Chargers Renew Drive for Downtown Stadium
The San Diego Chargers have teamed up with ColonyCaptial, an investment firm, and Populous, a leading designer in sports facilities and convention centers. All three recently sent letters to the California Coast Commission urging them to consider a viable, non-coastal alternative to the proposed San Diego Convention Center expansion plan.
The revised plan would include a new home for the Chargers in a multi-purpose, state-of-the-art NFL stadium. The facility would include 250,000 square feet of convention space and would be suitable to host major events including the Super Bowl, the NCAA Final Four, political conventions, religious gatherings, and concerts.
Mark Fabiani, Special Counsel to the President, wrote the commission on behalf of the Chargers. Fabiani discussed economic development, environmental concerns, and aesthetics in demonstrating the need for a revised plan.
“Indeed, from a development perspective the (current) plan before the Commission fails to capitalize on San Diego’s greatest assets and literally cuts the downtown off from its waterfront,” Fabiani wrote. “We believe this is both unnecessary and an inferior development choice.”
Fabiani went on, “The Convention Center’s expansion needs can be better met with a more dynamic project that is both greener and more marketable by extending the reach of the Convention Center into a campus setting anchored by a multi-purpose facility east of Tailgate Park.”
The Chargers have been trying to move a stadium project forward for 11 years. The focus was narrowed to downtown in October of 2009. Concept plans for Tailgate Park were unveiled in May of 2010.
“The biggest obstacle has always been the biggest obstacle … how to privately finance a project of this scope,” Fabiani said in 2009.
After more than a decade of attempting to find a creative solution, there may finally be some light in overcoming the biggest obstacle. ColonyCaptial has joined the effort to pull together a group of investors to finance the project.
Thomas J. Barrack, Jr., the Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of ColonyCaptial, also wrote a strong letter to the California Coastal Commission.
“The multi-use facility of the kind the Chargers and Colony are contemplating will vault the San Diego region into competition for the largest and greatest events both in the United States and across the globe. Without this sort of multi-use facility, these kinds of mega-events will never be attracted to San Diego, even if the Convention Center expansion plan before the Coastal Commission goes through.”
The design of a potential new Chargers stadium would be headed by Populous. The firm was also responsible PETCO Park and the recent renovations of the University of San Diego’s ball park. Other world class facilities using their designs include Yankee Stadium and the London Olympic Park.
Dennis R. Wellner, the Senior Principal for Populous, believes a new stadium could include 250,000 square feet of convention space.
“We feel this is a great opportunity to design a facility which serves a variety of uses, thus eliminating the need to build multiple facilities each with a single primary use. This is the essence of sustainability. A flexible building could be activated year round by maximizing the number of event days, and an operable roof could not only celebrate the ideal San Diego weather for NFL games but also close to provide the ideal environment for conventions and other indoor events.”
As it stands now, a new home for the Chargers is not in the plans for the expansion of the San Diego Convention Center. The California Coast Commission must fully explore this option. On the surface it appears to be a win-win that provides both jobs and business opportunities while permanently tying the Chargers to San Diego.
Contact the California Coastal Commission to voice your opinion.
45 Freemont Street
San Francisco, CA 94105-2219
Mark K. Shallenberger, Chair
Dr. Charles Lester, Executive Director
San Diego Coast District Office
7575 Metropolitan Drive Ste 103
San Diego, CA 92108-4402
Sherilyn Sarb, Deputy Director
Deborah Lee, District Manager