The Chargers announced Friday that they submitted nearly 110,800 signatures in support of its downtown stadium and convention center annex plan to the city of San Diego.
The total is well above the 66,000 or so needed to place the plan for a 61,500-seat facility in the East Village on the November ballot. The signatures will be verified over the next 30 days by the county registrar of voters to see if it qualifies for the general election.
In a statement, Chargers Chairman Dean Spanos thanked San Diegans who signed the petitions, along with representatives of organized labor and fan groups who helped with the signature drive.
“Most signature gathering efforts of this kind take six full months. We had just six weeks to complete our work,” Spanos said. “The fact that we were able to collect more than 110,000 signatures in that short period of time demonstrates tremendous support in our community for a new, combined stadium- convention center expansion downtown.”
Despite the large total, qualification is no slam dunk — an initiative regarding tourism issues that could also impact the stadium plan also had more than 100,000 signatures turned in, and the registrar’s office recently announced it needed to vet the names more thoroughly because it was in danger of not making the ballot.
If it does qualify and is passed by voters, the plan would raise funds for the project by increasing the hotel room tax to 16.5 percent, while the Chargers would chip-in $350 million and use a $300 million NFL loan.
The hotel room tax currently is 10.5 percent, plus a 2 percent fee used for tourism promotions, so the hike would effectively be four percentage points.
Voter approval of the plan is required because of the tax increase, but because of a recent court ruling, it’s unclear whether a simple or two-thirds majority will be required in November. Chargers officials said they will aim for two-thirds to be on the safe side.
Many city elected officials have come out against the Chargers plan because of its use of public funds. Mayor Kevin Faulconer, reelected to a full four-year term Tuesday, has not stated his position while his staff seeks more details from the team.
The Chargers have been asking for a Qualcomm Stadium replacement for more than 15 years. In January, NFL owners rejected their plans to build a playing facility in Carson jointly with the Oakland Raiders, after which Spanos announced he would give San Diego another try.
Spanos said he has an agreement in place to have the Chargers become the second team in a future Inglewood stadium with the Los Angeles Rams, if the San Diego effort falls through.
—City News Service