Chargers Announce Plan to Focus on Constructing New Downtown San Diego Stadium

Tyler Conway@jtylerconwayFeatured ColumnistFebruary 24, 2016

Dec 24, 2015; Oakland, CA, USA; San Diego Chargers president Dean Spanos reacts during an NFL football game against the Oakland Raiders at Coliseum. The Raiders defeated the Chargers 23-20 in overtime. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

The Chargers laid out their plan for staying in San Diego on Tuesday, releasing a statement saying they will seek voter approval via a citizens' initiative in November for a downtown stadium.

"We believe that a downtown multiuse facility will attract broad support from throughout our entire community," the statement read. "And we hope that, as our downtown proposal is developed and as the campaign for passage begins, those who have supported the Mission Valley site will keep an open mind and consider supporting what we believe is the best way to secure a permanent home for the Chargers in San Diego."

In theory, a push for the citizens' initiative will help the Chargers bypass many bureaucratic processes that typically go into approving a stadium. As noted by David Garrick of the San Diego Union-Tribune, a citizens' initiative was the way plans for sites in Carson and Inglewood were approved, with the latter city being the future host of the Los Angeles Rams.

By securing the citizens' support, the Chargers' plans would not be subject to an environmental impact report. In August, the city of San Diego released an EIR for the initial plans for a new stadium at the current Qualcomm Stadium site.   

The location of a new stadium has been one of the most contentious points in the Chargers' negotiations with city officials. Kevin Acee of the San Diego Union-Tribune reported Tuesday that the city desired a stadium in Mission Valley, which is about eight miles outside downtown San Diego.

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While the distance to Mission Valley is nowhere near as onerous as the San Francisco 49ers' move to Santa Clara, the Chargers decided to push their initiative for a downtown stadium.

The team explained its decision in its statement:

The multiuse facility, when combined with Petco Park, the existing Convention Center, the Gaslamp Quarter, and a revitalized East Village, would create an unparalleled entertainment and sports district that will host Super Bowls and will ideally be a permanent home for Comic-Con and a Comic-Con museum. All of our research demonstrates that voters are more likely to approve a multi-use facility that would generate economic activity on hundreds of days per year, including by attracting major sporting and convention events that San Diego cannot now host.

In any case, the Chargers don't have a losing situation here. They're locked into an agreement to join the Rams in Los Angeles and have until January to make a final decision. There's no reason for the team to compromise; it's going to be playing in a new stadium regardless. Pushing the plan forward with a citizens' vote simply gives the Chargers an easy out if their downtown proposal gets nixed in November.

Follow Tyler Conway (@jtylerconway) on Twitter.