San Diego visitor industry calls for another hotel tax study

SAN DIEGO (KUSI) — San Diego’s visitor industry wants another study on the Chargers downtown stadium/convention center plan.

The Tourism Authority wants to know how much transit occupancy tax, or TOT, would be generated with or without a stadium.

A similar study last year said added convention space with or without a stadium would be an economic benefit but the benefit is greater by expanding at the Waterfront.

This is an effort by the hoteliers and the tourism industry to reaffirm any increase in the hotel tax should go to expanding the Convention Center at the Waterfront, and not for a convention center annex tied to a stadium several blocks away.

Steve Cushman, who’s working on a financing plan to expand the existing Convention Center, said last year’s study showed convention goers want contiguous space.

"I have spoken to numerous hoteliers and they have made it very clear to me that they want is a continuous convention center and that’s what their clients want," Cushman said.

The Tourism Marketing Authority and the Tourism Marketing District joined the hoteliers in opposing the Chargers Stadium Plan. Those positions have not changed.

This new study is to determine how much hotel taxes would be generated by a stadium annex and if the investment would pay off.

Mayor Kevin Faulconer has said he’d be open to alternatives, but he hasn’t yet taken a position on the Chargers plan or the citizens plan for San Diego, a competing stadium plan.

But early this year, he supported expansion at the Waterfront.

"We have to grow our tourism economy. We have to do it in a way that makes sense that will keep convention groups coming to San Diego, spending their money and those are dollars we use to pay for our roads, to hire more police officers, to keep our parks and libraries open," Mayor Faulconer said in April.

Another part of this equation is a very important part: Comic-Con needs more space.

"Contiguous space is very important to us. It allows retailers to be in one location, have fans and attendees in one location. It’s something we’re really concerned about," said David Glanzer, Comic-Con’s Vice President for Communications. 

Glanzer said traffic flow for retailers would be inhibited at a smaller annex, and San Diego is in competition to keep Comic-Con, whose contract runs out in 2018.

"Other cities come to us and say well you could go through all those hoops or you could come to our city where you have contiguous space," Glanzer said.

Comic-Con also needs discounted room rates for many of the 130 thousand visitors who attend this annual event. The concerns about room rates and a contract extension can be negotiated.

The problem for Comic-Con is neither the Chargers Stadium Plan nor the Citizen’s Plan solves it’s space problem. Both plans are for expansion away from the Waterfront.

Categories: Local San Diego News