Monday’s release of the Citizens’ Stadium Advisory Group’s new stadium plan answers a lot of questions. It also brings up a lot of questions, not the least of which are:
Will it work fiscally?
Will the Chargers accept it?
Those are to be determined in the future. For now let’s go with some of the more hard-and-fast questions, things we can give definitive answers to. The entire 42-page report can be found here, but if you’re short on time (or patience) these are five questions football fans will have about the proposed new facility.
1. What are the stadium specifics like size and design?
The CSAG proposal is based on a 65,000 seat stadium that can expand to 72,000 seats for special events like the Super Bowl or College Football Championship games. It will be an open-air stadium because, well, we live in San Diego and the cost of putting a roof on would add an estimated $150 million to the project. Instead of a rood there is a canopy around the ring to provide shade. Design company MEIS (who designed Staples Center in Los Angeles as well as NFL stadiums in Cincinnati and Philadelphia) says the canopy is designed to, “… ensure a home field advantage by keeping crowd noise close to the field.” Seattle and Kansas City, get ready. You might have company in the NFL’s Loudest Stadium debate.
2. When can construction start and when will the build be completed?
CSAG suggests negotiations with the Chargers start immediately. Once the deal is ironed out, the Group recommends the team start (and fund) a citizens’ initiative to gather enough verified signatures to secure a City Council vote prior to the NFL Owners Meetings in October of this year. Basically, to the same thing here the team did in Carson. Since the area is already zoned for a stadium the site could be shovel-ready by 2017. The build is expected to last 30 to 36 months, meaning the first games could be played there in 2019 or, more likely, 2020.
3. Why was the Mission Valley site chosen instead of the Downtown area?
According to CSAG research, the Downtown site presented more problems than the Mission Valley spot. Multiple land parcels would have to be purchased, the total area is smaller and therefore not able to be developed, and a bus yard would have to be relocated, among other concerns. CSAG determined all that would raise the total cost by at least $250 million and call for a tax increase of $600 million, something that would have trouble passing with two-thirds of the voting public.
4. What else will the stadium be used for?
San Diego State University and the San Diego Bowl Game Association have both expressed interest in using the new facility and paying annual rent to do so. In addition, the CSAG identifies multiple events in its report. Right at the top of the list is a Major League Soccer expansion franchise in San Diego, something that has been kicked around for a long time but that might become a reality with a new facility. International soccer matches involving the U.S. National Teams and prominent Mexican and British clubs will be pursued, along with major college football games, concerts, Monster Jams and Motocross/Supercross events.
5. (Possibly the most important of all) … Will I still be able to tailgate?????
The short answer is, yes. But it’s a bit more complicated than that. CSAG earmarked part of the infrastructure cost to go to a 12,000 vehicle parking structure near the stadium, as well as a dedicated tailgate facility. It will be different from the current Qualcomm Stadium setup, where basically any spot in the lot can be used for tailgating, and the area will be smaller. But we all know tailgating is a tradition at San Diego sporting events and despite public fears that activity not going away.
That’s just a sampling of some of the more commonly asked questions. I’m sure you have more. Feel free to peruse the report or ask me yourself on Twitter (@DerekNBCSD) or Facebook (Derek Togerson NBC 7 San Diego). I’ll be happy to get back to as many as I possibly can.