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Old Chargers Stadium Made New Again?

Steve Cushman, former special assistant to Mayor Jerry Sanders, talks to KPBS about plans for a new Chargers stadium.

— One of San Diego’s most influential insiders says redeveloping Qualcomm is the best option for a new Chargers’ Stadium. Former Port Commissioner Steve Cushman told KPBS Evening Edition the existing site could be redeveloped without public funds.

One of San Diego's most influential insiders says he wants to redevelop Qualcomm into a new stadium for the San Diego Chargers, and believes it could be done without spending public money.

Cushman, the ultimate San Diego insider after serving on 70 boards and working on the Convention Center expansion on behalf of former Mayor Jerry Sanders, said building a new football stadium downtown is still an option, but believes Qualcomm is the most realistic solution.

Steve Cushman

“If we don’t come up with a solution, I am very concerned they (the Chargers) are going to leave San Diego, so I think Qualcomm should be on the table,” Cushman said.

Cushman is the second San Diego heavy hitter to suggest redeveloping Qualcomm in the past three months. Hotel developer and newspaper owner Doug Manchester told a crowd at San Diego State University that he favored the Qualcomm site last October.

Manchester surprised many when he publicly supported the Qualcomm site because his newspaper, U-T San Diego, has vigorously supported building a stadium and sports complex at the Tenth Avenue Marine Terminal.

Cushman said he and Manchester have been friends for years and he'd "love" to partner with Manchester on the development.

When asked whether he would partner with Cushman, Manchester emphasized he did not have control over the property and it was up the city and Chargers owner Dean Spanos to decide whether Qualcomm is the best solution.

"The most important thing is I am 100 percent behind the Spanos family and Chargers staying in San Diego and I would do anything I possibly can to further that," Manchester said Wednesday.

But it likely won't include a new stadium at the waterfront, given the 25-year lease the Port Commission signed with the Dole Food Company, Manchester conceded.

"You have to look out the front windshield and not the rear-view mirror," Manchester said.

Mayor Bob Filner has said in the past he would be "the toughest negotiator the Chargers have ever faced."

"The only deal I will make is one that will give something back to the city and its taxpayers," Filner wrote in his campaign literature.

Cushman believes it's possible to redevelop the existing site without public funds if it also includes retail and residential development.

“This is a piece of property today that is costing the city money every single year. I think it’s a piece of property that could bring lots of income to the city if we put in apartments and retail and the development of a new stadium,” Cushman said.

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