The San Diego Chargers expect to release reports in the next few weeks from the front-running cities in the race to keep the football team in the county. (View George Chamberlin's discussion with reporter Elizabeth Malloy here.)
Oceanside and Chula Vista have both completed reports on where and how they would like to build a stadium for the Chargers, whose current home in Qualcomm stadium is outdated and in need of repair, according to team officials. Chula Vista’s report is expected to be released Sept. 13, and Oceanside’s sometime around Sept. 24, according to Chargers’ attorney Mark Fabiani.
Fabiani said the Chargers want the public to read the reports and participate in a discussion process with the team.
“Our goal would be to -- I don’t know if it’s right to call it a listening tour -- but to go on some sort of public outreach effort in Oceanside and Chula Vista,” Fabiani said. He said the team wants to hold meetings and forums to gauge the interest and concerns of community members.
Inside the yet-to-be-released reports, Fabiani said each city highlights the advantages and acknowledges the drawbacks of their respective proposals. Chula Vista offers two sites: one is a spot on its bayfront, blessed with views of the water, and a close proximity to Interstate 5. The spot is also currently home to a power plant, which could cause environmental problems later, and the fact that it's so close to the bay means the California Coastal Commission will have heavy involvement in any planning.
Chula Vista is offering a more inland spot as well, which is owned by the city, has plenty of open space and little to no environmental concerns, Fabiani said. The stadium would be part of a 500-acre university campus. The drawback is that the only access is by the state Route 125 toll road and surface streets.
In Oceanside, there is one spot, a 73-acre plot near the freeway. The city has a plan to help finance the stadium’s construction, which is something the Chargers are looking for in any plan. Oceanside wants to build first-class office space near the stadium site to help with funding. Parking spaces from the office buildings could be used for football games, since the offices would likely be closed Sundays. Fabiani said the team could build direct access from the freeway to the stadium.
“The Oceanside site, from a fan point of view, is probably the friendlier site,” Fabiani said. He pointed out that in Oceanside, fans from North County and even Orange County would have an easier time getting to the games.
But Oceanside has its drawbacks, too. Fabiani said the city’s report points out that there isn’t clear evidence there is a market in the city for the kind of office space they’re planning. Also, office space doesn’t offer a quick return on investment like condominiums do. The Chargers had initially planned to finance a new stadium in Mission Valley where Qualcomm now sits by building housing and retail space around it, but the city of San Diego refused to offer any funding.
“None of these sites are going to be perfect,” Fabiani said.
The Chula Vista City Council is scheduled to discuss their city’s report Sept. 18. Fabiani said the Chargers are working with both cities to arrange public forums that will include input from residents.
Send your comments to Elizabeth.Malloy@sddt.com