For years, the San Diego Chargers have insisted that public money wouldn’t be used to pay for a new stadium for the team. Now, as the team looks to downtown San Diego, the amount of public money available for the project appears to the centerpiece.
In fact, it’s so important that the city’s downtown redevelopment agency, which would potentially help finance the project, needs more money than it can get. A stadium cannot happen, a Chargers official said, without a complex and politically challenging effort to increase the amount of money the agency can collect.
“It’s an issue that must be resolved before a stadium could move forward,” said Mark Fabiani, the Chargers special counsel leading the stadium search.
State law caps the amount of money that redevelopment agencies can accumulate before they expire. The Centre City Development Corp., the city-run downtown redevelopment agency, expects to have $386 million left in available tax revenues to build new projects downtown, including parks, fire stations, sidewalks and streets. And it already has plans for that money.
A stadium, which could cost between $750 million to $1 billion, is unlikely to fit into downtown redevelopment plans unless the agency can increase the amount of money it can collect. CCDC Chairman Fred Maas, who is also the mayor’s point man for the stadium effort, said a new stadium wouldn’t jump ahead of other plans the agency has downtown. Maas said it is too soon to address specific stadium financing plans, but that the city must look at increasing the cap — with or without the Chargers.
“The cap discussion needs to happen irrespective of the stadium,” Maas said.