Papa Doug Manchester: Why We Must Keep The Chargers in San Diego

Chargers Stadium Rendering

A rendering of the proposed stadium. Petco Park is visible on the far left. Courtesy San Diego Chargers

By Papa Doug Manchester

Petco Park, despite a shaky initiation in 1994, is recognized as one of the best, if not the best, Major League Baseball ballpark in the nation. The residential and commercial zone around the ballpark has transformed what once was a blighted part of San Diego’s downtown district and has extended our skyline. Its presence has boosted tourism and retail, brought in a growing number of financially stable residents and businesses, and boosted our reputation nationally.

I truly believe that San Diego’s iconic port district has the potential to soar to even greater heights. That’s why I’ve continued to remain at the visionary forefront of downtown and waterfront development, and why I have unwavering, outspoken support to keep the Chargers in San Diego — at any cost!

The Chargers discussion, ongoing and, in some quarters, contentious, has generated a tremendous amount of pro and con statistics and sentiment regarding everything from the cost of operations, concern for the level of personal wealth to sustain it, potential revenue streams, community benefit, effect on tourism, traffic, parking, and now, a convention center expansion.

The related discussion regarding the expansion of our convention center, with hundreds of millions of dollars brought into our economy through relationships with iconic organizations like Comic-Con, are vital to our growth and reputation. I believe that we can find a way to keep these relationships flourishing while still supporting an NFL football stadium that will sustain San Diego as a first-tier city.

The potential loss of the San Diego Chargers may not be replaceable.

David O’Neal, a consultant for the San Diego Chargers, said a year-round stream of events at the new facility, which is the current strategy taken by many convention centers around the nation, could help local hotels avoid gaps in booking, typically created by the time needed to dismantle an event at the current convention center and prepare for the next one. A new study noted that the Charger’s project could generate $750 million in new hotel room revenue over the first 10 years of operation, sparked by more than 200,000 new San Diego hotel room nights annually. This is a sustainable concept.

When I was publisher of the San Diego Union Tribune, I commissioned an artist to propose my master plan to convert the 10th Avenue Marine Terminal to a stadium, sports arena and convention center all in one, with a Martin Luther King Jr. walkway and a Caesar Chavez beach with boat slips for our yachting community to go by boat to the various games.

The port commissioner at that time, and other members of the port, shot the idea down due to opposition from the longshoremen’s union, even though union members could have been hired to operate the new complex. Unfortunately we lost that battle, but I am once again encouraging San Diego to make a stadium happen at almost any cost to save the Chargers from leaving. The location, whether downtown or Mission Valley, makes little difference, but let us get it done otherwise we will forever regret. Yes, I’m a fan.

I am a believer in San Diego as the finest city in America, and have strong feelings about what we need to do to keep it that way for future generations. We lost the NBA Rockets and Clippers. We lost the Gulls for a time. Whether we care to admit it, these loses have diminished our standing in the nation as a first-tier city, regardless of our population and reputation as an iconic destination.

The loss of the San Diego Chargers, and the unlikeness of ever having another NFL football team in our community, would damage our spirit and culture. This team has put us on the world stage for decades! Surrendering it truly questions our unity as a world-class city and is an extremely short-sighted vision on behalf of hoteliers, some members of the port district, and a few highly vocal dissenters. Let’s rally for the team. As the Nike slogan so aptly states, let’s “JUST DO IT!”

Article from the Times of San Diego