Hours after Mayor Kevin Faulconer endorsed a downtown football stadium, opponents of the $1.8 billion project ratcheted up their campaign against the San Diego Chargers‘ ballot measure.
Measure C opponents, including City Councilmen David Alvarez, Chris Cate and Scott Sherman, along with Councilman-elect Chris Ward and other civic leaders, criticized the initiative at an afternoon news conference on Monday.
“A lot of promises are being made by the Chargers and by others,” Alvarez said. “Talk is cheap — the only thing that matters is what’s on the ballot. That is the only thing that’s legally binding.”
He said Measure C contains “giveaway after giveaway after giveaway” to Chargers Chairman Dean Spanos, including limited public input on the project, the right to put up two electronic signs and large billboards, plus ancillary revenues like naming rights.
Cate said Spanos can come back to city leaders if Measure C passes and say that a deal is a deal.
Ward, who will represent the downtown and East Village area beginning in December, said his future constituents want the Chargers to stay in San Diego, “but not at all costs, not at the cost of investment in our communities.”
Measure C on the Nov. 8 ballot would raise San Diego’s hotel room tax to help pay for the project, which has an estimated price tag of $1.8 billion. The levy is currently 10.5 percent, with a separate 2 percent fee that funds tourism marketing. Measure C would raise the tax to a total of 16.5 percent.
The Chargers and NFL would kick in a combined $650 million toward the project. Team executives said the combined facility would not only result in a state-of-the-art football stadium, but space that could be used for around 300 days a year.
Tony Manolatos, a spokesman for Measure C opponents, said the plan is a “bad deal for San Diego.”
“It would divert more than $1 billion in new taxes to a stadium project and subsidize a NFL franchise worth more than $2 billion,” Manolatos said. “Anyone who says it’s a good deal for San Diego is more interested in politics than good public policy.”
The Chargers’ stadium plans have been endorsed by the Downtown San Diego Partnership, a coalition of property owners and business, and the San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce.
Early Monday, in an interview published in the San Diego Union-Tribune, Faulconer said he has decided to support the downtown stadium, saying Chargers executives agreed in writing to cover any cost overrides related to the construction or land purchases, guaranteed that the city’s general fund would not be used and, among other concessions, turn over to the city revenue generated from non-NFL events.
“Mayor Faulconer and his team carefully examined the initiative from every angle, weighing the opportunities and challenges for San Diego residents, businesses, and government,” chamber President and CEO Jerry Sanders said in a statement.
“The safeguards he negotiated will provide the protections our city needs so we can continue to create jobs and grow our economy,” Sanders said. “In this plan for a multi-use sports and convention complex, our community can accomplish two things — keep our NFL team in town, and drive progress in the East Village, downtown, and the entire San Diego region.”
City News Service contributed to this article.