Critics of the Chargers' downtown stadium plan now have fresh ammunition for their opposition campaign -- a tourism industry study saying the project would cost far more than the tax revenue it would generate.
At Chargers Park, there's a focus not only on winning a lot of NFL games, but the hearts and minds of San Diego voters in November.
The team has nothing but contempt for the latest research that undermines their efforts.
”We've done our own study that comes to dramatically different findings,” Chargers special adviser Fred Maas told NBC 7 in an interview Thursday. “I think the best solution here would be to have an honest debate between our consultants and their consultants."
The opposition's consultants are Chicago-based HVS Global Hospitality Services, hired for $30,000 by San Diego's Tourism Marketing District.
HVS’ 62-page study concludes that the Chargers' $1.8 billion "ConVadium" plan – an all-purpose stadium in East Village, adjacent to a convention center annex -- would cost $67 million a year while bringing in $2.3 million annually in hotel room taxes.
The Chargers are dead-set against the city's offer of a new stadium deal at the current Qualcomm site in Mission Valley.
But recent public opinion polls show the Bolts’ field of dreams in East Village will be hard-pressed to get simple-majority support -- never mind the two-thirds super-majority required for tax measures.
"They may be stuck with San Diego; I hope that they are,” says April Boling, spokeswoman for the “No Downtown Stadium” campaign. “I hope that's what it turns out to be. Because (the Mission Valley) plan's a viable plan."
For his part, Maas isn’t inclined to look too far beyond the Nov. 8 citywide election.
"Clearly, if the voters overwhelmingly say they don't want the Chargers to stay here, that would be an important signal,” he conceded. “But I don't see that happening -- at least from the outpouring of support we've gotten so far."
Meantime, Charger fans groups haven't given up hope for a "Hail Mary" prayer being answered.
"I think what it's really going to take to make this work is for all of these people to get in a room and try to strike a deal, right?” says Jason Riggs, chairman of the 20,000-member San Diego Stadium Coalition. “I mean, there hasn't really been a lot of negotiation. It's 'Here's our plan, take it or leave it.' Or '’That plan won't work, but we're going to propose an alternate plan’."
There's still an 'L.A.' option in all this, and the Chargers have until next year to decide whether to exercise it under the purview of the NFL.
But the Rams are already going to the bank, big-time, in that market -- while the Chargers roll the dice on an uncertain outcome here, already having spent several million dollars on the cause.