San Diego Chargers urge Coastal Commission against Convention Center expansion plan

Team cites waterfront environmental concerns

SAN DIEGO - The San Diego Chargers, an investment firm and a developer urged the California Coastal Commission to stop the expansion of the Convention Center, citing environmental concerns and other proposed space downtown that would include retractable seating.

In memos obtained by 10News Sports Director Ben Higgins, the Chargers ask the commission to consider another option for the proposed convention center expansion plan.

"We believe it would be a mistake from both an environmental and business standpoint to concentrate such extreme mass and density at what is already a stressed coastal site," according to the memo, which was sent by Mark Fabiani, special counsel to the president of the Chargers.

"The Convention Center's expansion needs can be better met with a more dynamic project that is both greener and more marketable," Fabiani wrote.

The Chargers would like a new stadium outside the coastal zone, and the organization proposed a "multi-purpose facility east of Tailgate Park" downtown.

Away from the coast, Fabiani said San Diego would have a "convention experience that is more integrated into San Diego's restaurant and shopping neighborhoods."

Another memo obtained by 10News is from Colony Capital LLC, an investing firm in San Francisco. It also was sent to the Coastal Commission and urges an alternative to a Convention Center expansion.

"The multi-use facility of the kind the Chargers and Colony are contemplating will vault the San Diego region into competition for the largest and greatest events," Colony's letter said.

Kansas City based developer Populous also sent the Commission a letter that asks for an alternative to a new Convention Center.

Populous was asked by the Chargers to evaluate a good space for its proposed "multi-purpose" facility -- whether 250,000 square feet of convention space could also be used for events like the Super Bowl, the NCAA Final Four, concerts and political conventions.

"Our research and past experience has shown it is possible to do this and do it well," the memo from Populous said.

Populous has build things such as the new Yankee Stadium, Wembley Stadium and PETCO Park.

For the Chargers, the developer proposed an exhibition floor up to 200,000 square feet with retractable seating at field level, meeting and ballroom space up to 180,00 square feet and a 16,000-square-foot kitchen.

The Chargers also included what it called a "Fact Sheet" in its letter to the commission. It said the Convention Center Authority never ordered studies that included a larger, separate project that would attract large events.

It also pointed out the city's own studies recognized "the largest conventions do not now consider San Diego and will still not consider San Diego even if the existing expansion plan is implemented."

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