State of City in Disrepair: Fit to Finance a Stadium? | NBC 7 San Diego

San Diego Chargers launch a hurry-up offense to replace the aging Qualcomm Stadium

State of City in Disrepair: Fit to Finance a Stadium?

"The city's been a slum lord with that place, and the Chargers are tenants."

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    NEWSLETTERS

    San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer is expected to share his vision for the Charger's future here. But with city infrastructure in a state of disrepair, will the plans square with voters' ideas? NBC 7's Gene Cubbison digs into the issue. (Published Tuesday, Jan. 13, 2015)

    With the NFL's playoffs nearing the Super Bowl, the San Diego Chargers are looking to what the not-too-distant future holds for them in this city.

    Wednesday evening, Mayor Kevin Faulconer will share his vision for the franchise.

    Will it square with the team's and the ideas of whatever voters may be involved?

    While the Bolts will be back playing in Qualcomm Stadium through the 2015 season, on a yearly basis they can end their lease by paying an exit fee.

    Since there’s no early guarantee that they’ll renew it for 2016, a lot of people will be hanging on what the mayor says about structures such as a new stadium and expanded convention center.

    But the city's infrastructure is in a state of disrepair, and putting billions of dollars toward those causes figures to be a tricky balancing act.

    "If the mayor's plan is to have infrastructure treated separately from the stadium and the convention center expansion, I think that project's probably doomed," said attorney Cory Briggs, who represented civic and environmental activists in legal action that torpedoed the hotel room-tax plan
    for expanding San Diego's bayfront Convention Center.

    "You're not going to get a two-thirds vote to support that sort of thing; you probably don't even get a 50 percent vote,” Briggs told NBC 7 in an interview Tuesday. “That's why treating this as a stand-alone issue is completely wrong. It's misreading the voters."

    For their part, Chargers are planning convention space in a hybrid stadium/sports arena complex nearby -- on 12 acres in East Village encompassing Tailgate Park and the Metro Transit bus yard.

    There's talk of a joint-powers authority comprising the city, county and other government agencies.

    The Bolts suggest earmarking three land parcels -- the East Village site, along with the 166-acre Qualcomm Stadium site, plus 105 acres surrounding the Valley View Center complex in the Sports Arena/Midway District – as private "leverage" to help finance the project.

    "I just find it difficult to be optimistic,” said U-T San Diego sports columnist Nick Canepa. “I've been writing this thing since I was a child. And I'm not a child anymore."

    Canepa points out that the St. Louis Rams' stadium proposal in Inglewood faces numerous obstacles -- starting with his fellow NFL owners – and probably should be downplayed in the minds of San Diegans, in favor of focusing on the here and now.

    "I've felt for a long time that if the Chargers leave San Diego, it will not be the Chargers' fault -- it will be the city's fault,” Canepa said. “Not necessarily because they won't build them a new stadium, (but) because they didn't keep up the one they had."

    Canepa’s last, brutally frank take on the issue: "The city's been a slum lord with that place, and the Chargers are tenants."

    Briggs and his clients, meantime, are challenging the state Coastal Commission's approval of the convention center expansion.

    That court action and potential appeals figure to prolong the uncertainty.

    The conventional wisdom at City Hall and elsewhere seems to be that a ballot proposal must be put to the voters by November, 2016.