The San Diego Chargers will seek voter approval in November to raise city hotel taxes from 12.5 percent to 16.5 percent, to finance a $1.8 billion downtown facility that combines a stadium with convention center space, according to published reports.
Citing sources close to the team and hotel industry, The San Diego Union-Tribune and Voice of San Diego reported that the Chargers were aiming to complete language for a ballot initiative before month’s end, in order to begin collecting signatures in early April. The U-T said Chargers officials are proceeding on the assumption that passage will require two-thirds approval by voters, although it remains unclear whether it would need two-thirds or a simple majority of voters’ approval.
Guests at city hotels currently pay a 10.5 percent transient occupancy tax (TOT) that goes toward basic city services, plus a 2 percent tax that goes specifically to a tourism marketing district, which supports regional tourism promotion programs.
Voice of San Diego said the Chargers’ proposal would increase the city’s current TOT from 10.5 percent to 16.5 percent, while eliminating the 2 percent marketing district tax. It would set aside 1 percent of the increase for a tourism marketing trust fund and 5 percent to support costs for a hybrid stadium and convention center.
The Chargers are eyeing a city-owned site east of Petco Park in East Village that currently houses Tailgate Park, along with adjacent private parcels and a block that is currently being used as a Metropolitan Transit System bus yard.
The Chargers’ financing plan would differ from one previously proposed by a citizens’ coalition, led by a group that includes former city council member Donna Frye and attorney Cory Briggs. The coalition is currently gathering signatures for a planned November ballot measure that would raise the TOT from 10.5 percent to 15.5 percent, allowing hotels to designate a portion of the increase to tourism promotion efforts. Specific projects to be funded with the new revenue would require separate future votes.
Chargers and city officials were not immediately confirming details on behind-the-scenes negotiations related to a ballot measure that might finance a downtown stadium.
“At the moment, the Chargers are in the middle of discussions with various parties, so for now we don’t have any additional comment,” said Chargers special counsel Mark Fabiani, in an email to San Diego Business Journal.