SAN FRANCISCO — San Diego Mayor Jerry Sanders has entered negotiations with the San Diego Chargers in hopes of reaching a stadium deal that would keep the National Football League team in the city.
“Over the past six months, the mayor’s office and the Chargers have met a half a dozen times to talk about various areas and various concepts, primarily in the downtown area,” Sanders spokesman Darren Pudgil said in an interview earlier this week. “We are going to continue those discussions and see if we can come up with sometime of plan for a specific site downtown.”
The story was first reported by the San Diego Union-Tribune.
The Chargers play at the 71,500-seat Qualcomm Stadium, which was built in 1967. The team has said for years that it needs a new home and has been exploring sites in the San Diego County cities of Escondido, Oceanside, Chula Vista, and National City.
Locals are worried that the team could leave San Diego for the Los Angeles area, where developer Ed Roski is seeking an NFL team for a new, 75,000-seat stadium in the City of Industry.
Sanders — who has previously insisted that San Diego would not subsidize construction of a new stadium, —met with Chargers owner Dean Spanos two weeks ago about the possibility of building a new stadium on a 15-acre site near Petco Park, the city’s downtown baseball stadium, the Union Tribune said.
Sanders is considering ways to help with the new football project, including using city funds to support infrastructure around the stadium or using redevelopment dollars for the $1 billion undertaking, Pudgil said.
“We are looking at ways that other cities have funded a football stadium,” he said. “We’re doing a deep dive into that right now.” It’s too early for specific details of how the city would finance a contribution to a stadium effort if a deal is reached, the spokesman said.
The city primarily used hotel taxes to back the municipal bonds that financed its portion of the $450 million Petco Park project earlier in the decade.
San Diego, California’s second-largest city behind Los Angeles, has been one of the state’s most active municipal bond issuers this year, as it caught up on refundings and infrastructure financing that was delayed by a pension and muni bond disclosure scandal that rocked the city before Sanders took over earlier in the decade.