San Diego Mayor Plans NFL Road Trip

Chargers stadium concept hopes to become much more

San Diego Mayor Jerry Sanders will visit three NFL cities this week to learn first-hand how they created sports and entertaining marketing districts linked to stadium, arena and convention facilities, he said Tuesday during a City Hill briefing.

His ultimate goal is to get a measure on the city's November ballot next year to develop a stadium that would serve as a venue for numerous events -- not just football games -- in a designated downtown commercial district designed to create thousands of jobs.

"I'll be meeting with the mayors of Indianapolis, Denver and Kansas City while I'm in each of those cities," Sanders said. "And we'll take a look at each of those concepts and see what we can bring back that will be uniquely San Diego by the time we're done."

On Wednesday, the mayor and key staffers will tour "KC Live, "Kansas City's Power and Light District, and its nine-block neighborhood that includes Sprint Arena and a convention center.

The next day, they'll tour Lucas Oil Stadium, home to the Indianapolis Colts, and surroundings that also encompass a convention center.

On Friday, their destination is Invesco Field, where the Denver Broncos play, along with its commercial area.

Sanders emphasized that while time is of the essence in developing a synergy among a new stadium, the Convention Center, Petco Park and businesses in East Village and the Gaslamp Quarter, there's no sense of desperation just because Los Angeles is moving forward on a stadium proposal.

"I think that the Spanoses (the Chargers' owners) have been very clear: they want to stay here," Sanders said. "They don't want to sell a controlling interest or huge interest to anybody else. They want to control their own destiny.

"I take Dean Spanos at his word; he wants to be in San Diego. So we're going to put a deal together that allows that."

The city's point man on the sports/entertainment district project says it's important to brainstorm possibilities beyond concurrent football seasons for the Chargers and San Diego State Aztecs, and offer up the stadium for a multitude of activities in conjunction with other downtown venues.

"I'll give you an example," said Fred Maas, newly appointed special assistant to the mayor. "How do we think about developing a facility there that could be in a Final Four rotation for the NCAA's? How do you attract prize fights?

"How do you attract lots of things that currently are not happening in San Diego, because we don't have a venue to accommodate them?"

"Ultimately," said Maas, who until last year was CEO and chairman of the Centre City Development Corp., "this is a case that has to be made to the voters. This is not a City Council vote, it's not a mayoral dictate.

"It's going to have to pass muster with them. Which means it's going to have to go through the grind of a political process."

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