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There’s two ways to interpret the Chargers’ reaction to the city/county plan announced Friday to work together in dealing with the team’s push for a new stadium. The team’s response – disappointment at the fact that that National City and Chula Vista weren’t included – could be taken as a sign that the team is seriously interested in the two South Bay suitors. Chargers critics likely take it another way – that the team is swatting away a city proposal in their march out of town.
Although some scoffed at first at the idea of a mid-size city like Chula Vista or National City fielding a team, the two ideas put forth are legitimate and will be getting plenty of attention as the Jan. 1 deadline approaches (at which time the team can talk with others from outside San Diego County about relocation). But, of Chula Vista and National City, which site is the most attractive?
Both have plusses and minuses. Here’s how they breakdown:
- National City has waterfront land, easy access to Interstate 5 and the trolley, and is a quick shot from downtown San Diego. That’s a big plus. But it’s government-owned land. And the government that wants to build the stadium isn’t the one that owns the land. That means lots of government and lots of hurdles.
National City wants the stadium to spur economic development; the port owns the land and would have to acquiesce to the city’s desires. And all of that might have to happen relatively quickly. Additionally, many are fond of the waterfront businesses already in place on the 52-acre lot, and some other land in the county would have to be identified to host the accompanying development that the team plans to use to finance the stadium construction.
National City has a roster with experience. City Manager Chris Zapata worked for the city of Glendale, Ariz., when it pulled of deals to build a professional hockey arena and a football stadium. It has employed Les Girard as its attorney. Girard handled Chargers and Padres issues for the city of San Diego.
- The Chula Vista plot is further from the region’s main thoroughfares and wouldn’t have trolley access. But it’s got one big plus that National City doesn’t: private land. Residential developer HomeFed Corp. owns 3,000 acres of land. And they’re very interesting in doing a deal with the team. In fact, they wanted to do a deal with the team back when it was still trying to make its first proposal at the Qualcomm site in Mission Valley work. The two sides have met numerous times and are arranging for a meeting this week. Private land certainly makes a deal easier logistically.
The question there, said team counsel Mark Fabiani, is whether the addition of a stadium increases the overall worth of the HomeFed plot enough to justify the corporation’s investment in the stadium.
“That’s something we’re working hard with HomeFed” to answer, Fabiani said.
(Scroll down for more background.)