I walked around downtown on a Comic-Con evening in July. It isn’t like any other convention you see; thousands of people, dressed up and dressed down, were roaming the Gaslamp and having a great time. It’s cool to live in a place that people pay to visit, and the events they attend can be world-class fun for us too. There were Comic-Con-related venues everywhere – in bars, museums, parking lots – not just on one convention center floor. No convention center floor, no matter how large, could have accommodated this carnival. It was so, um, non-contiguous.

Later, I went to Philadelphia for the Democratic National Convention. Philly may be one of our great cities, but when the heat index is 108, traffic is backed up and you have to walk a mile – yes a mile – from the car drop-off to the remote basketball venue, maybe not so great. It was pretty obvious to me in that cab and that heat that with San Diego’s weather, and with the proximity of our hotels and our restaurants to our meeting spaces, we have the makings of a one-of-a-kind events destination.

The idea we have long had to keep ourselves competitive as a convention destination is to expand the current convention center floor to create more contiguous convention space. And it’s not surprising that when the convention center surveys their existing customers, those customers say they want more space.

I was a warrior for the contiguous expansion. When I was Port chairman in 2011, we got a unanimous vote from all five port cities to contribute $60 million to help finance the expansion of the convention center. I lobbied the Coastal Commission, where I once served, for its approval. And I stood my ground when the then owners of the Union-Tribune urged me to switch my support to a non-contiguous combined convention center-stadium. I told them I would back the position of the Port. A combined facility might be a good Plan B, I acknowledged, if the contiguous plan became infeasible.

And that’s what happened.

A lawsuit blew up the financing plan because it required a two-thirds vote of the people, not just hotel owners. Now there is significant political opposition to ceding more waterfront to development. The $575 million contiguous expansion cost estimate was derived without engineering drawings, is wildly out of date and depends on a $200 million guarantee from the city’s general fund. There has been no accounting for the lost profits the convention center would incur from closing over 200,000 square feet for two years during phased construction or for the increased costs of operating a larger facility; that means that our current annual subsidy of $3.4 million from the city’s general fund will have to increase! (By the way, is it fair that the general fund pays this subsidy instead of the hotels that profit from the public’s investment in the convention center, when those hotels are assessed some of the lowest tourist taxes in the nation?)


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

Mayor Kevin Faulconer apparently recognized the futility or foolishness of the contiguous expansion when he pulled back his own proposal for an increase of visitor taxes to 15.5 cent to fund the contiguous expansion. But with an increase of just a penny more, we have an alternative that better competes in today’s market for conventions, keeps our football team, moves our downtown bus yard to less precious real estate and frees up Mission Valley for parks and educational uses. We should seize the opportunity.

The project is 385,000 square feet of leasable space: a 130,000 square foot exhibit hall; 100,000 square feet of stadium event-level, column-free exhibit space; 63,000 square feet of ballroom space and 80,000 square feet of meeting rooms. Since it is both a stadium and a convention center, VOSD has aptly coined the term “convadium.”

The leading experts on the market for conventions, including Hunden Strategic Partners and Conventional Wisdom (the very same experts used by the San Diego Convention Center itself to gauge the market for the last expansion), say that the trend in the industry is “pursuing and hosting numerous overlapping or back-to-back mid-sized conventions … in contrast to the prior ‘space race’ where cities have attempted to lure the few largest conventions. … Cities like San Francisco, Seattle and Indianapolis – all successful convention cities – have adjusted their focus to filling the calendar with consistent medium-sized conventions that can occur simultaneously or back-to-back. Convention centers today and their major hotel partners have recognized that having a ‘two piston’ convention engine, where one mid-sized show is occurring while another moves in or out, is more likely to lead to consistently full-hotels.” That is exactly how the convadium, to be programmed by the same people who book the convention center, would complement our existing facility. And we would also have the flexibility to book really major events that would use both the convention center and the convadium.

Look what happened in Minneapolis when it replaced its old football stadium with a new one, in exactly the same place. The city realized over $1.2 billion in office and hotel development leading up to the opening (all within three blocks of the stadium), and have $700 million in direct and indirect economic benefits in major bookings secured before the building opened. And that’s just a stadium, not a convadium. San Diego is looking at 200,000 additional hotel room nights annually, with new tax revenues of $125 million in the first 10 years solely because of the project.

Given its returns, the convadium project makes much more economic sense than building a stadium alone, particularly using $200 million from city general funds and $150 million from the county, as proposed by Faulconer and Supervisor Ron Roberts. In San Diego, we have traditionally agreed that convention space that will generate revenue is worthy of taxpayer support. The convadium financing is built to protect the general fund and to impose the cost on visitors. To the extent we generate more tourism tax revenues, we generate more general fund dollars, because of each 16.5 cents of tourism tax revenue, 4 cents goes to fund the project, 2 cents goes to tourism marketing and 10.5 goes directly to the general fund. The general fund also gets all the excess dollars from the new tourism taxes (the 4 cent part) that are not needed to pay for the convadium; these should be significant based on historic growth trends.

For the sake of constructive decision-making, let’s set aside the scare tactics.

Comic-Con has not said that it is leaving if we build the convadium, or staying if we expand contiguously. I am skeptical that it would leave San Diego at all, because San Diego is a star of its show, and it just bought three buildings here. All that aside, if we build additional space and gave Comic-Con total control over it during its events, it will be better off than it is today.

There is significant protection for the general fund. The project is not free from risk, but even the city’s independent budget analyst agrees that the hotel revenues generated by the convadium will cover the estimated costs. She doesn’t vouch for the estimates themselves, but there are large cushions against overruns. The city took calculated risks that Petco Park would generate sufficient private development to cover the public contribution, and it did. This project contains at least the same level of assurance.

This project is not “giving money to a billionaire.” It’s a public-private partnership in which both sides should contribute and both should expect benefits. I understand that the $650 million contribution from the owner and the NFL is one of the largest of its kind. San Diegans should vote based on the convadium’s benefits and economic returns for San Diego, not on animosity toward billionaires or any particular one.

Finally, why downtown? Well, that was our plan when we also conceived of Petco Park in the 1990s. In fact, at the suggestion of John Moores, we zoned the East Village to accommodate a football stadium more than 50 percent larger than the proposed convadium. And if we want this facility to be more than a football stadium – a convention center and public amenity with synergistic proximity to other meeting spaces, hotels, restaurants, bars, etc., it HAS to be downtown.

Rob Quigley and other architects argue that this is not the place for a football stadium. They offer small-scale alternatives that will never generate the financing to move the bus yard that is in the way of their own plans, let alone generate the entertainment or economics of the convadium. No place is the perfect place for a stadium, a convention center or a convadium, but from the region’s perspective, downtown is the best place for that kind of intensity. Before us is a credible plan to turn a bus yard in a prime location into a gainful regional asset, and to free up Mission Valley for parks and educational or economic development. We need our design community to lead a discussion about how to fashion the facility so that it fits and enhances its downtown neighborhood and the surrounding communities – that’s what architects do all the time with all kinds of sites.

In Baltimore, Houston and Cleveland, people said that they never really believed that their football team would leave until the day they left. Those cities all spent way more to replace their teams than it would have cost to hold on to them. If we lose the Chargers to Los Angeles – while retaining our bus yard with the prized location and a crumbling historic and soon-to-be unused publicly owned football stadium – our elected leaders may assert a triumph of the people over corporate greed. But that’s wrong. If we fail to make the most of today’s opportunity, it will be a colossal failure of imagination and civic and political leadership. And a huge hit to the city we love.

Scott Peters is a congressman representing California’s 52nd District.

    This article relates to: Chargers Stadium, Convadium, Must Reads, Opinion

    Written by Opinion

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    66 comments
    Elmer Walker
    Elmer Walker subscriber

    San Diego has given so much to the employees in exorbitant salaries and benefits that there is not enough left for infrastructure. The Cities solution is to add new taxes or to increase the existing ones. This is a solution for people who aren't forward thinking and just rely on the past. We need new blood with new ideas.  

    Jennifer Greenhall
    Jennifer Greenhall

    Wow, Scott Peters, I believe I've voted for you in every election you've been in since I moved to San Diego in 1997. What a huge mistake on my part! You've obviously been bought off during your years in public office. The Chargers' plan is a horrible idea for downtown San Diego, for the conventions that come here, and for the people who live and pay taxes in San Diego. It's so obviously a disaster that I was shocked you chose to write this article and expose yourself for the corrupt politician you've become. The owners of the Chargers have shown NO LOYALTY to San Diego. They do not care about our city one bit. They only care about their own pocket books. The Convadium will destroy downtown. I can safely say that I will never vote for you again. I urge anyone who loves this city to vote against every politician who supports this plan for the rest of their careers. I won't forget.

    Caroline McKeown
    Caroline McKeown

    Here we are with a crumbling infrastructure and city-wide park deficiencies and one of our elected officials wants to build a billion dollar occasional-use park for a bunch of millionaires to give eachother brain injuries instead of building much-needed parks for our inner-city children to play in. Messed up priorities.

    Joan Lockwood
    Joan Lockwood

    Yes!  We have become so partisan that we can't focus anymore.  Or o the term unfocus on ourselves and our special interest.


    Our priorities show in a walk downtown..no matter what we are saying   It shows!  Take a walk downtown Todd Gloria my "representative"


    There are no secrets 

    shawn fox
    shawn fox subscriber

    This article is poorly written.  To convince us that it isn't a giveaway to a billionaire, you'll have to do better than that.  Create a spreadsheet with the costs of building the stadium plus the annual operating costs once it is operational.  Then show the estimates of income generated by the events in order to show exactly how the bonds will be paid down quickly, and the annual expenses will be covered.  The economic impact number is a useless number.  That doesn't indicate how much actual revenue is gained that will be applied to stadium costs.  Look, I love football.  I would love for us to keep the chargers.  However, the independent assessments typically show a net cost to taxpayers for all of these deals across the country.  That has been the conclusion by the VOSD reporters who have told us for years that raising taxes is the only way  to make these deals work.  Whatever the billionaire doesn't have to pay for goes into bloated player salaries or other expenses.  The public-private partnership is clearly a much better deal for him than it is for taxpayers.  That isn't limited to San Diego.  It is true everywhere.

    Bob Stein
    Bob Stein subscriber

    “Stay Classy San Diego”

    One way to divide San Diego is into those who think Ron Burgundy was serious when he said, “stay classy,” and those who believe Will Farrell’s 2004 movie script was a send-up. 

    For the second group, the line was pure irony, built on the recognized dopiness of small town TV newscasters, and probably, given Farrell’s roots, some familiarity with non-tourist touted San Diego.

    My guess is Chargers Plan Measure C voters break down along similar lines. 

    There are those who will vote yes because they believe spending billions of dollars (including interest) for a downtown football stadium is “classy.”  They see this “big idea” as an affirmation of the success of their city because they’ve been told for decades by leaders, like Scott Peters, and the Chamber of Commerce and sports friendly news media, like the UT, that stadiums are what “classy” looks like.   

    They don’t get Farrell’s joke. Mostly, I’d guess, because they’ve had little exposure to life outside the “region,” and can’t imagine downtown San Diego isn’t the myth its developers have created about it in order to sustain their control over it.  Or that turning downtown into an amusement park isn’t a “big idea.” 

    Then there are those who’ve travelled beyond the mental or physical boundaries of San Diego.  Who would agree, as Peters writes, “[That] it’s cool to live in a place that people pay to visit, and the events they attend can be world-class fun.”  But who also realize Comic Con is just one of hundreds of big conventions held throughout America, most much larger, and fad-driven entertainment is neither a business on which to build a broad economic future for all citizens or smart collateral for a 30 year loan.

    These San Diegans have been to places like Philadelphia -- and New York, London, Paris or Tokyo – and know, unlike Peters, that it’s faster, easier and more comfortable, especially in July heat, to make your way around by easily accessed air-conditioned bus, trolley or subway. 

    They also understand walking a mile(!) is what life in real cities – those built up, not out; and organized around people, not cars -- is about.  They’re identical to hikers in this regard.  They walk to experience  their surroundings and not, as Peters grumbles, out of annoyance or necessity.

    Team owners like Spanos and shills like Peters have a vested interest in keeping you believing a downtown stadium is a “big idea” that keeps San Diego “classy.”  My guess is anyone who really knows big, knows there are few things smaller or more limiting than the thinking guys like these are bringing to the future of our downtown.

    Phillip Franklin
    Phillip Franklin subscriber

    @Bob Stein Very well put.  San Diego is a hard city to understand because it is made up too many small town rubes.  They are so easily conned it is hard for the con men like Spanos and Scott Peters and so many others who came before not to take advantage of them.   It's just another chapter in the history of Enron by the Sea.  You would have honestly thought the people in this city would have learned something by now. But so many of the rubes here are not unlike Homer Simpson.  Lovable but not very smart.  Can I hear you say - "Monorail"?

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xhpO_WcR_jE

    Phillip Franklin
    Phillip Franklin subscriber

    Congressman Peters  you obviously took the time to write what you thought was a convincing argument to the voters of San Diego on why this new $1.8 billion r would be good for them.  Quite of few people here have brought up excellent commentaries as to why its a horrible idea.  So far you have showed zero courage as to even respond to one of them.  You after all are the congressman representing my district.  And you have taken to VOSD to voice an important position.  However it seems you can't respond to even one criticism  of which there are so many.  And most of them are quite logical.


    I will assume that your inability or unlikely desire to respond proves that you are just a typical congressman that has become more a part of the problem in Washington than the solution.  And yes I have been a life long Democrat having worked for notable Democrats like former SF Mayor Moscone and  Senator Barbara Boxer way back when she was on the Marin County Board of Supervisors in the 1970's.

    Q2014
    Q2014 subscriber

    I agree with everything you wrote, and to add, I voted for Peters in the last election--He's now lost my vote come November.

    my2centz
    my2centz subscriber

    Even a cursory search on public/private projects shows a long history of over promising benefits and underestimating costs. Which make them fiscal white elephants.burdening the local government with millions of dollars in debt. Teams like the Chargers and the Rams think nothing of abandoning them or demanding new facilities long before the old ones are paid off. This one is no different. The public still owes 60 million on Qualcomm and the Chargers pay NO RENT. The city can't even afford to pay for the deferred maintenance of the existing stadium!!!! Measure C omits hundreds of millions of dollars in costs that the PUBLIC will have to bear. 


    The Convention center annex portion is a joke cooked up by Spanos. It is a second rate basement that will be restricted in use by the Chargers schedule. It originally was concocted to get redevelopment money by tying the two separate uses as one to qualify and make it appear to have public benefit instead of just being a football stadium.


    Mr Peters you are all over the place on this mentioning three different financing options proffered in the past. Do you even know what is going on? Yes the measure IS like giving a billion dollars to a billionaire The value of the team WILL increase by a billion after it would be completed. It is highly likely that the Chargers would be sold after Alex Spanos dies since the estate tax and the highly leverage debt will force them to sell all or part of the Chargers. We've heard all the cheerleading B.S. about pride and think big and vision and aren't buying it. Oh by the way the reason Petco was built downtown was that they could get redevelopment money from the state not your lame synergy analogy.


    I agree with Rob Quigley and others that the Convadium is poorly designed. Of course it is, there was NO PUBLIC INPUT and it only took three months to conjure up. Spanos is only interested in a stadium. He is not an architect or an urban planner. The short amount of time it took to dream up ensures that there would be many regrets. These projects take years to design properly. Unfortunately, Spanos does not have time and just needs a deal done. The NFL has been pushing like the world will come to an end if we don't fund a stadium RIGHT NOW. Sorry, folks we will be looking at this project long after Spanos has sold the team and pocketed the extra billion dollars. These kind of projects need to be scrutinized very carefully before sinking a BILLION plus dollars into them and the longer we look at it the worse it gets.



    San Diego's assets are the great weather, local beaches, proximity to Mexico, the friendly people and its relaxed atmosphere. We ARE thinking of the long term for San Diego and that means not squandering a valuable tax resource on a playground for the NFL and a second rate convention center annex.


    Cory Briggs
    Cory Briggs subscribermember

    Measure D, the Citizens' Plan, would set the top TOT rate at a competitive 15.5%.  At 16.5% under Measure C, the Chargers' proposal, TOT would not be the highest in the country.


    According to the HVS survey released just a couple days ago, with a TOT at 15.5%, San Diego would be tied for 31st place (with Los Angeles) among the 150 major tourism cities in the United States.  At 16.5%, San Diego would jump to 17th place.  The current rate of 12.5% has the city tied for 104th place.  Click below to see HVS's TOT table.


    Folks should also take a look at the San Diego County Taxpayers Association staff analysis of the Citizens' Plan, which points out, in the context of describing its recent analyses of proposals to raise the TOT, that "urban hotel demand is generally inelastic to changes in prices."  In other words, local demand for hotel rooms won't change much if the TOT rate goes up.  (The amount of money spent to market San Diego as a destination does have an impact on demand for rooms, however.)


    Lastly, it's worth keeping in mind that not long ago the politicians and hoteliers themselves proposed setting the TOT rate at 15.5% downtown to finance the waterfront expansion of the convention center, in addition to the 2% Tourism Marketing District tax that guests pay.  That means the effective hotel-tax burden on tourists would have been 17.5% if the politicians and hoteliers had their way and the courts hadn't stepped in.  At 17.5%, San Diego would have been tied for third place.

    Cory Briggs
    Cory Briggs subscribermember

    @my2centz @Cory Briggs Thanks for your comment.  I wasn't arguing for or against Measure C or D in my post (though you surely know my bias).  You are right that Measure D does not dictate how the new TOT revenues would be spent; all of them go into the general fund.


    I was only trying to infuse some facts into the commentary elsewhere on this page about where San Diego's TOT ranks now and would rank in the future under either ballot measure.

    Phillip Franklin
    Phillip Franklin subscriber

    @Cory Briggs First and foremost the demand curve for hotel rooms is quite elastic.  This is just analogous to common accepted economic price theory. And is proven by the most recent economic trends even in this city.  For example have you noticed there is not too much in the way of new hotel construction in this city?


    If the average price of San Diego hotel rooms were in line of the prices charged at a Holiday Inn in Missouri or Iowa or Chattanooga, Tennessee, or the other locations which your list reports  the highest at 17.5%,  this might not be of major concern to the future price structure for which this city must stay to be competitive with cities like Los Angeles and San Francisco and perhaps New York.  You see San Diego hotel rooms are already quite expensive before the tax.  The fact that San Diego may be a point lower than the highest room tax in the nation is of little or no consequence when the highest tax rate is on rooms which probably cost less than half of what those cost in San Diego to start.    If the prices of hotel rooms were so demand inelastic as you state then my guess is that the prices for a room in Chattanooga would be more in line of the prices charged in San Diego ... assuming one understands the true meaning of demand  price elasticity.  


    If what you say is true why not just raise the room tax to say 20% or 25% or more?   Wouldn't  it just bring in that much more tax revenue  to our city?  According to your logic and argument that hotel room pricing is inelastic than of course it would.  Thus problem solved right?  You see when one makes foolish arguments like yours and the good Congressman Peters it is best to challenge them with sound and well educated facts  ...  not political mumbo jumbo only designed to fool the masses  and idiots who will fall for anything with a shiny package that is sold as a free ride with out any cost what so ever to the tax payer.  


    As you can see Mr. Briggs from the overwhelming comments which have been posted here, not every one is stupid as the politicians like Congressman Peters and the Spanos clan would like them to be.  Yes, it is too bad that San Diego has too many uneducated fools who really think they can get something for nothing, but be aware at least here on this message board on VOSD you are going to have to be a little smarter and slicker than usual to fool everyone.  Not every one is a stupid as you may think.  And when you get a chance mention that to the good Congressman Peters who obviously only wants the best for San Diego and not himself.  I would mention that to him here, but I don't think he has the ability to read these comments since he has yet to respond to just one of them.

    FrontPorch
    FrontPorch subscriber

    @Cory Briggs @my2centz The most important fact Mr. Briggs mentioned is that San Diego has 149 competitors among major tourism destinations in the U.S.  That said, we ought to be extremely careful before we load up TOTs with extra burdens for tourists.  Mr. Briggs mentions that TOTs would have been higher under the earlier effort to increase them and use them for the waterfront plan and tourism marketing.  That also represented a kind of theft of taxpayer dollars for private use.  But two wrongs don't make a right.

    Ian Thurlow
    Ian Thurlow

    @Cory Briggs If your proposed measure passes, will it overrule Measure C? Since Measure D caps the rate at 15.5%, does that mean the extra 1% hike from Measure C would be blocked?

    my2centz
    my2centz subscriber

    @Cory Briggs While your proposal prohibits measure d money to be spent on a convention center or a stadium it does little to regulate where the money would go. I don't feel it is any better letting the city council decide what to do with this potential windfall since they have shown little discretion in the past. I am in favor of a comprehensive measure that would spell out where all the money would go. Therefore I feel that both measures should be voted down until public debate and input can be incorporated into any measure regarding these funds. There is no impending time constraint that necessitates passing either of these measures and there is far more at stake here which requires much more discussion and vetting of priorities and needs of the city. 

    Dean Plassaras
    Dean Plassaras

    Pure nonsense. Going big on stupid makes zero sense.

    Kenneth Thygerson
    Kenneth Thygerson

    It is sad that a Congressman with an intimate knowledge or our city has such a distorted and inaccurate view of San Diego's civic priorities. Among the more important priorities are funding our underfunded pension plans, (something Scott Peters is intimately familiar with and partially responsible for), offsetting years of neglected infrastructure spending, offsetting years of neglected spending on parks and recreation, and spending on the homeless.  Unless, of course, he plans to house the homeless in the plush boxes in a new stadium. 
    There is no value to his opinion piece.


    I understand that Scott Peters is someone who favors raising taxes whenever possible, but allocating them under a crony capitalism formula is not the way to get my vote.  He obviously thinks his district is safe.

    Truth Speaks
    Truth Speaks subscriber

    Yes we can do better.Its time for the city to think of the residents not just the special interests. For far too long th city has been held hostage to special  interests. Think about the past, think about the ticket guarantee ,think about the Liberty Station giveaway. Think about what will happen to views of the bay after Papa Doug gets his Broadway complex. Why do we squander our money and resources to make insiders rich time after time.

    We can do better .We can built our trolley system to more parts of the city, .We can provide municipal high sped internet to all home. ,We can provide citizens cheaper green power. We can think big and think smart .

    FrontPorch
    FrontPorch subscriber

    Just reading this rant on how we as a city and county will pay for this stadium makes me wonder whether I will vote for Mr. Peters in the future.  This is the real story:  For Congressman Peters' predicted outcomes to be true concerning successful repayment of bonds and production of ongoing revenue, every single speculation made by proponents of this scheme would have to be 100% correct.  If ANYTHING went wrong -- if the economy took a dip, if better hotel deals (made more competitive by lower occupancy fees) drove conventions elsewhere, if emergencies born of nature or other causes put pressure on our general fund, if cost overruns and overlooked operational expenses violated the published cost of this structure -- the taxpayers would be on the hook.  Sunshine and ocean are not enough to make San Diego a paradise.  We have to take care of our city and the people who live and work here.  We can't even afford to do that, so it is inexcusable for Congressman Peters to use his stature to urge San Diegans to foot the bill for Mr. Spanos' profits.  If this is such a good deal for the football team, let Mr. Spanos issue the bonds and ask private investors to take the risk on this deal.

    Kevin Ring
    Kevin Ring

    Dear Congressman Peters,


    I am sorry to say this as I have been a supporter of yours for many years, but you are dead wrong. You are pushing an idea that is going to do far more harm than good. If you are trying to lose my vote, this is the way to do it. Please reconsider your stance as it is absolutely the wrong thing for San Diego. Omar Passions put it far better than I could, so I will not reiterate his points here. Rather, I will ask you to re-read his post as many times as it takes for you to realize that the "convadium" is simply not an option. This is not a big thing. It is, however, a big waste. I trust you will see the light and change your stance. You're better than this.

    Daniel Westrick
    Daniel Westrick

    I am glad that the Congressional seat in my district is held by a Democrat, but I really wish that Democrat was not Scott Peters.  Peters has never seen a developer giveaway he didn't like. He is the very definition of a Development Stooge.  

    Bill Bradshaw
    Bill Bradshaw subscribermember

    So now we have two more arguments against the Convadium.  The Chargers are making meaningless promises to "fight" to keep rents low in the surrounding area and now Scott Peters, one of the" infamous eight" on the city council who created the pension crisis has come out for it.  All the signs are there, boys and girls, this is a boondoggle of gigantic proportions, lacking in key details that will cost taxpayers a bundle.    

    my2centz
    my2centz subscriber

    @Bill Bradshaw Right Bill these measures are just two big turds in the toilet that need to be flushed asap. Before they stink up the place and leave the city with a mountain of debt.

    tarfu7
    tarfu7 subscribermember

    Wow... really, Scott? This is very disappointing.

    g kelly
    g kelly

    A politician can never have too many rich friends. 

    The goal here is to give the Spanos family a stadium with enough luxury boxes to maximize revenue for the team. The rest is smoke and mirrors. The present stadium is adequate for every other purpose, and it does not generate enough revenue to pay for its own maintenance. Building a new stadium for the Chargers would only re-create this situation at greater cost. It is illusory and simplistic to think that more people would attend games if they were played at a new stadium.

    Rob Quigley is right that this is not an optimal location for a stadium that will only be used for 7-8 games a year. The plan does not include adequate parking to support other events OR the Chargers games, freeway access is poor, and any new stadium should be built in a location where access is better, land is less expensive and room for adequate parking is available.

    The idea that the convadium would add value as a satellite of the convention center is also illusory. It would not function well as convention space, it is too far from the present facility to function well as a part of it, and there are not enough large conventions to warrant building an expensive facility to house them.

    Judith Swink
    Judith Swink subscriber

    @g kelly As a friend, who has been a vendor at the Convention Center during his career, pointed out just the other day, how many people are likely to make the trip over to the Convadium and how many vendors assigned space there are going to be very unhappy at not enjoying the traffic to their booths that others will receive in the main convention center venue? He's certain there would be a good number of very unhappy convention event vendors if assigned space 'over there'.

    Michael Richards
    Michael Richards

    If only all of these redevelopment projects could have the component of leaving Seaport Village and the Park area untouched. I walked the Harbor area this weekend. I saw on of the largest car count Vintage Car Shows I have seen in a long time in a fantastic setting. I walked the promenade, I ate at Anthony's, yes ANTHONY'S, not some stainless steel and glass monstrosity. We also walked thought, had a drink and an snack, and probably spent 250 bucks in Seaport Village. Which, is pretty much what we do every single time we come to the Harbor. The Harbor "leader: seem intent on turning the entire area into some bastardized version of a seaport like you would see in Dubai. Excise the historic look, excise the quaint look, bulldoze it down, back up the stainless steel boys, lets start making this look like a Star Trek set. Why in the HELL isn't there room for both in the area?? I will never go to a wave pool set by the ocean, I will never go up in a giant tower, a modern "shopping, restaurant, and entertainment venue" instead of the quaint appeal of Seaport, or the relaxing feel of the park. I CAN'T be the only one that will pack up the car, and my wallet, and go somewhere else. Blend the new WITH the old, If you developers can't figure out a way to do that, your skills and creativity are sadly lacking.

    Tim Doscher
    Tim Doscher

    @Michael Richards you have a really good point.  its kinda like cars, when they are new everyone thinks they are the coolest, when they are a few generations old they get thrown away, then after another generation or two you miss them and they are considered classics.


    i think even more than seaport village, san diego has some pretty amazing diversity that would be a real loss if it all looked and felt the same.

    Jennifer Spencer
    Jennifer Spencer subscriber

    Thank you Rob Quiqley.  "Rob Quigley and other architects argue that this is not the place for a football stadium."

    Who gives a rat's ass whether the Chargers stay or go.  Let them pay for their own stadium and buy their own land.  Then they will definitely be paying the proper taxes to support San Diego.

    If the Chargers want to stay in San Diego, let them pay for their own stadium and be good citizens.  Enough of this convadium nonsense. 

    Bill Stoops
    Bill Stoops

    Government has no role in supporting or opposing any private enterprise, as government's role should be limited to protecting individual rights from threats of force and fraud, and nothing beyond that.  If whomever owns the land the Spanos organization wants to build on is a willing lessor or seller, then the deal goes through.  If a government function "owns" it already, then it should be disposed of as an improper government activity. Government has no role in favoring one type of business over another, and once it begins doing so, we have the interference we see throughout the country in market driven solutions to supply and demand situations.  Let value for value driven individuals make the decisions, not pandering politicians or people with no financial interest in the deal.

    Echo5Juliet
    Echo5Juliet subscribermember

    This op-ed is nothing more than Scott Peters shilling for re-election money from pro-stadium interests, namely Spanos and union labor (building trades).

    There are numerous studies showing how bad of a financial deal Stadiums are for cities and taxpayers. Who is on the hook in this deal if game attendance and PSLs drop? Taxpayers, not Spanos and the NFL. The plan being pitched is all roses and positive forecasting...until realities like recessions or fan preferences change. In 15 years I'd wager a significant shift away from NFL to MLS may occur. Why build for a sport that may fade? It's already trending downward.

    San Diego is a battleground. It's not just Spanos battling for his football franchise. It is the NFL battling to maintain the precept that cities *need* NFL teams and that taxpayers need to subsidize them. They are protecting their access to other people's money, our tax money. If we beat them here they may never hoodwink another city to pay for a stadium again. A trillion-dollar sports league, that is also a non-profit entity (if that alone doesn't make you ill) doesn't want to have to start paying for its own stadiums.

    Not only do we need to vote NO on PropC, after this op-ed I think Peters needs to be re-introduced to the real workforce by voting him out of office. Of course he'll just become a lobbyist, hardly real work as most of us know it. Either way, he's advocating his own interests here, not ours.

    my2centz
    my2centz subscriber

    @Echo5Juliet Reading it makes me think that he had someone else write for him, or is he really that dumb?

    Tim Doscher
    Tim Doscher

    I love San Diego, and having grown up here during the days when my parents drove through the gaslamp and urged us kids to lock our doors because it was not the safest neighborhood, I am so grateful to be able to live downtown and experience everything is has become.  The chargers have been with us a long time, and my best memories go back to ralph bernashcke (sp?), dan fouts and those days, I am really excited about the chance for the chargers to come down town.  I love living down here, I love the people and I love the visitors.  Every time I can get away from work there is always something fun and new happening downtown.  I know that this has not been the easiest path and without controversy, but it would be great to make this work down here.  For all of the people that persevered to make san diego downtown what it is today, I thank you.  I hope people with vision, even though it has a big price tag, will keep pushing ahead and try to get this to come together.  If we can do this as a city there will be a lot of enjoyment, both for us residents as well as the amazing visitors that come to visit each year.


    After reading some of the posts, I just realized that I may be one of the few san diego natives to attend comicon when it was at the scottish rite temple in mission valley.  who would have ever thought it would have grown to what it is today.  the only other event that I attended there with any regularity was the computer shows about 15 years ago.  If I remember correctly it was in 1984-1985 range.  


    Although I would really like to see the stadium downtown, it seems like maybe we too often "punt" (lol) our responsibilities to others, whether elected officials, businessman or others that are more vocal.  There seems to be some really positive dialogue on this discussion on other areas that we could improve San Diego.  Some really good points, I wish we could embrace them all.

    Judith Swink
    Judith Swink subscriber

    @Tim Doscher Are you aware that ComicCon has been clear that they have no interest whatsoever in a non-contiguous venue like the Convadium?

    Janet Shelton
    Janet Shelton subscriber

    A lot of big ideas are bad ideas.  This is one of them.

    Desde la Logan
    Desde la Logan subscriber

    Should I have expected any different from the biggest sellout amongst the local democratic congressional delegation?

    Barry Vague
    Barry Vague

    Mr. Peters, a talented politician states..."But with an increase of just a penny more". Where is the list of what the citizens of San Diego really want and need? Mr. Peters, a penny for your thoughts.

    wadams92101
    wadams92101 subscriber

    So much misinformation in this op-ed, E.g., Stadiums do not benefit local economies, ( http://news.stanford.edu/2015/07/30/stadium-economics-noll-073015/ ) Comic-con, has stated its strong preference for a contiguous convention center (in no less prominent place than the inside cover of its program this year), and the East Village Focus Plan is not "small-scale alternatives that will never generate the financing to move the bus yard"  - it produces $20 million in development impact fees ( a Convadium produces zero DIF) not to mention much higher property tax and payroll tax revenue - all without looting the public till for $650 million plus convention and infrastructure overruns. Some of that data is in the East Village Focus Plan itself and comes from USD economist Norm Miller. http://sandiego.urbdezine.com/2016/08/02/downtown-san-diegos-east-village-south-focus-plan-draft/  Diversion of public funds for billionaire pet projects, which produce little economic benefit, does not put San Diego in the big leagues - it puts it in that sorry class of unsophisticated cities that bankrupt their future. Even Peters's reference to the Spanos commissioned Humden study - which runs contrary to four independent studies - points to the question of whether we should be building convention facilities at all with public funding and producing low wage jobs that require further public subsidies for the working poor.  Cities are courting smaller conventions because there is a national glut of convention space - all running operational deficits.  The private sector is capable of building smaller convention facilities on its own -as can be seen in the new facility at Hyatt Harborside.  Peters - you helped create the pension crisis now you want to help create another financial crisis? His 

    Omar Passons
    Omar Passons subscribermember

    It pains me to type this because I really like and respect Congressman Peters, but this opinion piece reveals something that we must as San Diegans stop allowing to happen. A major public investment is not a "big thing" in any good sense of the term merely because it is expensive or will result in a large structure.  I was born and raised in this town. And after living in four other states I am certain we can be great. But it won't come on the heels of allowing ourselves to continually be handed our choices of what to care about and why.  The children and youth of San Diego struggle to thrive because we don't invest in them. Our young adults could be seizing the tremendous opportunities that blue tech, IT, health care, and a range of careers that don't require four year degrees could provide but can't because we choose to spend political capital on big projects that we pretend are big ideas.


    A football stadium or convadium or whatever we might call it is not a big idea. It's an old, tired idea that has proven in every single city that's tried it to be a bad deal for the members of the community, except the select few who get short-term jobs as a result. And of course the Billionaires who own the football team that gets its house built virtually for free.  We should all be so lucky.


    Let's be clear. San Diego could choose to be the only city in the country with 0% youth unemployment. THAT would be a big thing. We could choose to make quality early care and education universally available across all incomes, which would improve both our current economy and our childrens' future educational success. THAT would be a big thing. We could commit to building 30,000 homes in all market brackets by relaxing needless and costly regulation and streamlining within 1.5 miles of major transit. THAT would be a big thing. We could stop cow-towing to regional planning agencies and form a Joint Powers Authority between San Diego, La Mesa and South Bay to bolster mass transit and connect our regional economy. THAT would be a big thing. We could fully fund actual homes for the homeless with a combination of apartment conversions and public-private-partnership construction that incentivized hundreds of units, not 2 or 3 at a time. THAT would be a big thing.


    We have real, meaningful challenges that would help all San Diegans regardless of what side of the 8 freeway they live on.  We should take those challenges seriously and not dismiss them as false choices. Everyone paying attention knows we can't raise taxes for everything and, in fact, many of these things are actual choices we must make.


    I have campaigned for Congressman Peters. He is smart, practical, and we share many of the same values. But when friends disagree about important things we can't be afraid to say so and explain why. Our city needs a new future and to chart a new course for what we'll be when our children grow up. Giving Spanos this stadium pushes back our ability to do that in favor of the same models that haven't worked for us in the past. We should commit to doing big things. This just isn't one of them.

    Micah Lenz
    Micah Lenz

    Great post, it's great to see respectful and well thought out reply. I almost completely agree with you.

    wadams92101
    wadams92101 subscriber

    @Omar Passons If I had read your comment before I wrote mine, I would have saved some time.  Excellent points!  It can't be said better. 

    lorisaldana
    lorisaldana subscriber

    @Omar Passons thank you Omar- didn't realize you were a fellow native! 

    Agreed: The future of great cities will be based on investing in people, not professional sporting events. 


    Give San Diegans access to education, technology, affordable homes and reliable public transit- then I'll be happy to talk about sports.

    Jeffrey Davis
    Jeffrey Davis subscribermember

    "From the region’s perspective, downtown is the best place for that kind of intensity". Yeah? There's very little that's lower intensity than a football stadium. Including convention use, the field would be used, what, 20 days out of the year? The place for *that* level intensity is... nowhere near your downtown.


    There is a much better "big thing" for San Diego to do. Expand the convention center onto Harbor Drive. Connect it with downtown and downtown with the waterfront. Heal the gash. Make downtown area campus-style events genuinely possible. That would be a "big thing" worth doing.

    Rob Quigley
    Rob Quigley

    It is not just Rob Quigley and a few architects who opposes the downtown location for our stadium, it is the entire American Institute of Architects with 900 members, many who are Charger Fans and season ticket holders.It is also every urban planner I have spoken to.


    We are now seeing the beginning of a co ordinated two month multi-billion dollar media attack to convince San Diegans that two decades of monolithic research showing that stadiums are money losers for their cities is not true.  This is the Ticket Guarantee, all over again.


    Mr. Peters, as well as most of our sports writers confuse (I am being kind) football stadiums and baseball parks.  Convention centers and ball parks can be designed to enhance growth in the surrounding area.  Petco is a good example.  Stadiums on the other hand are massive, inwardly oriented by definition, and are not urban catalysts.  That is why San Francisco, Los Angeles and even Phoenix put their stadiums in Mission Valley-like locations.  Use all of the architectural lipstick you like and it a NFL stadium is still a 4 1/2 block long monolithic wall in the middle of an important up and coming neighborhood with over 3000 residential units permitted or under construction.   Would you want the stadium 80’ from your house?  Google earth the Indianapolis stadium that the Chargers like to use as an example and see what a decade of “redevelopment” looks like.


    Lastly, no city has ever placed an NFL stadium adjacent to their Central Library.  You don’t have to be an architect or urban designer to know why.

    Tommy Wright
    Tommy Wright

    @Rob Quigley  This seems like a fair criticism - thx for sharing Rob. In looking at the downtown map, the area to the east of the proposed stadium is cut off by Interstate 5, so that monolithic wall isn't as concerning. To the north one of the high rise condo buildings is done, and the 2nd is starting, so those aren't at risk.  

    As a layperson, looking at a map of downtown, it seems like tucking the stadium in the bottom right corner of downtown next to the 5 would be the best place in downtown for the stadium. From a city planning standpoint, where would you suggest the best place downtown for the stadium is?