There are multiple plans on the table for a new Stadium that the Mayor, Chargers, and Stadium Taskforce are considering. My plan is to build a new stadium and convention center annex as a contiguous expansion to the Convention Center. This will be the Phase 4 Expansion and I have included 2 options for the plan which will not hamper the Phase 3 project. The new facility would add convention hall and conference room space for the Convention Center. Being multipurpose, you can host a wide variety of events and the facility would be used year-round. By being multipurpose, you will not run into the current deficiencies of Qualcomm Stadium, since year round convention usage and other events would essentially have the facility pay for itself. The facility will be funded privately. The only money the city would invest into the facility is from the sale of the Qualcomm Stadium site and the Sports Arena. The NFL and Chargers are going to invest close to $500 million, so it would be up to private investors and maybe even an increase in the hotel tax to help fund the project. Note that anyone who invests in the facility would gain residual income from the facility. Those private investors would then be able to spend that money improving their local businesses, thus improving our economy as well. This project will also help boost our economy by bringing construction jobs and more permanent jobs to the region.
This plan will rely heavily on mass transit to get people to and from the game / event, but you still would be able to park and tailgate on game day. Special Tailgate parking will be designated and season ticket holders would have priority. Theoretically prices for season tickets could include access to the tailgating lot and there would be an option for cheaper season passes without tailgate access. There would also be tailgate passes for non-season ticket holders as well along with any leftover season tailgate spots. You would also be able to park at the numerous lots downtown or right at the Convention Center. The Port of San Diego is currently in the preliminary stages in updating their plan for the bay. This includes upgrades to infrastructure, more parking options downtown, more public access and parks, and innovative ideas for improving our waterfront. You can check out the Port of San Diego’s plans on their website (http://portforall.org/). Improvements in regards to freeway access is critical for any stadium design downtown. This would including the involvement of CALTRANS and SANDAG to build a DAR (Direct Access Ramp) from the Freeway to Harbor Blvd to help reduce congestion. Mass Transit will be upgraded to handle the increased capacity of the venue. These improvements can include a new trolley line along with more bus routes and other mass transit alternatives.
Considering the facility would be multipurpose, you would be able to adjust the field level and lower seating to fit your event. This works by using modular seating on the lower levels. A great example I like to use for this concept is a High School gymnasium bleacher. These bleachers can be adjusted to support a variety of events or sports. This means you could host sporting events such as soccer basketball, hockey, and others. On top of that, you could easily host the Final Four, the Super Bowl, major college football bowl games, Pro Bowls, the World Cup, and major concerts. Another event that San Diego would be able to host after this facility is built, would be the Summer Olympics. San Diego has their next chance to host the event in 2028 since we lost the 2024 bid.
You could also use the facility for conventions and other events. By having a bigger convention center, or by using the stadium as exhibit hall space, you could run multiple conventions at once. San Diego hosts big name medical conventions, Military conventions, Comic Con, the Auto Show and a wide variety of events that attract conventioneers year-round. Considering the fact that 2016 might be the last year that Comic Con is in San Diego, a contiguous facility would meet the future needs of that convention and they would stay in San Diego. Currently the San Diego Convention Center Corporation is working out financing options for Phase 3 due to an appellate court ruling. This new financing plan should be ready by the end of the year or sooner, followed quickly by the construction phase since the Coastal Commission has already approved of the design.
The multipurpose aspect will be great for bigger conventions such as Comic Con. For example, big companies could rent out the space for an interactive booth within the Stadium. This would be similar to what Marvel did with the Marvel Experience event going on at the Del Mar Fairgrounds. Another example would be the Walking Dead obstacle course set up at Petco Park several years ago during the event. The same idea can be applied with bigger panels at Comic Con. You could move the two biggest panel rooms, Hall H and Ballroom 20, to either Petco Park or the new stadium. This would allow for people to get in and out of the big panels with ease thus allowing for them to spend money and interact downtown or back inside the exhibit hall. It would also improve safety as well since you wouldn’t have people camping out all night to see a panel. This is a huge safety concern and the problem has been getting worse every year. Last year, the line for Hall H wrapped all the way around to the park at the South Embarcadero. Security and police patrols had to be increased to check on the people in line, which in theory could take them away from other areas within the community. Therefor using the stadium for the big panels makes the most sense and would increase efficiency as well.
Optional upgrades that could coincide with the Phase 4 project could be an expansion to the downtown I-5 corridor. This includes a possible local bypass setup similar to one between SR-56 and the I-5 / I-805 merge. Redevelopment of the train yard / trolley depot east of the 10th Avenue Marina Terminal could be an option for parking or for structures to be built. I would also like to see the 10th Avenue Marina Terminal modernized and visually improved so that it fits nicer with downtown.
So now it’s up to you to pick your favorite plan. My preferred plan is Option B since it is more proactive and would be more beneficial to the community. Below the picture is a link to both plans and the link to the PDF which I shared with the Mayor and other county officials, along with the Chargers. Note the current revision is Revision #2.
Click here for the PDF: Phase 4 SDCC Expansion Revision #2
Alternative Link: Click here if the above link doesn't work
Note that this is still an ongoing project and the new Stadium Taskforce is looking at all viable plans including how a project could be funded. The goal of the taskforce is to have a plan on the Mayors desk by the Fall of 2015. The taskforce’s goal is to have the plan on his desk in advance of the deadline.