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San Diego Mayor Asks Tough Questions About Chargers’ Ballot Initiative

San Diego
San Diego Mayor Asks Tough Questions About Chargers’ Ballot Initiative

San Diego mayor Kevin Faulconer sent a letter to the Chargers last week asking tough questions about cost, taxpayer risk and other concerns surrounding the team’s proposed ballot initiative to raise hotel taxes to help finance a combined stadium and convention center project.

Mayor Faulconer stated in the letter it was his duty as mayor to seek answers to help the public and elected officials be fully informed on the initiative's effects on San Diego.

The team’s 110-page ballot initiative would change parts of the city’s financing and land-use policy, according to the San Diego Union-Tribune. This initiative proposes raising the Transient Occupancy Tax from 12.5% to 16.5% to enable a city-controlled entity to sell bonds to contribute $350M to the $1B-stadium portion of the proposed shared-use project. It states a professional football team would provide $650M toward construction of the stadium (the initiative does not directly name the Chargers).

Mayor Faulconer requested a list of design details and overall cost estimates for construction and operation of the combined complex. The plan includes a 65,000-seat stadium and 385k SF exhibit space several blocks from the convention center. His biggest concern is whether the initiative could put the city’s general fund at risk if the hotel tax hike causes enough of a slump in hospitality business to jeopardize revenue for the bond payment.

The initiative also calls for establishing a city-controlled agency to make key decisions about funding the convention center and land acquisition, as well as own and operate the joint complex. The Chargers have not yet responded to the mayor’s requests.

The mayor is not the only one with concerns about the Chargers’ proposal. SD Convention Center Corp chairman Rabbi Laurie Coskey expressed her concerns in a Voice of San Diego blog about building an exhibition space several blocks from meeting facilities. "Our clients choose San Diego for a reason, and they told us decidedly in a recent study that they prefer a contiguous expansion,'' she said. [SDUT]