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A judge begins hearing a case next week on the legality of hotel room rate surcharges to pay for the proposed expansion of the convention center. Later, the Coastal Commission will decide if the expansion should go ahead. Mark Fabiani, Chargers flack, has told NBC7 that "If for any reason -- whether it's the court next week or the Coastal Commission in a few months -- the existing convention center expansion is stricken down, we would stand ready to present an alternative which would be a multi-use stadium with a retractable fabric roof on the East Village site, a couple blocks from the convention center." This idea is similar to the Farmers Field proposal that is stumbling in Los Angeles. NBC7 says Mayor Bob Filner would look favorably on such a proposal -- but Filner demands a public vote.

The NBC7 story is a good one, but, unfortunately, it doesn't look into the record of such multi-use stadiums/convention centers. They have not been successful in places such as Indianapolis, Atlanta, and St. Louis. One reason is convention attendees do not like to go from one building to another -- particularly go two blocks to another facility. Even traversing from the Moscone Center to Moscone West in San Francisco, right across the street from each other, annoys some conventioneers. Also, football stadiums and convention center floors are not good matches. "The flat floor space [of a convention center inside a stadium] is about 150,000 to 180,000 square feet," says Heywood Sanders, professor at the University of Texas San Diego, and the ranking expert on convention centers. "That's not very much space." Of course, convention centers are vastly overbuilt in the U.S. and centers, including San Diego, are slicing prices -- a very good reason that any expansion is a bad idea. Massive subsidization of a football stadium for a billionaire family is a horrible idea.

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aardvark March 8, 2013 @ 10:04 p.m.

Fabiani and the Chargers stand ready to present an alternate proposal? The surcharge, er, tax, has to ruled illegal before the Chargers show us their proposal? Show it now--what would it hurt? It's only been about 10 years or so--the team ought to have a plan they can show to the public by now.


Don Bauder March 9, 2013 @ 6:15 a.m.

aardvark: The Chargers have talked about this before. It appears that since there is a good chance the judge will rule that the plan to have hotel taxes pay for the center expansion without a public vote is not legal, the team figured it was time to roll out the cockamamie convention center/stadium scheme, which would require a massive subsidy, once again. Best, Don Bauder


aardvark March 9, 2013 @ 10:06 a.m.

Don--I know they have discussed this before, but instead of showing a picture (basically) of Qwest Field in Seattle superimposed over the East Village/busyard site, show the citizens of the area what they actually propose. Things like capacity of the stadium, how this great fabric roof will look open and closed, the cost of the stadium, how it will be financed--you know, just little things like that. Let's see their artist's renderings of what they propose. Of course, the big thing would be, how would it be financed, and who would pay what (and dare I say, how much the city would be stuck paying--and then, how much more they would have to pay after the rosy projections are found to not work, similar to Petco Park).


Don Bauder March 9, 2013 @ 1:09 p.m.

aardvark: During this long period of the Chargers trying to get a subsidized stadium, several times the team has claimed it spent big bucks planning for a stadium and adjoining real estate development, then has come forward with a silly plan that some architect spent an hour on. If the court thumbs down the convention center expansion, it will be interesting to see if the Chargers come up with any kind of rational plan. Best, Don Bauder


Burwell March 8, 2013 @ 10:45 p.m.

It might be cheaper to have Nassco construct a floating football stadium on a large barge. When not in use the floating stadium could be stored in Ensenada and transported as needed to San Diego Harbor by ocean going tugs.


Don Bauder March 9, 2013 @ 6:21 a.m.

Burwell: Great idea! I can already see the pitch that the downtown corporate welfarists will use: jobs! jobs!! jobs!!! First, look at those jobs at NASSCO to build the stadium on a floating barge! Look at the watchman jobs that would be created in Ensenada! Look at all those tug boat jobs necessary to tow the stadium to San Diego on game days! Best, Don Bauder


MURPHYJUNK March 9, 2013 @ 7:43 a.m.

If the voters ( taxpayers) got decide the plan would fail.

what percentage of san diego tax payers bother ( or can afford ) to go to the games?


Visduh March 9, 2013 @ 8:41 a.m.

Don't count on a sane response from the voters. Only a small percentage of the local electorate actually goes to games, usually because of the affordability issue, yet the local teams are "their" teams. You must also remember that whatever appears on the ballot will be promoted with massive disinformation as to what will really happen. The voters were massively misled in regard to the downtown baseball park, and many key assumptions that were imbedded never came to pass.

The Chargers are now getting desperate because the prospects of having a stadium in LA are fading fast. But keep in mind that much of this has to do with keeping the pot boiling, and that keeps the local fans stirred up and "supporting" the team. Of course, they're not supporting the team at all; they're letting their pockets be picked by the billionaire Spanos clan.


Don Bauder March 9, 2013 @ 3:35 p.m.

Visduh: Good points. San Diego voters were told prior to the 1998 vote on the ballpark that the project would be economically neutral -- that is, transient occupancy tax (TOT) receipts would pay for the bond service on the ballpark. Later, city bureaucrats admitted to the grand jury that they had been ordered by the Golding administration to juggle the books to make it appear the ballpark would pay for itself. Now, every year, the City of San Diego coughs up millions of dollars for Petco Park, which, voters were told, would never happen. Best, Don Bauder


Don Bauder March 9, 2013 @ 9:14 a.m.

Murphyjunk. One would certainly hope that San Diego voters would turn down this crazy scheme. Convention centers are overbuilt nationally and globally, and cutting prices to compete. It's high time that billionaire football team owners start putting their own money (not naming rights, ad rights, etc.) into stadiums. San Diego does not need a convention center expansion or a massively subsidized football stadium. However, keep this in mind: when begging for a subsidy, pro sports teams outspend the opposition by 100 to 1 or more. Today, it looks like San Diegans wouldn't fall for these ruses. But wait until the ads start flooding the airways... Best, Don Bauder


Don Bauder March 9, 2013 @ 1:12 p.m.

Murphyjunk: A small percentage of taxpayers actually goes to games -- greatly because the games are too expensive -- but even if fans only watch on TV, they put a lot of pressure on politicians. Best, Don Bauder


MURPHYJUNK March 11, 2013 @ 8:47 a.m.

and from recent news I see they are trying to sink their clammy meat hooks into the viewers pockets even deeper.


dwbat March 9, 2013 @ 8:24 a.m.

City Council President Todd Gloria said, in response to my question last September (http://www.sandiegoreader.com/news/20...) about the stadium: “It's going what's [to be] in the best interest for the city, both from a morale and financial standpoint. We are a big city, and we should have professional sports.” A little vague, I know. But I think it shows he's onboard with a new stadium.


Don Bauder March 9, 2013 @ 9:17 a.m.

dwbat: My answer to Todd Gloria is that San Diego is, indeed, a big city. It could prove to be a pioneering big city by telling the Chargers that if they want to build a stadium, that's fine. But if they want one nickel of public funds, they won't get it. Best, Don Bauder


laplayaheritage March 10, 2013 @ 4:37 p.m.

Currently San Diego is leaving an annual $80+ million on the table through the Hotelier- and City Council pre-approved 5 percent increase to our Hotel Taxes, because everyone is afraid to put the issue to a public vote which needs 2/3 public approval.

The private Hoteliers lack of cooperation to increase Hotel taxes for the benefit of all, is the reason we have such a low TOT rate compared to other big cities.

Hopefully after the Hotel tax increase lawsuits are thrown out, a discussion on the merits of increase our extremely low TOT for infrastructure and public improvements will happen.

Solution. Put the issue of increasing Hotel taxes to a public vote.Make the deal as sweet as possible for voters, and give environmentalist everything they want. Instead of 5 to 6 percent Hotel Tax Increase going to advertisement and the hotelier-only approved 5-acre Convention Center expansion; the legal 5 percent tax increase (annual $80 million) through a public vote could be used for advertisement, a 15-acre multi-purpose NFL Stadium and contiguous Convention Center expansion on our waterfront, or any other properly vetted infrastructure projects voted on by the public. Like a direct subway from downtown and the Old Town Trolley to the airport, by a full reclamation of our public tidelands.


Farmers Insurance promised $600 million for the naming rights to the proposed AEG downtown Los Angeles NFL Stadium and Convention Center expansion. Now that the LA project has been turned down by the NFL, San Diego coiuld get the same deal to invest the same $600 million just in private naming rights for a multi-use NFL Stadium and Contiguous Convention Center Expansion. After the Hotel taxes are deemed illegal this week, San Diego will not have the 1- to 3-percent Special Tax to pay for the $575 million Convention Center Phase III Expansion, and the 2 percent TMD to advertise San Diego as a world wide tourism destination.

In LA, the city taxpayers planned to pay for the foundation and off-site mitigation, with private AEG, Farmers Insurance, NFL, and private investors paying for the actual above-ground structure. Therefore, not one nickle of public funds for a NFL stadium in downtown Los Angeles. It can be done.

San Diego can get the same deal with the NFL declaring San Diego its West Coast Headquarters. Beautiful San Diego Bay is much more marketable than cramped downtown LA.

If you could write a deal in favor of the taxpayers, what would the ballot language say in order to get the 2/3 public vote?


Don Bauder March 10, 2013 @ 6:34 p.m.

laplayaheritage: The ballot language should tell the truth: a combined stadium/convention center would be a complete waste of taxpayer money. There is a surfeit of convention center space in the U.S.; centers including San Diego's are slicing prices. There is no need for an expansion. Similarly, a subsidized stadium for the Chargers is a public ripoff. If the Chargers want a stadium, they are free to pay for it. Best, Don Bauder


laplayaheritage March 10, 2013 @ 8:07 p.m.

Financially, do you think San Diego should increase the TOT 5 percent for public infrastructure/needs, or just leave the annual $80 in bascially free money on the table? How would the ballot be worded to get the 2/3 voter approval needed to increase Hotel taxes?


Don Bauder March 10, 2013 @ 10:08 p.m.

laplayaheritage: I believe San Diego could take that large a TOT increase. Not sure how the ballot should be worded -- not enough information. Best, Don Bauder


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