Chargers seek hotel tax increase to help fund stadium
SAN DIEGO (AP) The San Diego Chargers plan to ask voters in November to approve an increase in the city's hotel tax to build a combined 65,000-seat stadium and convention center annex downtown.
The Chargers say they need to gather 66,447 signatures from registered voters by mid-June to place the initiative for the $1.8 billion project on the Nov. 8 ballot.
Then comes the hard part - convincing voters to approve a solution to the long, bitter saga of trying to replace aging Qualcomm Stadium.
The citizens' initiative comes after the Chargers were rebuffed by NFL owners in their attempt to build a stadium with the rival Oakland Raiders in a Los Angeles suburb. The Chargers were given the right to join the Rams in a stadium expected to open in Inglewood in 2019 if they can't get a new stadium built in San Diego.
The team didn't immediately respond to a request to make chairman Dean Spanos available for comment. Spanos angered many fans last year with his attempt to move to Los Angeles.
The measure is expected to be opposed by the powerful tourism and convention industry, which wants the convention center expanded at its bayfront location, not several blocks away as the Chargers' plan calls for.
Mayor Kevin Faulconer, whose wants a new stadium built at the Qualcomm site in Mission Valley, seemed tepid in his response to the Chargers' plan.
''After more than a decade, the Chargers are putting forward a plan of their own and San Diegans may finally have the ultimate say on a new stadium in November,'' Faulconer said in a statement. ''The convention center element makes this proposal more than a stadium and the long term future of San Diego's tourism economy is now intertwined in this plan. As always, my top priorities are to protect jobs, protect taxpayers and do what's right for all San Diegans. I will evaluate the proposal's details through that lens.''
Earlier this year, Comic-Con, the annual entertainment and comic extravaganza that has outgrown the convention center, expressed doubts about the Chargers' plan to build a non-contiguous expansion as part of a stadium deal.
April Boling, a board member of the San Diego County Taxpayers Association, said in a statement that the Chargers' proposal ''is not a good deal for San Diegans. It is only a good deal for the Chargers and the team's development partner, which wants to build a hotel on property it owns next to the new facility.''
Councilman Scott Sherman, whose district includes Qualcomm Stadium, said in a statement that, ''Once again, it appears the Chargers have chosen the path of most resistance. At first glance, I am not encouraged.''
The Chargers' measure would raise the hotel tax from 12.5 percent to 16.5 percent, putting it among the highest on the West Coast.
The Chargers say they would contribute $350 million, which could be offset by personal seat licenses and naming rights. The NFL would contribute $300 million, including a $200 million loan and $100 million it offered to the Chargers and Raiders in an attempt to keep them in the current markets.
The team did not release renderings of its proposed project.
Online: http://pro32.ap.org/poll and http://twitter.com/AP-NFL