Chargers Get Bolt of Inspiration

The design is inspired by the Chargers' iconic lightning-bolt branding

By Gene Cubbison
|  Thursday, Mar 10, 2011  |  Updated 4:11 PM PDT
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Chargers Get Bolt of Inspiration

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Nobody's "shown them the money" yet. But the Chargers have just been shown a radical new way of planning their proposed downtown stadium.

This novel approach came to the Chargers unsolicited, no money asked. See images

It's a labor of civic love on the part of a three-member, local design team that wants to keep the Bolts local and put a bold, classy stamp on an unfinished side of East Village.

"There's about 12 acres of 'public experience' around the site, and that actually connects to the existing buildings," says Gaslamp Quarter architect Paul De Bartolo.  "It's a stadium that's embracing its city around it."

And it's an approach its creators hope will be embraced in some form by the Chargers, the city and the constituents of both.

Australian-born De Bartolo and his fellow Aussie business partner Ivan Rimanic began collaborating on it late last year with San Diego landscape architect David McCullough.

They finally presented it to the Bolts' brass last week, and posted the schematic renderings on their website.

Their civic message, in part: "The Gaslamp has really transformed with Petco Park, but it's missing something vital, in our opinion," said McCullough. "And if something doesn't happen, like what we're proposing, then it's probably going to remain parking lots and train tracks into eternity."

The stadium itself would be shaped like a volcanic dome -- design inspired by the Chargers' iconic lightning-bolt branding.

"By taking the Chargers logo and mirroring it, you do create a circular coliseum setup for a stadium, and by extruding the form, you start to generate the sides of the stadium, and how it can work in these different wings," explained De Bartolo.

Meantime, the overall site concept -- featuring a vast stretch of green open space with an iconic structure, and elevated trolley tracks -- is erupting in a lot of imaginations as it goes viral online.

"It was extremely important for us to really explore the linkages into the city for this site," De Bartolo said.

While this team of dreamers has no illusions about the difficulties of turning the concept into a reality, they want to jump-start the brainstorming process in hopes that the project makes it farther down the road.

"We feel that we're so close in San Diego to having a city that's comparable to some of the greatest cities in the world. And it's one area that I think we could have this," De Bartolo said.

Chargers special counsel Mark Fabiani has forwarded the design package to the team's architects; so far, no feedback.

The principal partner and namesake of London Group Realty Advisers said the new proposal helps focus discussion on enhancing the proposed stadium's visual appeal and connection to its surroundings.

"This throws down the gauntlet," says Gary London, who's worked with the Chargers.  "Unless that aspect of the project is really addressed, (the stadium) probably doesn't get very far."

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