Chula Vista released its report on potential stadium sites Thursday, pushing the South County city to the forefront of a local competition to build a new home for the San Diego Chargers.
While the report gives more details on potential sites, it’s still unclear exactly how the new stadium would be financed, and who would pay for necessary infrastructure changes.
The report details four sites, two of which have the most potential for a new stadium. One of the potential sites is on the waterfront, with Interstate 5 to the east and San Diego Bay to the west. The other is more inland, near Otay Mesa.
These sites were touted for their land availability and access to roadways and public transportation, however Chula Vista City Councilman and Deputy Mayor John McCann said some improvements would be necessary to accommodate stadium crowds. The report does not specify who would pay for these changes.
The report also doesn’t detail how the Chargers would finance the stadium. The team is trying a novel approach of privately funding a stadium by surrounding it with office, retail housing or other development, but the Chula Vista report does not specify which of these approaches could be used in the city.
McCann said Chula Vista is going to conduct a finance study.
“I think if the community comes together, if the city comes together and the Chargers come together, and we all work toward a common goal we can make it happen,” McCann said.
As of right now, Chula Vista has strong competition from only one other local city. Oceanside is expected to release its report soon on a potential stadium site on a current golf course near Interstate 5. Oceanside has already expressed a desire to build offices near the site to generate funding.
Mark Fabiani, an attorney for the Chargers who acts as the team’s spokesman, said Chula Vista’s report was a “great foundation” on which to build a plan. He said the team is dedicated to staying in San Diego County and making sure no public funds are used to build the stadium, and part of choosing a site will be listening to what the public thinks.
“We were very impressed with (the report’s authors) creativity, with their knowledge. With their depth of experience in this area,” Fabiani said. “The building has to happen by the public and by the elected officials of the city.”
The Chula Vista City Council is expected to discuss this report at a meeting next Tuesday night, and will hold several forums to gauge public opinion and gather input.
If either of the Chula Vista sites is chosen, it could be five years or more before a single football game is played there. The stadium itself would take 32 months to build, Fabiani said. Planning, environmental reviews and inevitable lawsuits would take about two years before construction. In addition, the waterfront site is currently home to a power plant that would need to be disassembled.
The Otay Mesa site was chosen in large part for its proximity to state Route 125 and incoming infrastructure for a university campus, none of which are yet completed.
McCann said he was hopeful the city’s infrastructure plans would be accelerated if the Chargers decided to build a stadium there.
In addition to practical concerns like road building and trolley tracks, Chula Vista also has a cloud hanging over it due to the recent problems with another planned development on the bayfront. Gaylord Entertainment had been planning to build a large development on the city’s waterfront, but labor negotiations broke down. The project is not totally off the table, but there has been speculation that the Chargers could run into similar problems.
Jerry Butkiewicz, chief executive officer of the San Diego-Imperial Counties Labor Council, said that from what he has seen, the Chargers have always supported local workers. He hasn’t spoken in detail with the team, but remained optimistic that they will be able to work together.
“I do believe that the Chargers will be committed to local hire on a Chargers stadium,” he said.
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