The San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce’s board of directors has voted to support the San Diego Chargers’ November ballot initiative to build a multi-purpose stadium and convention facility in downtown’s East Village.
“We take pride in being an action-oriented business organization that works to continually move our region forward,” said Chamber President and CEO Jerry Sanders in a statement. “After a thorough review of the plan, we believe the Chargers initiative is the best step forward in meeting the challenge before us: keeping our NFL team in San Diego and enhancing our convention industry.”
“For us, it’s also a matter of civic pride, and the positive impact a new stadium would have on the East Village, Downtown, and the entire region,” Sanders said.
Chamber officials said an ad-hoc committee appointed by Board Chair Ernesto Arredondo and chaired by Sanders met with Chargers representatives, partner organizations and other interested stakeholders to examine the $1.8 billion project and its potential impact.
“Having the support from the respected membership of the Chamber, and Jerry in particular, is tremendously important to our success in November,” Chargers Chairman Dean Spanos said in the chamber statement.
The Chargers’ plan calls for raising the city’s current hotel taxes, totaling 12.5 percent, to a total of 16.5 percent, to finance the bulk of the city’s portion of the project cost. In a letter delivered to the Chargers, the chamber asked the team to address several issues, including ways to ensure that the city’s Tourism Marketing District (TMD) continues to receive its current collections derived from a 2 percent tax on hotel rooms, separate from the 10.5 percent transient occupancy tax.
Like a competing ballot measure, the Chargers’ plan does away with the TMD tax in its current form, although both allow a small portion of future hotel tax collections to be designated for tourism marketing.
The chamber is also asking the Chargers to ensure that games are scheduled to best accommodate large events in the city, and that replacement parking is identified to make up for spaces that would be lost if the current Tailgate Park is removed. The chamber also wants “absolute protection” of the city’s General Fund, and seeks community outreach by the team regarding infrastructure needs.
The chamber’s support came as an opposition coalition, known as No Downtown Stadium – Jobs and Streets First, announced that San Diego City Councilmember David Alvarez has joined the group.
“San Diegans are tired of deals that give away millions of taxpayer dollars to people who don’t need the money,” Alvarez said in a coalition statement. “I am confident San Diegans will say ‘enough’ and reject this bad stadium deal.”
The coalition also includes several local architects, taxpayer advocates, land-use attorneys and community leaders. It is chaired by April Boling, former chair of the San Diego Convention Center executive board and the city’s Pension Reform Committee.