Not that long ago, any suggestion that the city could expand the Convention Center with a separate building across the street or farther away was met with derision from boosters and city leaders who were committed to a contiguous facility.
Now the mayor’s point man on the expansion project and the current chairman of the Convention Center Corp., Steve Cushman, is signaling he’s changing his mind. At the same time, a new study is going forward that may show an offsite campus is best for the customers the Convention Center wants to attract.
It’s a slow-motion flip of prevailing opinion of downtown boosters and city leaders that could have major implications for the future of the waterfront.
Cushman has spent six years pushing for a waterfront, contiguous expansion of the San Diego Convention Center, first as a port commissioner, then as co-chair of the mayor’s citizen task force.
Now, as chairman of the San Diego Convention Center Corporation, Cushman isn’t so sure that’s the best site to expand or if an expansion is merited at all.
“It is truly is up in the air,” Cushman said at a board meeting last month, before advocating against spending more money to secure the planned site of the contiguous expansion, known as Fifth Avenue Landing. “It would be totally irresponsible, even if we had the money, to go spend $13.8 million to take over the remaining nine years of this lease because we have no project.”
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If only the effort spent on the no-economic-benefit stadium and iffy-benefits convention center expansion were spent on recruiting major university research and graduate study satellite campuses to downtown - like Carlsbad is doing. Tailgate park would be a perfect location, and maybe the last sizeable piece of land left downtown for such a campus. The economic benefits - high paying jobs, high-tech incubators, attraction of high tech private sector - are far superior to a convention center expansion or a stadium. The IDEA district promoters get it but our city leaders don't. They are pandering to sports fans and low wage hotel owners. Here are a couple of links to previous articles on this issue:
Love how a non-contiguous convention center was absolutely impossible...until it was not. Politics as usual in SD.
" It’s a slow-motion flip of prevailing opinion of downtown boosters and city leaders that could have major implications for the future of the waterfront."
A slow-motion flip? Hardly. More like an obvious desperate last-minute flip after their first choice flopped. They'll do anything to secure the expansion, even if it's not needed.
Was it something I said? I had commented to bcat's post and bcat responded to mine. They have disappeared. Neither comment consisted of vulgarities or any insults. Wonder why they were deleted?
The introduction to this piece is inaccurate. Several hotel owners -- including the Omni (owned by JMIR) -- were asked to financially participate in a new convention center study. JMIR did not believe such a study was necessary. Previous studies have already made the case for a nearby campus expansion of the Center such as the official expansion plan approved in 2003 which was on the tailgate property. We listened to the pitch for a new study and after careful consideration declined to participate because we still believed the study to be unnecessary and knew that self-interested parties would use our participation to discredit the report. This, of course, would be counterproductive to those preparing the report and to the Mayor's office which supports doing the report. This decision was communicated to the Mayor's office well before the City Council meeting in which Ms. Lightner is quoted in the article.
@Steve Peace Hi Steve. Not only did the Convention Center agenda approving the study list JMI as a contributor (see bottom of page 1 here http://www.voiceofsandiego.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/06/CSL.pdf), but the convention spokesman confirmed this fact to both the council cmte and myself. What's more, the CEO of JMI Realty confirmed it when we spoke and then notified me the donation was recently pulled. What's clear is there was a financial contribution by JMI to the CSL study and now there isn't one.
The main issue with the non-contiguous proposal is the walking distance between the two facilities. It takes roughly 15minutes to get from the North end of the Convention Center to the east village location. Say you want to host a big convention such as CES or E3. You would not be able to do so since they require large exhibit halls. Logisticaly it is easier to have one big facility than two separate. Also with Comic Con, no one wants to walk 15 minutes to get to their next panel. It's easier to have everything in one facility. Granted if it's just walking to Petco, that's fine. Anything that requires walking close to a mile or more is no go for the people I've talked to about this issue.
@Ashly McGlone @Steve Peace Ashley, the doing of the Report was always promoted by persons other than JMI. The report was/is unnecessary because the analysis was contained in a separate earlier report that confirmed that non-contiguous can work. JMI considered contributing to this latest report because it was asked to do so, but always was concerned that support would be used adversely by those with private agendas to degrade the report and embarrass the Mayor.
The decision to not contribute was timely communicated to the Mayor's office before the Council meeting referenced in your article but was not also communicated to the Convention Center or Council staff because JMI was not in direct communications with those persons.
But, the fact remains, JMI considered helping but decided not to for the very reasons that your article reflects.
Why do I favor an expansion of a convention center over a stadium? I'm not really sure...
An expanded convention center is filled with xxx,xxx of people every year coming to San Diego to spend money. They have to at least get a hotel and some food. Seems like a good idea... Expanding it helps us compete with larger convention centers. Seems like a good idea... Our convention center is very close to the airport, train, hotels, restaurants... it is as convenient as Moscone Center in SFO or even more so.
I'm sure that there are some rich people that make a lot of money off of convention goers, so I doubt it trickles down much to the average San Diegan. Although I hope each of those restaurants is owned by a local.
I have many friends that come to visit San Diego at our convention center. Candidly, none of them visit a ballgame. They all go to the zoo with their kids, go sailing, or take a walk and eat.
So, why favor this over a stadium for the Chargers (or Padres for that matter). A stadium just doesn't seem very civic. Surely it is holds a sports team and our city is in the newspaper, on TV, on the internet as people watch games. But, what has it done for me?
Petco Park is expensive for a family. Tickets, hot dogs, drinks all drain my wallet! I could BBQ at the bay for a lot less and not have my children exposed to foul language. Between travel, parking, and the time of a game it is a 4 - 7 hour commitment. At least the have a few civic events (Science Expo). That's attended (free) by xx,xxx locals.
If my kids were allowed to play baseball or football in OUR stadium, that might be a different story. Then again, I have a local high school and park for that activity. Why invest millions in a public stadium?
On the other hand, why expand the convention center (without another stadium). The commercial reasons are clear - there's a lot more money to be made. It is an "export", making money off of travelers rather than residents. But likely, it still lines the pockets of rich people with more money (convention organizers, construction contractors, concessionaires). None the less, merely expanding the convention center gets my vote while adding a new stadium does not.
@bcat Agreed. I have mixed feelings about a convention center, but if had to make a choice between that and a stadium, I think the convention center is a better idea. They are more versatile and they can be more of a "community" center as well. The down side is that they are big, hulky buildings that close off streets. They are money losers and expensive to maintain. Plus there always seems to be a need to "expand" them. When one city builds or expands its center then other cities treat it like an act of war and the arms race continues. "If only we had more square footage we can compete with Vegas!" Then to attract conventions cities discount the rates because they feel if you can bring bodies to town, they will spend and circulate money and the economy can boom. No, convention centers do not boom the economy. They may help nearby hotels, restaurants and some tourist attractions, but overall it most likely doesn't add much to the overall economy.
Convention centers as well as stadiums are legacy projects for politicians who can stand up and say that they are working to improve the quality of life in our town. If these folks really want to improve the quality of life, I would like to see the street lights in my neighborhood actually be turned on at night. But I guess street lights don't add jobs and no plaque will be put next to the lights with a list of city council members and mayor who approved that they should be lit.
Is this to say that each of us prefers a benefit to our local neighborhood over "civic pride"?
For me, I think that is true. A downtown skyline, a modern mall in Mission Valley, a sculpture at the waterfront... these are "nice", but do they really affect my quality of life - not very much.
Please don't spend my money trying to improve their skyline, game experience, or political legacy. Is this selfish? Yes, to some degree. To another degree, don't tax me "heavily" for a benefit I don't value or use.
I feel like I benefit more from many "average" people improving their life rather than a few "above average" people improving their life. To that end, I'd rather have a convention center support concession jobs, hotel jobs, and restaurant jobs rather a stadium support people that can pay $100 - $200 / ticket to an NFL game and a series of NFL players and concession jobs that happen (x14) per year.
Give me a bay that we can all fish / sail / boat on... give me a park we can all play in... give me roads I can travel on... give me police / fire I can rely upon... rather than a beautiful downtown skyline, a train to Sacramento, or a stadium millions will rarely use. Remember, we are a county of over 3 million and a city of over 1 million. Everyone can make it to San Diego or Mission Bay. Not everyone can attend an NFL game (there aren't even enough seats, let alone the price!).
Just like we shame drought wasters we need to begin shaming stadium freeloaders starting immediately using the hashtag "dangerous morons".
BTW, time to be reminded in which business SD ought to be rather than this incredible NFL nonsense:
Are they planning on building this on Tailgate Park? The Padres control that for quite a few more years. All they need to do is say no, and then what?
The city is obligated to provide X number of parking spaces and uses Tailgate Park for that purpose. My guess is the city could figure out how to do that, for example, through engineering (maybe go underground) and/or more transit options (possible with city and county support at SANDAG).
Too soon to know for sure but not too soon to be looking seriously at the options.
@David Crossley According to Kratzer, the parking would need to be replaced under the terms of the lease, but it's not an insurmountable hurdle.
@David Crossley Page 205 of this city document says the 30-year Tailgate Park lease signed with the Padres has a "Modification of Leased Premises" section that allows for development on the site after 2010, so long as the parking spots are replaced and contaminants are removed from the property.
How about save two birds with one stone?
The quickest solution is to act quickly on the Chargers/JMI plan that combines the stadium and convention center downtown. Going in this direction would both save the Chargers and Comic-Con. It would also save a tax payers a ton on money in not duplicating construction costs.
Parking structures cost 15-17 thousand per spot and that is just for construction, entitlement, architecture and legal battles and to the cost. There is no reason to wastefully spend that time of money twice by expanding the convention center in Downtown and building a stadium in Mission Valley.
We only need to look at Lucas Oil Field in Indianapolis for proof that a stadium and convention center can work together.
The time for action is now!
@Dan McLellan --Sure, they will work. After they are built, you just keep raising taxes like they did in Indianapolis to pay for it.
Sorry... not so interested. Just can't figure out why I should spend ANY of my money on a stadium. I feel no civic pride for the Chargers. The players and owner(s) have no love for me. I can't afford to take my family to a game and I don't want to expose my kids to the (foul) language and drunken behavior that I've seen at Aztec games.
I buy a new convention center... especially if I can buy the bonds! Remember when Petco was built and they offered 8.5% return on construction bonds when they raised the money? I would've bought them for half that return! Yet they were only made available to institutional investors.
Want to see what people will do for a stadium? Total up the cost, tell them how much per year, then see if they'll also purchase the bonds (again for a modest return). In this case, voting with your wallet would be the most fair way to create the stadium. Let those that want it both finance it and vote to increase their own taxes.