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San Diego City Council to Vote on New NFL Stadium

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Plans to finance a new professional football stadium in downtown San Diego may hinge on a June 22 vote by the city council, according to Chargers Special Counsel to the President Mark Fabiani.

San Diego City Council to Vote on New NFL Stadium
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Fabiani spoke at a recent town hall forum at the Ironworkers Union Hall to discuss the latest developments in the Chargers’ attempt to secure a Super Bowl-quality facility. The town hall was sponsored by the San Diego Stadium Coalition community group.

The stadium is being designed by architect Dennis Wellner, and this is not Wellner’s first foray into NFL stadiums. The Kansas City-based architect has designed several stadiums, including Heinz Field for the Pittsburgh Steelers, Gillette Stadium for the New England Patriots, Reliant Stadium for the Houston Texans and University of Phoenix Stadium for the Arizona Cardinals. Wellner is currently designing the expansion of the Kansas City Chiefs' Arrowhead Stadium.

The city council will vote June 22 to approve or reject a study that would examine the viability of extending the redevelopment spending cap for the Centre City Development Corp. (CCDC).

The CCDC will soon reach its allocated limit for downtown development funds. The proposed study, to be funded by the CCDC, will examine whether a new stadium and the potential for surrounding upshots of retail, business and housing would create a bigger pot and the county would come out ahead.

“If we can’t get enthusiastic support for the study, that sends a message that the cap will never get extended,” Fabiani says. “You need that basic, bedrock support from the city.

“We don’t want to be obnoxious about it. We don’t want to start raining phone calls down upon people, but at the same time, if you care about this, you (the public) should weigh in.”

The Chargers also released Wellner’s first rendition of the proposed $800 million downtown stadium during the town hall-style meeting.

The 10-acre site is near 17th Street and Imperial Avenue.

Fabiani discussed funding options and the political landscape in detail and fielded questions and comments at the San Diego Stadium Coalition’s largest public meeting.

The Chargers already have looked for creative ways to secure funding and hope the process continues to move forward, he says, delving into some of the specific plans. He says the financing “is not something that’s simple to understand. It’s not something you can put on a postcard. It’s going to take a lot of work to explain (to the public).”

Government support would lend credibility to the team’s arguments, he says, and while the team’s political position never has been stronger, the economy needs to improve for a project this large to become realistic.

“If you think big, there’s a way to do this,” Fabiani says at the close of the discussion. “If you don’t, there’s probably not.”

Having visited stadium locations around the league, he says he became impressed with the amount of growth such a facility has spawned in downtown areas across the country. Projects such as Staples Center in Los Angeles, or the Gaslamp Quarter and Petco Park in San Diego, wouldn’t exist without funds allocated for downtown development, he added.

Fabiani also talked about the domino affect of land and facilities that could affect the Sports Arena and even brought up the stadium as a potential host of the 2018 or 2022 World Cup Final Game, for which the United States has bid. A new stadium also could help facilitate the addition of an NBA and NHL franchise in San Diego, he said.

Fabiani adds that football fans can rest assured the organization is working hard to maintain a good relationship with citizens in Southern California and bring them a cutting-edge facility to watch games.

“(President and Chief Executive Officer) Dean Spanos and his family have done everything possible over the last eight years to keep the team here,” Fabiani says.

“We’re still working at it. People need to know that we’re still working at it, but that the effort can’t go on forever. There are only so many sites. There are only so many options. And at some point, you run out of options. We’re closer to the end of the process than we are to the beginning, but we’re hoping that the downtown site is going to work out for us.”

regarding property near Petco Park. The site currently consists of 15 acres where the Wonder Bread building, Tailgate Park and a San Diego Transit bus yard currently reside. Both the Chargers and the City are especially interested in this site as it removes approximately $200M from the $1B total price tag thanks to existing infrastructure. In addition, the site's proximity to the Convention Center and Petco create many interesting possibilities for attracting major events to San Diego.
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