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Chamber Of Commerce Warms To Downtown ‘Convadium’

Aired 3/25/16 on KPBS News.

The San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce is open to exploring a downtown Chargers stadium linked to a convention center expansion. The news came after a presentation from Chargers stadium envoy Fred Maas.

Associated Press

Empty seats at Qualcomm Stadium prior to the NFL preseason football game between the San Diego Chargers and the San Francisco 49ers, Sept. 4, 2009.

The San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce on Thursday voted to support exploring a joint Chargers stadium and convention center expansion downtown, after meeting with the team's stadium representatives.

The chamber listened to a presentation from Fred Maas, hired by the Chargers to spearhead their stadium efforts, as well as the team's chief financial officer, Jeanne Bonk, and president of business operations, A.G. Spanos.

After the presentation, the chamber released a statement saying members had "voted in support of evaluating a plan for a non-contiguous expansion and a multi-use sports complex ... while also maintaining support of contiguous expansion."

The statement included a quote from the chamber's president, Jerry Sanders:

"The Chargers are important to San Diego, and we need to do what we can to keep the team here while also attracting convention business and tourism dollars to our city. We look forward to evaluating this plan together with our partner organizations to determine the best path forward."

Details of the Chargers' plans for a convention center-stadium, or "convadium," were leaked this week to the Voice of San Diego and The San Diego Union-Tribune. The reports said the Chargers would pay for the project with an increase in the hotel tax to 16.5 percent from 12.5 percent. A fraction of the tax revenue would go toward marketing San Diego tourism.

A chamber spokeswoman said the Chargers' presentation covered the details reported in the news media, but that it was not the team's finalized plan. She added that the chamber was encouraged by the team's efforts to work with hoteliers on presenting a plan the hotel industry could support.

The support from local business leaders increases the pressure on Mayor Kevin Faulconer to take a position on the convadium. Faulconer has preferred a contiguous expansion of the convention center, but those plans have been blocked by a lawsuit.

A spokesman for Faulconer said the mayor would not comment on the matter until the Chargers make their plans public.

The Chargers' ambitions to move to the Los Angeles area were stymied in January when NFL team owners rejected their plans to share a stadium in Carson with the Oakland Raiders. Instead, the league offered the Chargers a one-year option to join the Rams' at their stadium in Inglewood, or accept cash to build a new stadium in San Diego.

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