San Diego Chargers fans trying to help the team build a Downtown stadium/convention center hybrid are frustrated with a lack of progress. They believe they’ve identified the group most responsible for the current Downtown dilemma and are actively doing something about it.
In the eyes of Chargers fans, the San Diego hoteliers (and to a slightly lesser extent the local politicians they support financially) have long been Public Enemy #1 in the stadium battle. So Bolts fans are throwing down the gauntlet.
“Until these hoteliers and the politicians that represent them come forth to transparently discuss and negotiate the Chargers’ downtown convention center/stadium solution,” said Jason Riggs, Founder and Chairman of the San Diego Stadium Coalition, “we are asking everyone not to patronize their hotels.”
On Monday the San Diego Stadium Coalition, Save Our Bolts, and multiple other fan groups totaling more than 42,000 members called for a national boycott of San Diego hotels owned by specific hoteliers. The list includes:
• Lodge at Torrey Pines
Town and Country Hotel
• Town and Country Hotel
• Pacific Terrace Hotel
• Humphrey's Half Moon Inn & Suites
• The Dana on Mission Bay
• Sheraton La Jolla
• Hilton Harbor Island
• Best Western Island Palms Hotel and Marina
• Holiday Inn San Diego Bayside
• Days inn San Diego Hotel Circle (near Sea World)
One of the main targets for the boycott is Evans Hotels Executive Board Member Bill Evans. He is currently the head of the San Diego Tourism Marketing District, an entity that is reportedly ready to finance a study on the impact that a Downtown convadium and the corresponding tax increase would have on tourism in America’s Finest City. Chargers fans have begun consistently emailing and calling Evans in an attempt to apply pressure and asking for explanations of why he’s working against the Chargers.
Evans Hotels, the Town and Country Hotel, and Bartell Hotels issued a joint statement on the boycott to NBC7.com:
“We are reviewing this boycott release/language and gathering more information. We won’t be commenting at this time.”
The San Diego Tourism Authority declined to comment.
The SD Stadium Coalition and Save Our Bolts have already secured support from fan groups of other NFL teams. A Rams fan group called Bring Back the Los Angeles Rams, a Raiders group called Stay in Oakland, a Dolphins fan group called Phin-Addicts, and a Bills fan group called Bills Fan Thunder have all pledged to join the boycott. The Raiders and Dolphins both play in San Diego this year so any fans from those teams who travel to San Diego for the game will not be staying in any of the above-mentioned hotels.
“We know it’s going to take some real financial pressure on these hoteliers before they’ll negotiate in good faith to resolve our lingering convention center and stadium issues,” said Riggs. “We feel this is a good start.”
The question now is will this boycott have the desired financial impact?
"I suppose it would depend on how organized this movement is,” said Carl Winston, Director of the L. Robert Payne School of Hospitality & Tourism Management at San Diego State University. “I question if it's going to be sustainable. I understand passionate sports fans, I am one. I don't believe it will have a material or long-term impact.”
Part of the reason for that is geography. Looking at the list of hotels targeted by the boycott, one notices many of them are not close to Mission Valley or Downtown San Diego.
“Those guys don't get any business from the team,” said Winston. “People don't go to the Lodge at Torrey Pines during game day. People who travel tend to stay near the stadium or Downtown. I think there are probably more effective ways to get resolution to this public issue. It sounds like misguided passion.”
However, Winston is not shooting down the boycott idea completely. He says if it is able to grow organically and maintain sustained momentum it could cause the hoteliers to take notice.
The Chargers are still working towards securing enough signatures to get their citizens’ initiative on the November ballot while fan groups are also applying pressure to San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer to publicly state his opinion on the Downtown convadium citizens’ initiative.