AIA San Diego Op-Ed on Chargers' Stadium Ballot Initiative: 'Not So Fast'

The San Diego Chapter of the American Institute of Architecture believes the NFL Chargers’ downtown stadium proposal is full of risk and lost opportunities. AIA - SD opines the existing stadium site is superior both for the fan and the taxpayer.

2 minute read

June 1, 2016, 12:00 PM PDT

By wadams92101

Qualcomm Stadium

f8grapher / Shutterstock

In an op-ed, the San Diego Chapter of the American Institute of Architects asks San Diegans to look past the glossy images and the media blitz of the NFL Chargers in their effort to secure a new downtown stadium. Earlier in the year, the Chargers ownership rejected a proposal by the City to build them a new $1.2 billion stadium near their existing stadium site. Instead, Chargers’ owner Dean Spanos sought what he believed was a greener pasture in Los Angeles via a joint stadium proposal with the Oakland Raiders on a former landfill in Carson.  However, the NFL owners chose a competing proposal by St. Louis Rams owner Stan Kroenke to build a stadium in Inglewood. As a consolation prize, Spanos was given $300 million and the option of becoming a tenant in Kroenke’s new stadium.  He has a year to make the decision.  Spanos is using the time to push for a new stadium in San Diego's downtown. The Chargers proposal, via ballot initiative, is to build a combination stadium/convention center annex a la Indianapolis’s Lucas Oil Stadium.  Public funding will come via a hefty increase to the Transient Occupancy Tax on hotel rooms. Spanos is selling the tax increase as essentially a windfall paid by out-of-towners. 

The AIA - SD points out the many costs and unknown risks of the downtown stadium proposal in comparison to building at the existing Mission Valley site. Such costs and risks include the lack of existing road, parking, and transit infrastructure at the new site, the lack of identified funding for such infrastructure, the potential displacement of the current development “renaissance” near the site, the impact of traffic on surrounding communities, the high potential for cost overruns and delays due to environmental and other issues, the lack of sufficient space (15 acres) at the downtown site for a stadium (nevermind a combination stadium/convention center), the convention industry’s preference for expanding the existing convention center rather than building a convention annex attached to a stadium, the potential liability of the city for cost overruns falling outside the scope of Charger's portion of the project, and perhaps most importantly, the existence of a better alternative at the existing Mission Valley stadium site, which eliminates many of these concerns. 

To read the op-ed itself, please visit the original article. 

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