Measure C goes to the ballot for a major vote

chargers-stadiumIf you have visited a grocery store in the past year in San Diego, you were probably approached by someone asking you to sign a petition. More likely than not, you were asked to sign a petition to add a plan to build a new stadium for the San Diego Chargers football team.

This November, voters will not only be deciding between two controversial presidential candidates, but also Measure C. The measure received strong public support to be put on the ballot. Now, voters will have to decide whether they will approve the building of a new stadium and a new convention center.

Despite what seems to be a very simple idea, to build a stadium or not, the measure is much more complicated. To figure out what the cost and benefits of the stadium would be, the city of San Diego asked for reports on the measure. The measure breaks down into several components.

Stadium Details:

Measure C has proposed that the new multi-use stadium and convention center expansion would be built in the East Village of downtown San Diego. The stadium would be located just east of Petco Park and be about a 10 minute walk from the current convention center.

The proposed stadium in Measure C is much more than just a football field. The stadium will be considered a multi-use stadium, advertised for use by football teams, motor sports, basketball, and others. The current plan would include 81,000 square feet of meeting space, 225,000 square feet of convention space, and a 65,000 square feet ballroom, making it the largest ballroom in the United States.

The Chargers have promised to give the city all revenue from non-NFL events and commit to staying until the initial debt of the project is fully paid off. The Chargers also agreed to reimburse the city for all preliminary costs if the team leaves San Diego before the construction begins. If the construction takes place, they will replace any parking areas the Padres would lose from the project.

Payment plan:

Much of the controversy around Measure C is how it will be paid for. The current plan, presented by the Chargers, would see a six percent hike in the hotel occupancy tax that would only apply to those renting for less than 30 days. The Chargers will be required to put up $650 million and sign a minimum 30 year lease. No San Diego residents will pay for the stadium through taxes, unless they stay in a hotel or rent a property for less than 30 days.

Although this is the proposed plan by the Chargers, critics are concerned about some of the payment eventually falling on San Diegans. The Chargers campaign for the new stadium is trying to dispel this claim, saying that the stadium will only be paid for by tourists, the team itself, and the NFL.

In support of Measure C:

The San Diego Chargers commissioned the Hunden Strategic Partners and the Conventional Wisdom Corporation for a report. The Hunden Report, as it is named, is a report in support of the measure and spans 16 pages.

The report showed that measure C would be the quickest plan to market for a new stadium. This means that the stadium and convention center would be open quicker than any previously proposed plan. The measure further stated that the the construction would not obstruct any activities already booked at the current convention center.

The report shared that the expansion would created 225,000 in annual room nights, resulting in an estimated $12.5 million in annual Transient Occupancy Tax (TOT) revenue. Room nights are the amount of nights visitors stay in a hotel room. For instance, if a visitor stays in a hotel room for three days and two nights, that would be counted for two room nights. TOT is a rental tax that is paid by those visiting an area for less than 30 days.

The report said that the new expansion would increase revenue over time, allowing multiple conventions and large-scale events to operate at once. The report stated that the separation of convention areas from the current convention center and the new stadium would be ideal for smaller conventions. In this way, smaller conventions would have the opportunity to be in their own separate space.

Against Measure C:

Multiple groups, including HVS Convention, Sportssd, & Entertainment Facilities Consulting, joined with San Diego Authority to present the case against Measure C. Their report, known as the HSV report, spans 56 pages.

The HSV report showed a staggering difference from the Huden Report. The HSV Report argued that the project will only create 90,000 room nights as compared to the Hunden Report’s 225,000 estimate. The report states that the Hunden report counts room nights by the person, not by the room. For instance, the HSV report argues that if two individuals shared a room for two nights, the Huden Report counts this as four room nights, rather than what they believe should be only two. This would see an increase in only $3.4 million in annual TOT revenue, as compared to the estimated $12.5 in annual TOT revenue in the HSV Report.

The HSV Report projected that, over the approximate 32 year lifespan, the stadium will cost $3.4 billion. The HSV Report estimated that the $3.4 billion cost will be covered by the convention aspect, making the stadium addition cost ineffective.

The HSV Report also argued that the NFL schedule will cause a problem for large conventions and groups. This is a notion that has been greatly disputed by both sides.

Community Reaction:

Although the measure received strong support to be on the ballot, the measure will need to receive a two-thirds vote to pass. USD students are torn between whether the stadium should be built or not.

Junior Nick Hatton is for the building of the new stadium. Hatton said that he believes that the new stadium is long overdue and would help drive the tourism industry in San Diego.

“The Chargers have a deep history in San Diego,” Hatton said. “Them staying would show respect to the city and to the fans who have stuck with them. I think that it will also benefit the city economically. It would bring a lot of tourism revenue to San Diego, and that tourism tax is a big revenue source that can benefit the rest of the city. And any non NFL event will just bring further revenue to the city.”

Although Hatton is for the stadium, some students are opposed to the new building. Senior Jordan Latchford discussed the stadium plan in her business economics class and has her doubts about what the Chargers are saying about the new stadium.

“I think it is going to cost a lot more than people think,” Latchford said. “I think in the end San Diegans will have to pay for the building, not just tourists. And that is something that most people probably don’t want.”

Recently San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer endorsed the measure.

“This was not my plan, but I saw an opportunity to make it better,” Faulconer said. “It’s no secret that I had concerns and it’s also no secret that I thought it was important to get financial protections. These safeguards obviously strengthen this measure and strengthen things moving forward in the future.”

Despite Mayor Faulconer’s support, Tony Manolatos, a spokesman for a coalition of community leaders and politicians, is strongly against the new building.

“There is a reason so many community leaders and organizations oppose Measure C,” Manolatos said. “It would divert more than $1 billion in new taxes to a stadium project and subsidize an NFL franchise worth more than $2 billion. Anyone who says it’s a good deal for San Diego is more interested in politics than good public policy.”

Moving forward:

Both sides of Measure C have argued that each opposing report is flawed based on the scope of its studies. However, it will not come down to the reports; rather, the voters will decide. On Nov. 8, San Diego residents will decide the ultimate path of the project.

The San Diego Chargers’ president, Dean Spanos, said the Chargers will not pursue a stand-alone stadium in Mission Valley if Measure C fails. There is no current alternative plan to Measure C. Spanos has also commented that, if Measure C fails, it does not mean the team is moving to Los Angeles. Many San Diegans will be wondering how much time is left for the Chargers in San Diego.

Written by Kevin Nelson, News Editor