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Stadium: Chargers Pointman Talks To KPBS; East Village Group Reacts To Proposal

KPBS' Midday Edition continued the conversation on the Chargers' proposed stadium-convention center project in downtown San Diego with two segments Thursday.

Chargers' adviser talks to KPBS

Photo credit: JMI Realty

A conceptual rendering of the proposed Chargers stadium/convention center in downtown San Diego. The renderings may be revised in the future.

GUEST:

Fred Maas, special adviser, San Diego Chargers

Transcript

GUESTS:

David Malmuth, developer, I.D.E.A. District

Rob Quigley, architect and East Village resident

The Chargers will begin collecting signatures in three weeks in a bid to qualify a $1.8 billion downtown stadium and convention center annex proposal for the November general election.

The plan includes hiking the city's hotel room tax to fund construction, operations and maintenance. The team also intends to chip in $350 million and borrow $300 million from the NFL.

Several local elected officials have said they are not fans of the plan.

Fred Maas, special adviser to the Chargers, told Midday Edition he's "disappointed with some of the folks who've come out so publicly this early, but fortunately there's not that many of them."

He said the team is excited about the downtown location because it would "realize the dream" of a mixed-use convention center and stadium that creates "a live sports and entertainment district." He said it also would open up opportunities for other uses of the current 166-acre Qualcomm Stadium site in Mission Valley.

Maas said the team believes "we've honored the commitment the city had made to the NFL many months ago where it'd be a third from the NFL, a third from the team and a third from visitors."

San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer said he'll evaluate the proposal's potential impact on jobs and taxes.

Maas said the tax won't affect San Diego residents unless they stay in hotels in the city.

Under the proposal, the Chargers would be responsible for the football side of the project. The city would oversee the convention center and the stadium when it's not being used for football.

But the chairwoman of the board that oversees the convention center said the Chargers' plan falls short of the need for additional exhibit space. A planned expansion of the convention center has been held up for years by litigation over its funding method and environmental impact. Local officials say a larger facility is necessary to keep Comic-Con International in town and attract other large trade shows. Some officials are opposed to breaking up exhibit space. The Chargers' plan calls for construction of a stadium and exhibit space a few blocks away from the convention center.

Maas said the team plans to respond to those concerns.

"This notion of walling off the area is misinformed," he said. "People are forgetting that this area was specifically contemplated for a sports and entertainment district."

A separate initiative backed by attorney Cory Briggs and former Councilwoman Donna Frye is also headed to the November ballot and would raise hotel room taxes.

"As far as we know right now," Maas said, those initiatives will remain separate.

East Village group reacts to proposal

One group is concerned about the implications of a downtown football stadium.

The East Village People, made up of East Village developers and residents, worry a stadium would cut off downtown from surrounding neighborhoods, including Sherman Heights and Barrio Logan.

Architect and East Village resident Rob Quigley told Midday Edition he "can't think of a city in the country" that put a stadium next to its largest cultural attraction. Quigley designed the new downtown library that would be near the stadium.

He said he's very concerned about the impact the stadium and its parking would have on the area. He said contrary to Maas' claim, the area was never intended to house a sports and entertainment complex.

David Malmuth, a developer of San Diego's I.D.E.A. District, said he wants a "vibrant mixed-use innovation district" in the area, not a stadium.

The East Village People are holding a workshop at 9:30 a.m. Saturday to discuss alternatives for the future of East Village. It will be held at the NewSchool of Architecture & Design. Those planning to attend are asked to RSVP by Thursday to evsouthworkshop@gmail.com.

CORRECTION: This story has been updated. An earlier version incorrectly reported the price tag for the proposed $1.8 billion stadium and convention center expansion.

City News Service contributed to this report.

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