How feasible is stadium/convention center combo?
Architects for the San Diego Chargers are drawing up a plan for a stadium that includes convention center space. The idea is to eliminate the need to move forward with the current convention center expansion project. But there are problems.
This new stadium plan would take much of the $500 million allocated for convention center expansion and shift it to the new plan which would include convention center space.
But that new space would be separated from the existing convention center.
“It would limit us in the size of conventions that we could attract,” says Convention Center Board Member Steve Cushman. “It would limit us in the exhibit halls that we could utilize on a contiguous basis, and that is what our customers continue to tell us.”
Steve Cushman is the mayor's point man on convention center expansion. To Cushman, not having contiguous space puts this new stadium plan in jeopardy.
“If they are in different places, it just doesn't work,” says Cushman. “It's not efficient, we'd need multiple kitchens, we'd need multiple management staffs because you'd have to have people on both sides of the street, it would just be two independent facilities. That's not what we're trying to do.”
Cushman says the hotel owners who are being asked to increase their room tax to pay for the expansion do not want this money going to a stadium. They want one large facility, not two independent facilities.
“I have spoken to numerous hoteliers and they have made it very clear to me that what they want is a contiguous convention center and that's what their clients want.”
Mayor Jerry Sanders has repeatedly said that the convention center is the golden goose, and its expansion is his number one priority. That has not changed.
The mayor's office released the following statement:
“The mayor supports expansion connected to the existing convention center. We are working on the financing and expect to break ground next year.”
One would expect the Chargers to know this, so why push a plan that seemingly has little chance of going anywhere?
Chargers point man Mark Fabiani told KUSI:
“The team is trying to generate discussion and debate about how to get a new stadium, and it's hard to argue against the cost savings when you combine a stadium with a convention center space.”
It is very late in the game for the Chargers, and a lot of eyes are looking toward Los Angeles where stadium plans are moving forward.