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Polling Casts Gloom Over the Chargers Stadium

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Yes, it's a poll conducted almost 3 months ago. Yes, it is based on the turnout for the June primary. But the results portend trouble for the Chargers Stadium Initiative.

A rendering of the Chargers' proposed downtown stadium
A rendering of the Chargers' proposed downtown stadium
MANICA Architecture

Last night, Voice of San Diego's Scott Lewis tweeted out the results of a poll conducted by Competitive Edge Research & Communication. This poll was conducted in April, and designed to gauge the public's view on the Chargers' downtown stadium initiative.

As you have probably heard, and in what will not come as much of a surprise, the polling shows that the Initiative is in big trouble. I'll discuss some of the more interesting elements below.

Click on this link to see the full poll results.

What Does The Poll Say?

First of all, let's establish the context of the poll.

According to Lewis, the poll was commissioned by the Republican Party of San Diego County. The poll sampled 603 San Diego city voters between April 12th and April 16th, and the voter turnout model was set to 37% to reflect the anticipated level of turnout for the City's Primary election in June.

With all that in mind, here are the results which I found interesting:

  • Only 20% of those polled described themselves as "big fans" of the Chargers. According to the polling company, this is the lowest percentage they've ever recorded, and it's likely some of the previous "big fans" have bled into the "casual fan" group of 42%.  37% described themselves as "not a fan at all".
  • Among local voters, the stadium issue is not the most important issue. Only 11% of those polled indicated the stadium was the most important issue, while 23% of voters were most concerned about infrastructure maintenance and street repairs.
  • 41% of voters indicated that building a new football stadium was not at all important, compared to only 9% of voters who believed it was extremely important. This was far and away the biggest gap between non-importance and importance. The issues which generated the highest percentage of "extremely important" were: Schools and education at 44%, Economy at 41%, Roads and Infrastructure at 40%, Jobs at 39%, and the City's Budget at 36%.
  • When comparing Expanding the convention center to Building a new football stadium, very few people view them as "Extremely Important." However, 63% of voters view the convention center expansion with some degree of importance, compared to 44% of voters which view a new football stadium with some degree of importance.
  • When it comes to increasing the Transient Occupancy Tax (TOT) to raise the revenue for the Chargers' stadium initiative, here are the numbers: 38% definitely no, 20% probably no, 8% unsure, 18% yes, probably, and 17% yes definitely. Further, according to the pollsters:
  • But there's another reason the measure is destined to fail without a drastic change in public opinion: even those who see a new stadium as very important are split on the measure. 46% are voting ‘yes' and 45% are voting ‘no.' These are the folks who want the Chargers to stay, but have serious questions about the details in the Chargers' plan (such as this).

Yikes!

Keep in mind, this poll was taken when there was some hope for the Chargers that their initiative might only need 50% + 1 to win in November. Since that time, we've learned the two-thirds requirements is back in place, based on the California Supreme Court's review of a decision reached by the 4th Appellate Court earlier this year.

This would have been difficult, but doable if the threshold was 50% + 1. For this to pass, the Chargers will have to swing nearly all the voters who have indicated they are unsure or probably no, and still swing around a third of the definitely no crowd.

So, What Now?

Well, one thing we do know is that the Chargers weren't even in the process of gathering signatures when this poll was conducted. As this point, over 110,000 signatures have been submitted and are being vetted by the Registrar as we speak.

Another thing we know is that we haven't seen anything resembling a campaign from the Chargers as of yet. All of the airtime - aside from interviews like this one given by Chargers' Special Advisor Fred Maas - has been taken by vocal opponents of the measure, either because they were running for office or are organized opposition to the measure itself.

Furthermore, it seems evident there's a lot of lingering anger over the franchise's attempts to relocate to Los Angeles last year. When compounded by an awful season on the field, the conditions are ripe for these kind of polling results.

The bottom line is the Chargers have what appears to be a Sisyphean task ahead of them to get to the 2/3rds yes requirement their initiative needs to secure passage.