Saldana Boards Bolts Bandwagon for New Downtown Stadium

Mayor Kevin Faulconer's leading challenger for re-election came out today in favor of a downtown stadium for the Chargers — which is not the incumbent’s first choice of sites.

Former Assemblywoman Lori Saldana wants the current Qualcomm Stadium site converted to other uses.

Saldana may be a long shot in the mayoral race, but she's got the gravitas of three terms as a state lawmaker in Sacramento.

Now teaching in the community college system, Saldana favors expanding San Diego State University and creating parkland where the Chargers now play.

"And what we don't need is more development to pay for expanding a stadium that the Chargers franchise has already said they will not support,” she told reporters during a Thursday news conference on a Normal Heights bluff overlooking Qualcomm Stadium."

Saldana made her announcement in the company of attorney Cory Briggs, author of the “Citizens Plan” initiative, and endorsed the Chargers' proposal for a downtown venue in East Village -- which the team would have to pay for – in conjunction with a convention center facility that could be funded through a hotel room tax hike.

"What we need is to be investing in our future,” Briggs said. “And the way you do that is to be thinking about your institutions of higher learning, thinking about how to do that along transit lines, and thinking about how to do that at the least cost with the most benefits for the public."

The city's plan for replacing Qualcomm Stadium on-site calls for $350 million in subsidies from the city and county.

But the team considers the Mission Valley approach so unworthy that it pushed for a new home in Carson -- until the NFL said no.

Now the Bolts are bucking the city again with their East Village scheme, leaving Faulconer in a corner.

"He doesn't want to be having this fight with the Chargers, he doesn't want to be having this fight with Briggs in the first place,” says Andrew Keatts, who covers City Hall for NBC 7’s media partner Voice of San Diego “Why engage it on another front, with a person who's actually running for office against him?"

In response to Saldana's announcement, Faulconer's press secretary issued this statement: "The mayor believes a stadium plan must represent a fair deal for San Diegans. We remain in discussions with the Chargers and are currently awaiting the release of their stadium financing proposal."

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