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Recapping the Chargers Stadium Task Force Public Forum

The Citizen's Stadium Advisory Group got a chance to hear ideas from San Diego residents and Chargers fans regarding the location and financing of a new stadium. What they ended up with was a Pep Rally.

CSAG just before the start of the Public Forum
CSAG just before the start of the Public Forum
Jeff Siniard

According to sources, there were over 2,000 people at Qualcomm Stadium last night. 300-400 inside Club 5, with the rest watching on the Jumbotron

Before the event, there was a decent sized rally in the parking lot. Quite a few people treated it like any other gameday. Most everyone was passionate about keeping the Chargers in San Diego.

While I appreciate the passion many of the fans brought to the meeting, a little of that passion goes a long way. Some of it was moving - especially an older gentleman who mentioned that his family comprised 4 generations of Chargers fans, a woman whose family has to save as much as possible to make their season ticket payments, and especially a young man in a wheelchair who simply said he'd be heartbroken if the Chargers left San Diego.

The rest was people venting about the situation, how they wanted the team to stay in San Diego, and they didn't care how it was accomplished.

Through the din, there were some occasional good ideas, and a few nuggets of information which could be used by the Citizen's Stadium Advisory Group (Stadium Group) when making their final recommendations to the Mayor and San Diego City Council.

Part One: Where should the stadium be built?

Unfortunately, there was quite a bit of empty cheerleading, and a bit of grandstanding especially during the 1st half of the Open Forum.

crowd at beginning

The crowd inside Club 5 before the start

The Stadium Group asked people to state where they preferred a new stadium. Downtown or Mission Valley?

In between the emotional appeals and sloganeering, it was evident that most in attendance preferred the Mission Valley site? Some stated because of the central location, others because they thought it would be cheaper and easier than downtown. A couple people even expressed a desire to renovate Qualcomm Stadium.

A young urban planner pitched an ambitious plan to combine a stadium with a contiguous Convention Center expansion.

But most people preferred Mission Valley for one reason. Tailgating.

I get tailgating is fun (and has been a favorite element of Chargers' games for me, personally) and a phenomenal communal rite. However, if all you're about (in regards to a new stadium) is grilling and throwing back drinks with your buddies, then it's probably a waste of personal resources.

Personally, I'd rather keep the Chargers in San Diego and lose tailgating than the other way around.

Part Two: How should we pay for a new stadium?

This was the point at which most of the empty cheerleading departed, and a few serious ideas were brought to the table.

waiting in line

My POV waiting for a turn at the microphone. Many early attendees have departed

First, and maybe most importantly, there were many people in the meeting who were residents of San Diego County, and they made very clear that they wanted to have an opportunity to be involved with any public vote on a new stadium. Given the recent comments from County Supervisor Ron Roberts about a potential "bridge loan" to help pay construction costs, I see no way going forward that this doesn't become a county-wide measure.

Several people expressed support for the idea of raising the Transient Occupancy Tax (TOT) to fund the construction of a new stadium.

One attorney pitched a challenge of getting 68,000 people to "loan" the Chargers $15,000 each for stadium construction.

A few people expressed that they would be more than willing to pay for Personal Seat Licenses (PSLs), as well as re-using the "buy a brick" concept which was used at Petco Park and other stadiums.

One gentleman had the idea of the City and the Chargers splitting the County's Bridge loan equally, which would mean the City and the Chargers would owe the County $500 million or so over 30 years. I'm not sure how this would work, but it was a new concept.

Yours truly pitched the idea of the Joint Powers Authority, as a means of avoiding the 2/3rds vote requirement and allowing the City and County to pool resources. I also mentioned ideas from yesterday's post about ways to generate revenue year-round.

In Closing

I'm not sure if the Stadium Group really gleaned much from this public forum, other than people like tailgating, and' fans don't want the team to leave San Diego.

That said, I think the vocal statements by County residents helps ensure County participation, it opens the door to re-introduce the concept of PSLs as a funding mechanism, even if it's on a limited basis, as well as other funding concepts like purchasing part of the stadium, using the "buy a brick" method, or some other crowdsourcing method.

Mostly, it served as an opportunity for a frustrated and nervous fanbase to vent. And on that count, it was a smashing success.