Qualcomm Stadium, current home of the San Diego Chargers. Photo via Wikimedia Commons
Qualcomm Stadium, current home of the San Diego Chargers. Photo via Wikimedia Commons

Former Padres owner John Moores gave $45,000 to the signature-gathering effort for a wide-ranging initiative meant to boost downtown San Diego tourism and redevelop the Qualcomm Stadium property in Mission Valley, it was announced today.

The initiative, which would go on a ballot next year provided enough signatures are collected, would raise the city’s hotel room tax to 15.5 percent to pay for tourism promotion. It would also fund an alternative plan to expand the San Diego Convention Center, that doesn’t include the contiguous floor space desired by area tourism officials.

The proposed measure also encourages the use of the Qualcomm Stadium property for a park and a possible west campus for San Diego State University.

Several of the provisions would grease the skids toward moving a potential new stadium for the Chargers away from Mission Valley and toward downtown. Moores’ JMI Realty helped build Petco Park and has real estate interests in downtown San Diego.

“People have strong feelings about all of these issues,” Moores said in a statement released by the campaign.

“But 50 years from now, the choice to provide open space and transit- dependent university use of Mission Valley will be the compelling legacy of this generation of San Diego leaders,” Moores said. “I hope that my decision to help will encourage folks to set aside whatever other differences they may have and get it done.”

While he owned the Padres, Moores was a major SDSU financial supporter. The school has been eyeing the 166-acre Mission Valley property of the current stadium for years as an expansion site, which presumably could include a smaller playing facility for the Aztecs football team.

The Chargers have been asking for a new stadium for years, and are one of three franchises the National Football League are considering for a move to Los Angeles. The city and county of San Diego have proposed a new stadium on the Qualcomm property in an effort to keep the Chargers in town.

In the statement, Moores said he met with Mayor Kevin Faulconer last week and came away convinced that he could help the initiative without weakening the mayor’s bargaining position with the NFL.

Lawyer Cory Briggs, who created the Citizens Plan for the Responsible Management of Major Tourism and Entertainment Resources, said he hoped to collect around 75,000 signatures. The signature-gathering effort began last week.

— City News Service