year-old Qualcomm Stadium for Chargers games live outside San Diego.

The most recent figures from the Chargers, from the 2006 season, showed that 18,562 season ticket holders lived in the city, 8,498 lived in North County and 5,248 lived in South County. Fans from Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside and San Bernardino counties accounted for 13,731 of the season tickets.

The mayor told the newspaper that Chargers president Dean Spanos knows he prefers to handle the stadium and convention-center projects separately, but that he hasn't met with Spanos in about a month or told him about his new approach.

Sanders said there's a possibility of forming a joint powers authority with San Diego, the county and perhaps others. He wouldn't elaborate on that issue or on potential sources of revenue, saying "we're not going to negotiate out in the public."

County supervisor Dianne Jacob said she hoped to put something before voters in November 2012, as the mayor wants, but that the county wasn't going to be rushed into a bad deal. She said she would want some sort of "return on investment" for the county.

Sanders isn't guaranteeing a vote will be held on the project in 2012, his last year in office. But he said any vote wouldn't involve a tax.

"It's not a tax that we're talking about putting on," he said. "I think it would be a long shot in this economy, at this time, to try to get any revenue increase because it takes 66 b percent. I don't think you could get that if you said we were going to solve homelessness, solve all disease, solve everything else."

January 26, 2012
Copyright 2012 MediaVentures

San Diego, Calif. - The San Diego Union Tribune is offering its own plan to fund a new stadium for the Chargers, expand the city's convention center and develop the waterfront.

In a front-page editorial last Sunday, the newspaper said, "We need to think about the options with fresh eyes, without preconceived notions of what is or is not possible. After weeks of interviews and other reporting, U-T San Diego has come to believe in a new vision. It is a vision that would not just integrate a new stadium with an expanded convention center, but, in phases, would include a sports/entertainment district with a new sports arena, new public parkland, public beach and promenades - all in an area that today is unsightly industrial property inaccessible to the public.

"More expensive than current plans? Yes, with a total tab of perhaps $1.5 billion. But the rewards would be far greater, too."

The newspaper envisions a stadium near the 10th Avenue Marine Terminal, constructed in a way that does not interfere with port operations and workers' jobs.

The newspaper believes its plans would make the city's waterfront a major national destination. "Built in sync with a new stadium, sports arena and a sports-entertainment-resort district, the result would be an enormous engine for economic growth and job creation - a bold project far more likely to attract future Super Bowls, NCAA Final Fours and other mega-events than the present plan.

"It would make the pending vote on a proposed hotel tax to fund the bulk of Convention Center expansion much more attractive to hoteliers located away from downtown, who would see the taxes they collect going to a grander project much more likely to help them bring in visitors than just an expansion of the Convention Center."

The newspaper says funding could come from the planned hotel tax, $200 million from the sale of the Qualcomm Stadium site, $90 million in bonds supported by the current budget of $13 million a year used to maintain Qualcomm, $50 million from the sale of the Valley View Casino Center arena, $50 million from the sale of stadium naming rights, $63 million could come from the sale of bonds based on a $10 fee per-seat, per-game and a change to the downtown signage ordinance to allow electronic billboards could generate millions of dollars annually.

"So could a merchandise assessment of 3 percent on goods purchased at the new stadium," the newspaper added.

The newspaper said it will continue to push for its plan.

"This is not an impossible dream. With hard work and resourcefulness, it is an achievable vision. We hope the citizens of San Diego agree Š especially those who hope to succeed Jerry Sanders as mayor later this year. It's time for the city to think big and strive to realize its stunning potential."

February 2, 2012
Copyright 2012 MediaVentures

San Diego, Calif. - Chargers special counsel Mark Fabiani told a roomful of regional leaders that a new football stadium is more likely to get built with political and financial support from around the county, and that a public vote on the venue would almost certainly slip to 2013 - when a fresh crop of politicians would be joining the debate.

"We think we would do better on a countywide vote than we would in just a citywide vote," Fabiani said according to the Union Tribune. "So our lawyers have already advised us, and will continue to, about the kinds of things that would justify a countywide vote."

Fabiani's comments came during a dinner that kicked off an annual retreat for the San Diego Association of Governments' board of directors, which is comprised of 19 mayors, city council members and county supervisors. As special counsel to Chargers president Dean Spanos, Fabiani has been the public face of the team's effort to build a new stadium since 2002.

SANDAG is a planning, transportation and research agency that could become increasingly important as the Chargers continue lobbying for a venue to replace Qualcomm Stadium. The team is focused on the possibility of building a stadium in East Village on a site that includes a bus yard owned by the San Diego Metropolitan Transit System.

SANDAG could become involved in an effort to pay for a replacement bus yard or transportation-related infrastructure improvements, but the agency's revenues likely wouldn't go toward stadium construction.

San Diego Mayor Jerry Sanders has been talking about a stadium as a regional asset for months. In October, he said he was "working with" county supervisors Ron Roberts and Dianne Jacob and SANDAG on the stadium issue.

March 8, 2012
Copyright 2012 MediaVentures

San Diego, Calif. - Since late 2009, two San Diego County supervisors have been quietly meeting with San Diego Mayor Jerry Sanders about using county tax dollars to build a new Chargers stadium in downtown San Diego's East Village.

The North County Times said Supervisors Ron Roberts and Dianne Jacob said they've made no financial commitments to Sanders during eight private meetings they've held on the stadium topic since November 2009.

But the supervisors are in the huddle, and paying attention.

"We're in the discussions, we're interested," said Roberts, who represents central San Diego on the county board. "We've told the city, if they can show us how this would develop new revenue streams (for county government), we have a strong interest."

Jacob, who represents East County, expressed greater skepticism.

"I think the city (of San Diego) wants us to be a financial partner. What the city wants and what the county will do, likely are different things."

There are no public agendas or records of what took place in the city-county meetings, according to Sanders' spokesman Darren Pudgil, who described the gatherings as "informal."

Nor has the trio of government leaders briefed the public about the meetings, because there have been no decisions to report, spokesmen for Sanders and Roberts said. The state's open meeting law does not apply to meetings when less than a majority of a public board or council is present.

Sanders and Chargers officials in recent months have increasingly promoted the new stadium and the professional football team as regional assets.

They note that a majority of Chargers season-ticket holders live outside the city, and that a new, retractable-roof stadium could attract "mega events" such as Super Bowls, college basketball tournaments and political conventions, generating jobs and tourism dollars across the county.

City and Chargers officials want to build the stadium on a 15-acre East Village site near Petco Park that is now home to a bus maintenance yard. City and Chargers officials say they hope to place a measure on a countywide ballot in 2013, asking voters for permission to use public funds for the project.

All sides are waiting for a financial report from city-consultant Lazard Ltd., expected this spring. That report will outline options to pay for the stadium, said Pudgil, Sanders' spokesman.

March 8, 2012
Copyright 2012 MediaVentures

San Diego, Calif. - Building a waterfront stadium could cost $2.5 billion, more than twice as much as an inland site, and require the approval of 23 agencies, Mayor Jerry Sanders told a real estate conference.

"I don't have enough time in my lifetime to get that done," said Sanders, who noted he will be out of office in exactly nine months.

The Union Tribune said he spoke at the 16th annual real estate conference sponsored by the University of San Diego's Burnham-Moores Center for Real Estate.

The preferred plan, he said, is to build a new Chargers stadium on the city bus yard site and add in entertainment facilities, which he estimated at $1.1 billion.

"That catalyzes the east end of downtown, much like Petco did for the Gaslamp Quarter," he said. "So it's not about a sports facility, it's more about an economic generator that can bring all sorts of new activity, especially in the east end of downtown."

The waterfront idea was recently launched by Union Tribune publisher and developer Douglas F. Manchester, and Sanders praised it as a "grand vision" but impractical.

The mayor's staff said the cost estimate and agency count came from the San Diego Unified Port District, whose board last month voted against considering a stadium at the 10th Avenue Marine Terminal.

As for Qualcomm Stadium, where the Chargers currently play, Sanders said the 162 acres could be sold for no more than $150 million, not $500 million as some estimates have suggested, because of existing pollution problems.

An alternative he is exploring with San Diego State University is to use some of the land for housing, administrative and classroom space to relieve pressure on the Montezuma Mesa campus and include commercial development to generate new tax revenue.

April 5, 2012
Copyright 2012 MediaVentures

San Diego, Calif. - A plan for financing a new stadium for the San Diego Chargers has been delayed until September, the San Diego Union Tribune reported.

That timetable leaves Mayor Jerry Sanders little more than two months to win City Council approval, not to mention the team's endorsement, before he leaves office because of term limits in early December.

The Mayor's Office released the contract and a stack of printed emails between aides and representatives of New York-based Lazard Freres & Co. LLC, in response to a public records request from the newspaper.

The emails show the firm began work, including a series of meetings, on how to pay for a stadium in October, without a contract.

Under an arrangement authorized by the City Attorney's Office on March 12, the consultants will be paid $250,000, but only after they complete their work. This includes preparing a draft report by August that details their preferred stadium plan and two alternatives, and then issuing a final report based on feedback from the city by September.

Sanders has said no funding plan for a new stadium is possible without regional support. Without being specific, he has suggested that county government and the San Diego Association of Governments could contribute.

The emails don't elaborate on these or other revenue streams that could pay for an $800 million stadium, excluding an estimated $150 million of land acquisition and remediation.

They do propose one funding source: A game-day surcharge on parking garages near the East Village site being eyed by the city and team.

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