Chargers to launch Citizen’s Initiative for downtown stadium

The San Diego Chargers on Tuesday announced they will launch a Citizen’s Initiative campaign for a downtown San Diego stadium plan.

The Chargers, who have a deal in place with the Rams to potentially join them as partners in Los Angeles should things not work out in San Diego, believe a multi-use downtown facility gives them the best chance of getting a stadium plan approved that will keep them in San Diego long term and create a transformative downtown entertainment hub that includes the Chargers, Padres and convention center.

The Chargers are backing a downtown project ahead of the Mission Valley proposal local leaders pushed over the previous 12 months.

The Chargers and Oakland Raiders were approved for relocation to Los Angeles along with the Rams last January by the National Football League. The Chargers were given the first opportunity to join the Rams, and upon agreeing to a partnership deal with them the Chargers opted to use the guaranteed spot in Los Angeles to leverage San Diego for a long-term stadium deal.

The Chargers and Raiders utilized a Citizen’s Initiative campaign to expedite approval for the Carson stadium proposal they teamed up on in early 2015. The Rams used the same tactic to get their Inglewood stadium proposal approved.

The Chargers now hope for the same success in San Diego.

If the downtown plan doesn’t succeed, the Chargers could join the Rams in L.A. as early as the 2017 season.

If the plan gets approved, the Raiders would then become potential partners in L.A. with the Rams.

In a statement released late Tuesday, the Chargers said:

“We have spent the last month evaluating the leading San Diego stadium sites and financing proposals. During that time, led by Chargers Special Advisor Fred Maas, we have engaged in regular discussions with Mayor Faulconer, Supervisor Roberts, City Attorney Goldsmith, and City and County negotiators. And we have carefully evaluated the arguments made by the Mayor and others regarding the merits of the Mission Valley site. We agree that in many respects, the arguments for Mission Valley are compelling.

At the same time, we have considered the potential benefits to both the greater San Diego region and the Chargers of a multi-use stadium/convention center facility downtown.

The multi-use facility, when combined with Petco Park, the existing Convention Center, the Gaslamp Quarter, and a revitalized East Village, would create an unparalleled entertainment and sports district that will host Super Bowls and will ideally be a permanent home for Comic-Con and a Comic-Con museum.

All of our research demonstrates that voters are more likely to approve a multi-use facility that would generate economic activity on hundreds of days per year, including by attracting major sporting and convention events that San Diego cannot now host. The downtown multi-use facility would also free up the existing Mission Valley site for potential use by educational institutions such as San Diego State and UCSD, as well as for a large riverfront park.

For these reasons, the Chargers will begin collaborating immediately with the existing diverse citizens’ coalition led by Donna Frye and JMI Realty that has already been formed in favor of a downtown convention center expansion and educational and recreational uses in Mission Valley. Our goal is to win voter approval in November 2016 for a downtown multi-use stadium/convention center facility and to facilitate the best possible community uses for the existing Mission Valley site. We will deliver regular reports to our fans and to the community about the progress we are making.

We believe that a downtown multi-use facility will attract broad support from throughout our entire community. And we hope that, as our downtown proposal is developed and as the campaign for passage begins, those who have supported the Mission Valley site will keep an open mind and consider supporting what we believe is the best way to secure a permanent home for the Chargers in San Diego.

We are very grateful for all of the hard work that Mayor Faulconer, Supervisor Roberts and City Attorney Goldsmith have done on behalf of the City and County over the past few weeks and look forward to maintaining a dialogue as our plans move forward.”