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National City’s fledgling attempt to lure the Chargers south moved to a new stage today as Port Commissioner Steven Cushman told his colleagues that a football stadium could be constructed on 52-acres of port land without disrupting its maritime operations.

“I believe it is now up to the city of National City and the Chargers to ascertain if this is a viable project and can be financed,” Cushman said.

No formal action was taken by the commissioners, and officials said any future stadium financing plan would have to come back before the board.

“Now’s the time for us and National City to get serious about this,” said Chargers special counsel Mark Fabiani.

He said the team will now begin working on two tracks: attracting the private financing to get the done financially and planning what the bayside stadium site would look like.

“It’s not a pipedream,” said Chris Zapata, National City’s city manager. “It could happen if we have all of our ducks in a row.”

A coalition of maritime industries dependent on the bayfront, including two companies with operations on the 52-acre site, continued to oppose the project, saying it isn’t compatible with the port’s maritime duties. They said the National City plot boasts only one of two deep water ports on San Diego Bay and also pointed out that BNSF Railway owns 20 acres of the 52-acre lot.

The remainder of the land is owned by the port, but falls inside National City’s boundaries.

Cushman was asked to determine if a stadium could fit in the lot without disrupting the port’s maritime operations, such as railroads and automotive companies. Cushman’s determination wasn’t accompanied by a formal study. He said many outstanding issues remain.

“There are many challenges for this potential project, not the least of which are relocation of some tenants, an overall master plan for the whole area, freeway access on and off ramps and railroad alignments,” Cushman said. “These issues were not addressed by us as this was not our charge.”


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