Stadium Watch: Stadium is a campaign issue

SAN DIEGO (KUSI) – San Diego mayoral candidate Lori Saldana Thursday endorsed the Briggs Initiative which is pushing a downtown stadium for the Chargers.

The endorsement assures this will be a hotly contested campaign issue in the mayors re-election because the mayor opposes it.

Saldana was joined by Cory Briggs for Thursday’s endorsement, so the campaign battle is underway. The Mayor, Supervisor Ron Roberts and the hoteliers on one side, Saldana, Briggs and the Chargers on the other side.

Lori Saldana said part of governing is making choices and her choice is the citizens plan for downtown.

"I’m standing here in support of this plan, I’ve made my choice about what kind of stadium I"d like to see for San Diego, and that choice is one that is co-located with other big infrastructure that we have in San Diego," Saldana said.

Saldana favors the Briggs plan to expand the Convention Center in the East Village and leaving much of the Mission Valley site as open space.

She favors refurbishing Qualcomm or building a smaller stadium for the Aztecs, leaving room for SDSU to expand its educational footprint there.

"Not as an overdeveloped piece of real estate which is what the current mayor is proposing but we need to turn it back to the citizens of San Diego as a hub of academic excellence," Saldana said.

Actually, the mayor and the supervisor dropped plans for a large development at the site because a stadium plan was due at the end of last year and downtown, they felt, would take too long and was much more costly.

The Briggs plan will be very confusing to voters. It prohibits public dollars from going to a stadium but it raises taxes.

"The funding for this plan would come from raising the transit occupancy tax, the TOT tax," Saldana said.

That public funding would be in the form of economic incentives to hoteliers if they build a Convention Center that allows for a stadium.

"That’s the only place the public funding comes into this," Briggs said.

Briggs said they money would come from visitors, not residents, and goes to the general fund.

"Opponents who say you’re giving tax money to the Chargers or somebody else who builds in conjunction with a convention center, that’s simply false," Briggs said.

"They understand if they build a stadium they have to pay for it themselves, and we’re working with them on that to made sure it happens," Briggs added.

Here’s one way. The tax dollars would build the infrastructure for a Convention Center expansion.

But those same dollars would benefit the Chargers because its infrastructure a stadium would need greatly, reducing the contribution from the team to a downtown stadium.

While no tax money is going directly from the city to the Chargers, the teams cost to a downtown stadium has been reduced and the city gets more Convention Center space.

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