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Politics

Chamber Of Commerce Backs Chargers Stadium Initiative

Dean Spanos, chairman of the board of the Chargers, speaks at a press conference at Chargers Park, July 28, 2016.
Kris Arciaga
Dean Spanos, chairman of the board of the Chargers, speaks at a press conference at Chargers Park, July 28, 2016.

Chamber Of Commerce Backs Chargers Stadium Initiative
The San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce announced Thursday morning its support for the Chargers' plan to build a multi-use sports complex and convention facility downtown.

The San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce announced Thursday morning its support for the Chargers' plan to build a multi-use sports complex and convention facility downtown.

The announcement was made at a news conference at Chargers Park that included chamber President and CEO Jerry Sanders, Chargers Chairman Dean Spanos and retired Chargers center Nick Hardwick. Margie Newman, a small-business owner and member of the chamber's committee on the Chargers initiative also attended.

A new Chargers stadium would have a positive effect on regional businesses and jobs, said the chamber's board of directors, which includes A.G. Spanos, the Chargers chairman's son and the team's president of business operations.

A concept design of a proposed Chargers stadium in downtown San Diego is shown in this undated photo.
Manica Architecture
A concept design of a proposed Chargers stadium in downtown San Diego is shown in this undated photo.

"I cannot tell you what this means to me personally, but I can tell you that we would not have a chance of success without the support of the chamber," Dean Spanos said. "It's a long hard road ahead of us and we're up for the challenge. We're committed to get this thing approved and we're going to do it."

In its letter of support for the initiative, the chamber outlined several requests that it asked be considered by the Chargers, including making sure the tourism marketing district gets 2 percent of the increase in tourism taxes; that no money be used from the city's general fund; and that among other issues, parking, traffic and infrastructure be addressed.

Sanders said it's a matter of civic pride to keep the Chargers in San Diego and a new downtown stadium would have a positive impact on the East Village, Downtown and the entire region.

"What this means is the business community, represented by the San Diego chamber, has thoroughly studied the issues," Sanders told KPBS News. "It’s been an exhaustive process. ... Hopefully, people will be more informed."

Chargers head coach Mike McCoy took time out from his preparation for the beginning of training camp Saturday to speak in favor of the new stadium at Thursday's news conference.

"We have a great opportunity here for what we're doing moving forward," McCoy said. "We look forward to getting this stadium and we are the San Diego Chargers forever. It's important to support this great campaign."

Retired Chargers center Nick Hardwick urged voters to get to the polls on election day.

"You've got to show up San Diego, you've got to show up, our number has been called," Hardwick said. "When it comes November, and it's time in that election booth to vote 'yes' on this initiative, it's time to get out there and get it done."

Councilman David Alvarez, muralist Mario Torero and other community leaders have joined the "No Downtown Stadium — Jobs and Streets First" campaign, according to a statement the campaign released Thursday morning.

"I oppose the Chargers ballot initiative because it's another bad stadium deal for San Diego," Alvarez said in the statement.

Torero said, "I'm fundamentally opposed to the stadium because of the negative impacts it will have on Barrio Logan. Planners have very little concern about how these massive changes affect Barrio businesses, residents and culture, essentially eliminating them over time. Along with others, I have been working to maintain the Barrio Logan cultural arts scene and its diversity in a way that honors and preserves the culture and people who have deep roots here."

Alvarez's City Council district includes Barrio Logan.

April Boling, chairwoman of the campaign against the stadium former head of the San Diego Convention Center board, said the chamber of commerce made its decision without hearing from the opposition.

The City Council earlier this month approved putting the team's initiative on the November ballot. The council took the action after the Chargers submitted enough signatures by registered voters to qualify it for the ballot.