Chargers to focus efforts downtown

For the San Diego Chargers, the future may still be in San Diego. When the Chargers closed in on their 30-14 win against the Miami Dolphins back in December of last year in the team’s home finale, a lot of tears were shed. Frustration mounted in the parking lot from fans, and players felt hapless about whether or not they had played their last game in a city that had embraced them.

“I’m still soaking it in,” said punter Mike Scifres. “It was a great day to go out this way. The environment was fantastic and the fans really let us hear it. To give the fans a win today says a lot about the guys in this locker room, the coaching staff, and everyone involved with our plan for the week. It means a lot for us to give back to the fans who support us week and week out.”

A lot has changed since then. The Chargers were looking at the possibility of sharing a stadium in Inglewood with the Los Angeles Rams (that possibility still exists), but have opted to return to San Diego for at least one more year. Now it looks as though the pursuit of a more longterm deal has caught fire and could result in the franchise staying put in San Diego.

San Diego Chargers fans wait for players to sign their memorabilia at Qualcomm Stadium. Photo by Dennis J. Freeman/News4usonline.com
San Diego Chargers fans wait for players to sign their memorabilia at Qualcomm Stadium. Photo by Dennis J. Freeman/News4usonline.com

That seem to be a wise decision, especially when you consider the fan base for the Chargers have community-like atmosphere around the team. The Chargers may not get that kind of love in Los Angeles the way the fans in San Diego has supported them over the years. Judging by the latest move by the franchise, an extension between the Chargers and the city looks as if it could come to fruition as the team announced its plans to try to keep the team in San Diego.

STATEMENT ON BEHALF OF THE SAN DIEGO CHARGERS

We have spent the last month evaluating the leading San Diego stadium sites and financing proposals. During that time, led by Chargers Special Advisor Fred Maas, we have engaged in regular discussions with Mayor Faulconer, Supervisor Roberts, City Attorney Goldsmith, and City and County negotiators. And we have carefully evaluated the arguments made by the Mayor and others regarding the merits of the Mission Valley site.

We agree that, in many respects, the arguments for Mission Valley are compelling. At the same time, we have considered the potential benefits to both the greater San Diego region and the Chargers of a multi-use stadium/convention center facility downtown. The multi-use facility, when combined with Petco Park, the existing Convention Center, the Gaslamp Quarter, and a revitalized East Village, would create an unparalleled entertainment and sports district that will host Super Bowls and will ideally be a permanent home for Comic-Con and a Comic-Con museum.

Quarterback Philip Rivers signs autographs after the San Diego Chargers final home game of the 2015 season. Photo by Dennis J. Freeman/News4usonline.com
Quarterback Philip Rivers signs autographs after the San Diego Chargers final home game of the 2015 season. Photo by Dennis J. Freeman/News4usonline.com

All of our research demonstrates that voters are more likely to approve a multi-use facility that would generate economic activity on hundreds of days per year, including by attracting major sporting and convention events that San Diego cannot now host. The downtown multi-use facility would also free up the existing Mission Valley site for potential use by educational institutions such as San Diego State University and UCSD, as well as for a large riverfront park.

For these reasons, the Chargers will begin collaborating immediately with the existing diverse citizens’ coalition led by Donna Frye and JMI Realty that has already been formed in favor of a downtown convention center expansion and educational and recreational uses in Mission Valley. Our goal is to win voter approval in November 2016 for a downtown multi-use stadium/convention center facility and to facilitate the best possible community uses for the existing Mission Valley site.

Tailgating the San Diego Chargers way. The J2 Crew hang out and pose for the camera. Photo by Dennis J. Freeman/News4usonline.com
Tailgating the San Diego Chargers way. The J2 Crew hang out and pose for the camera. Photo by Dennis J. Freeman/News4usonline.com

We will deliver regular reports to our fans and to the community about the progress we are making. We believe that a downtown multi-use facility will attract broad support from throughout our entire community. And we hope that, as our downtown proposal is developed and as the campaign for passage begins, those who have supported the Mission Valley site will keep an open mind and consider supporting what we believe is the best way to secure a permanent home for the Chargers in San Diego.

We are very grateful for all of the hard work that Mayor Faulconer, Supervisor Roberts and City Attorney Goldsmith have done on behalf of the City and County over the past few weeks and look forward to maintaining a dialogue as our plans move forward.

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