Chargers stadium finance study needs rush
by Ruben Barrales
Published - 12/05/09 - 03:46 AM | 2916 views | 0 0 comments | 11 11 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Building a new San Diego Chargers stadium downtown could bring immense economic and civic opportunity to the East Village and the entire San Diego region. With this and the region’s best interests in mind, including keeping the Chargers here in San Diego, we must determine the financial viability of this site quickly.

The financial viability study, which was recently approved by Centre City Development Corp. using money from its general fund, is a four to six month process that will help the city determine the financial ramifications of placing the stadium in the current bus yard for the Metropolitan Transit System, located east of Petco Park. The biggest hurdle for the potential stadium is how to finance the approximately $1 billion project, which further underscores the importance of expediting this financial review.

Community leaders, including the San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce, are excited about the prospect of a new stadium in one of our most prominent redevelopment areas. Turning the Metropolitan Transit System’s bus yard into a state-of-the-art stadium would be an effective catalyst to bolster redevelopment in East Village, but we must act quickly to ensure this feasibility.

Dragging our feet on the opportunity to move the Chargers to the East Village will only open the window for municipalities outside of our region to throw their hat in the ring and woo the Chargers to other locations. Having a hometown NFL team can generate hundreds of millions of dollars per year for the local economy, and in order for San Diego to remain in the running, we must expedite this financial viability study as quickly as possible.

While these possibilities are met with excitement by many of San Diego’s community leaders, the uncertainty of the proposed location is leaving many East Village property owners and residents nervous. The prospect of an unknown future for the area may cause anxiety among property owners who may have difficulty leasing space, developers who may need to put pending projects on hold, and business owners that may face a myriad of unknowns, all of which would have a negative financial impact on the San Diego region.

Reviewing the project in a timely manner will tell whether the benefits of a downtown stadium outweigh the risks.

While a downtown football stadium could have a long-lasting positive impact on the East Village and the San Diego region, in the short term we need to focus on analyzing the financial possibilities of building on this site with an exceptional sense of urgency. The speed with which we conduct this study can have a significant impact on the businesses and residents of East Village and may very well determine San Diego’s ability to remain a viable home for the Chargers.

— Ruben Barrales is the president and CEO of the San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce.

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