San Diegans will soon decide if the city should impose a hotel tax increase to build a dual Chargers stadium-convention center.

Without a new stadium, the city risks losing the Chargers, which have been in San Diego since 1961.

But the massive new development would change the landscape of East Village where it is being proposed.

Advocates for and against the convadium project debated the issue Saturday during Politifest. Chargers adviser and land-use consultant Marcela Escobar-Eck, Jason Riggs of the San Diego Stadium Coalition and Thomas Powell of Save Our Bolts spoke about the importance of moving out of the 49-year-old Qualcomm Stadium.

They said the proposal for an increase of the transient occupancy tax, known as Measure C on the November ballot, would bring in $1.15 billion of the $1.8 billion needed for the convadium. They made clear the measure would require no new taxes on San Diego citizens but rather, for tourists.

“We have the chance to do something that’s visionary and important and really shapes the city’s future,” said Riggs, a lifelong San Diegan.


We Stand Up for You. Will You Stand Up for Us?

City Councilman Chris Cate, architect Rob Quigley and former Economic Development Corp. CEO Julie Meier-Wright, argued against the measure, saying that creating a new stadium would be disruptive to downtown San Diego and that the hotel tax was not the most effective way to build a new stadium for the Chargers.

They also emphasized the danger of residents being left with the bill if tourists do not bring in the expected revenue, which could force the city to seek new sources of revenue.

“The risk that is associated with the city in this measure is too immense,” Cate said.

Quigley was most focused on neighborhood impacts, such as noise and the potential for digital advertising outside the stadium.

“You can make as much noise as you want until two in the morning, then you have to quiet down,” he said. “Would you want to live anywhere close to something like that?”

Meier-Wright followed by revealing that if the tax hike were to be increased from 12.5 percent to 16.5 percent, San Diego would then have the 16th highest hotel tax in the country.

“When was the last time you made a traveling decision based on the hotel tax of a particular city?” Riggs responded.

Powell questioned Cate’s prior involvement with Mayor Kevin Faulconer and discussions Faulconer had with the Chargers about the proposition. Cate responded by saying that it was OK if Powell wanted to criticism him, just as the Chargers have been doing for the last three months.

Afterward, Riggs promoted the plan for making Mission Valley, the current location of Qualcomm Stadium, to become a recreational-use lot for SDSU.

“The campus is obviously out of room to expand,” Riggs said.  “An (Major League Soccer/SDSU) Aztecs stadium has been proposed recently.  These are things that can happen in Mission Valley once Qualcomm is moved off of that site.”

Near the end of the debate, Meier-Wright discussed how if the convadium were to be built, the city would have to spend a minimum of $75 million on parking alone.

Escobar-Eck said that in downtown San Diego, there are thousands of available parking spaces on the weekends.

Quigley reiterated how such a plan would be devastating to East Village.

“If you put the stadium here, the infrastructure just can’t handle that input of traffic,” he said.  “It becomes undesirable, and when downtown becomes undesirable, we just lost 40 years of effort that we’ve done internally downtown.”

At the conclusion of the debate, both sides discussed the possibility of the Chargers moving to Los Angles if Measure C is not passed.

“My hope is that if it fails, the day after, the Chargers [will] come back and negotiate what is the right course of action to build a stadium, that is in the best interest of all parties,” Cate said.

    This article relates to: Politifest 2016

    Written by San Diego State University School of Journalism and Media Studies

    This post was written by a student in San Diego State University’s School of Journalism & Media Studies who’s enrolled in a public affairs reporting class taught by Dr. Arthur Santana. You can reach Professor Santana at asantana@mail.sdsu.edu.

    5 comments
    wadams92101
    wadams92101 subscriber

    @Thomas Powell You like it because it doesn't drill down into any of the superficial claims made by Team Spanos, like "this will be a stadium paid for by tourists." Measure C is drafted by Spanos for the benefit of Spanos in the hope that he can dupe the average voter with something he could never achieve in a negotiated stadium deal.  The fact is, whether its TOT tax increase, the public land being given the stadium, the convention annex that would be built to facilitate a stadium not conventions, the traffic and other ancillary infrastructure that would need be built (e.g., road and freeway upgrades), and the potential for cost overruns (earthquake faults, litigation, envrionmental contamination), the loss of property tax revenues and development impact fees from this valuable land, and TOT revenue shortfall covered by the general fund, this is the biggest single diversion of public resources in the history of the city.  These are public resources that could be used for our huge backlog of unfunded real public needs.  http://www.sdcta.org/assets/files/Proposition C - Chargers Ballot Initiative.pdf

    Thomas Powell
    Thomas Powell

    @wadams92101 @Thomas Powell Unlike the lying Chris Cate you bring up good points. Steve Cushman when he thought he had contiguious expansion in an interview with KPBS he recommended Downtown and Tailgate Park as a great location BECAUSE of the infrastracture in DT. The GF is not at risk at all if the TOT falls short. If there was a fact checker at the debate Cate would have been caught lying. I took the plan to lawyers who read it. If stated plain and simple its the stockholders that are responsible on the stadium side of the TOT if it fails to budget. The Conv center side is silent so it falls on the Joint Authority Group thedn to make that decision. I know the plan is complexed and someone who understands how stadiums are written would have stopped him dead in his tracks for as one said "100% untrue" But i have where the team saying their going to pay 15 million in rent but Chris Cate and Tony M (his pr specialist firm Apex) would rather throw lies and hope it's not fact checked. Parking... Listen 65,000 out of anywhere has it's complications. Now remember on Sundays businesses in DT are mostly closed. After the games you can make 1 way flowing all out of Downtown. This would be worked out in it planning stages after approval but a concepot that does work, Let's take another Calif weather city for comparsion. SF has 7 public transportation to get into the stadium on Gamedays. We see  on Padres dodgers 44000 leave Petco on a sat night. 29,000 leave the Gaslamp. That's your NFL crowd on a Sunday. Easy? No doable YES. I wished I had more time to discuss the issues that you bring up at the debate but time was limited and I grew frustrated with the misinformation that takes away from having a true honest discussion., Look forward to talking to you bout the plan anytime. Let's remember I'll bring one to you. Homeless another issue that should be addressed.Thanks for commenting 

    Chuck Wilcox
    Chuck Wilcox

    Is there a video of transcript of the debate?

    Thomas Powell
    Thomas Powell

    @Chuck Wilcox I ahve the video but was sent through Facebook. IT not my thing but if I could change it to email no matter what side your on I'd be happy to get it to you