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Consultant: Cost To Expand San Diego Convention Center Rising

A view of the San Diego Convention Center and the Hilton San Diego Bayfront, June 1, 2014.
Michael Schuerman
A view of the San Diego Convention Center and the Hilton San Diego Bayfront, June 1, 2014.

An expanded convention center in San Diego would cost from $335 million to $549 million, according to a consultant's report to the mayor's office.

The report from CB Urban Development envisions a variety of scenarios for making the meeting facility bigger.

All of them would be scaled down from the expansion plan approved under former Mayor Jerry Sanders. That proposal received approvals from the City Council, Port of San Diego and California Coastal Commission, but the financing plan was rejected in court.

According to the consultant, costs since then have risen about 4 percent per year, or $1 million a month, because of robust global construction.

The main options and their costs include:

• Cutting a corner to keep a 1-acre park, which reduces the amount of added floor space, $549 million.

• Removing a massive upper-floor ballroom that had been part of the project, $410 million.

• Putting the additional facilities at other locations such as Tailgate Park, which is next to Petco Park, and the Metropolitan Transit System's bus yard, $335 million to $428 million, depending on where a parking lot is placed.

The consultant also studied a convention center expansion paired with a new football stadium in East Village, but a task force appointed by Mayor Kevin Faulconer announced Wednesday it has opted for a stadium site in Mission Valley.

The CB Urban report came with several disclaimers, including whether the reduced-scale alternatives fit with the convention center's programming and marketing goals, a lack of certainty on costs until design and construction teams are selected, and the exclusion of certain infrastructure and land costs.

In a memo to the City Council and other municipal officials, Faulconer said his staff would work with the San Diego Convention Center Corp. to study the return on investment and customer preferences of each scenario. The study would begin this month and take about four months, the mayor said.

"I stand firm in my support of expanding the convention center and remain open to both contiguous and non-contiguous opportunities," Faulconer wrote. "Ultimately, the decision on which expansion project that we move forward with will be based on what is most financially and legally prudent and supported by San Diego voters."