The San Diego Chargers are supporting a previously announced ballot measure calling for a 5 percent increase in the city’s transient occupancy tax on hotel rooms, as the team looks to garner public support at the polls for a new multi-purpose downtown stadium in November 2016.
The hotel room tax increase was proposed in 2015 by a citizen’s coalition that includes former City Council member Donna Frye and local attorney Cory Briggs. The coalition’s plan has since garnered support from other entities including JMI Realty, a development company led by former San Diego Padres owner John Moores.
In a Feb. 23 statement, Chargers officials said the team “will begin collaborating immediately” with the citizens’ coalition and JMI Realty, both of which favor a non-contiguous convention center expansion. Those entities also generally favor putting the current stadium site in Mission Valley to other educational or recreational uses.
“Our goal is to win voter approval in November 2016 for a downtown multi-use stadium/convention center facility and to facilitate the best possible community uses for the existing Mission Valley site,” Chargers officials said in the statement.
JMI Realty in 2014 put forward proposed designs for a multi-purpose downtown facility that would include a stadium and event space not contiguous to the current San Diego Convention Center. The Chargers proposed a similar project a year earlier, but no government agency to date has formally reviewed any plans for a downtown multi-purpose site.
“We believe that a downtown multi-use facility will attract broad support from throughout our entire community,” the Chargers statement said. “And we hope that, as our downtown proposal is developed and as the campaign for passage begins, those who have supported the Mission Valley site will keep an open mind and consider supporting what we believe is the best way to secure a permanent home for the Chargers in San Diego.”
The Chargers will play at Qualcomm Stadium in Mission Valley for the 2016 season, but the team has an agreement in place to relocate to a new stadium in Inglewood, being built by St. Louis Rams owner Stan Kroenke, in 2017 if it cannot reach an agreement on plans for a new San Diego stadium.
In their own joint statement on Feb. 23, San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer and county Supervisor Ron Roberts reiterated a prior contention that building a downtown stadium, on land not owned by either the city or the Chargers, “would increase costs by hundreds of millions of dollars and take years longer to complete.”
The two officials said an existing proposal for Mission Valley would build a new stadium without raising taxes.
“It remains unclear how the Chargers intend to finance a Downtown stadium,” Faulconer and Roberts said in the statement. “But it is abundantly clear that a ballot measure that raises taxes for a stadium must be approved by two-thirds of San Diego’s voters.
“This is an extremely high hurdle to clear,” the officials said. “We remain committed to maintaining an open dialogue with the Chargers as we learn more details about their plan.”
In a statement, the chair of the San Diego Convention Center Board of Directors, Rabbi Laurie Coskey, said convention center officials will continue to back a previously proposed contiguous expansion.
“A study by Conventions, Sports and Leisure International released in August 2015 determined that a contiguous expansion of the San Diego Convention Center is preferred by our clients and stakeholders while also providing the greatest return on investment for the City of San Diego,” Coskey said. “We will continue to support a contiguous expansion that will provide the greatest financial and economic value for the City of San Diego.”
Mayor Faulconer has also stated previously that he would like to place a ballot measure before city voters this year, seeking to finance a contiguous expansion of the convention center.
Supporters of what is formally called “Citizens’ Plan for the Responsible Management of Major Tourism and Entertainment Resources” are seeking to have voters decide on a proposed 5 percent increase in the city’s transient occupancy tax, levied on hotel room bills, from its current 10.5 percent to 15.5 percent.
The Citizens’ Plan is intended to generate at least $18 million annually in new revenue, which would go directly to the city’s general fund. The revenue could later go toward a non-waterfront convention center project and could also provide for a downtown backup plan for a new San Diego Chargers stadium if one is not built in Mission Valley.