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Friday, Oct. 30, 2009 | No need to wonder any more about potential Chargers stadium sites in the city of San Diego: It looks like a site that includes the Wonder Bread building east of Petco Park is it, for now at least.
Mayor Jerry Sanders met with Chargers President Dean Spanos this week to discuss downtown stadium options, Sanders’ spokesman Darren Pudgil said in a statement. The meeting was the first time Sanders and Spanos sat down together since the two sides reignited talks in January, team special counsel Mark Fabiani said.
Pudgil would not confirm that the two talked about the Wonder Bread site. But Fabiani said that site was a subject of this week’s conversation, and added that another location mentioned downtown, the Tenth Avenue Marine Terminal, essentially was off the table for the foreseeable future.
The Wonder Bread site joins Escondido as the Chargers local stadium options. Though Fabiani continues to insist the team’s goal is to stay in the area, the Chargers have been repeatedly speculated as the team most likely to move to a new stadium in the city of Industry. That project, which is 15 miles east of NFL-less Los Angeles, received substantial momentum from the state Legislature and Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger last week.
Pudgil’s statement is the first confirmation from the Mayor’s Office of what has long been assumed: that downtown is it for options inside the city of San Diego.
As they have in the past, the discussion focused on potential sites in the downtown area. While the mayor’s preference is that the team remain in Mission Valley, he believes downtown is the most likely venue for a new stadium.
Mayor Sanders initiated the meeting to continue the dialogue about downtown sites and to ascertain — given the prospect of a new stadium in the city of Industry — that the team is still serious about staying in San Diego and is willing to work with us on potential sites as they have with other cities in the county.
Pudgil’s statement followed our post this morning on a local public relations pro who relayed Fabiani’s comments from a Rotary Club meeting via Twitter. At the Rotary Club, Fabiani mentioned a meeting Tuesday evening between the Mayor’s Office and the Chargers and said that they had discussed the Wonder Bread and Tenth Avenue Marine Terminal sites.
To be sure, this is not the first time the Wonder Bread site has been mentioned. Fabiani has been touting it — variously known as the Tailgate Park and the county transit areas — at least since February.
In his mind, not much is new. You have to acquire the private land and relocate the transit yard to acquire the parcel. And then you have to figure out how to pay for a stadium. He said discussions remained in “preliminary stages.”
“There wasn’t anybody in this meeting that said, ‘Eureka, we’ve found a solution to the $1 billion private financing problem’,” Fabiani said. “The big question is still out there.”
Downtown San Diego is attractive to the Chargers because major infrastructure, such as transportation, is already in place. A downtown location likely would bring down the stadium’s price by a couple hundred million dollars, Fabiani said.
As for the Tenth Avenue Marine Terminal, Fabiani conceded that resistance from the Unified Port District, which controls the land, made the site a non-starter, at least with the Port’s current leadership in place.
“I think it’s pretty clear that the Port is not interested in talking with us about Tenth Avenue Marine Terminal,” he said. “Although some people would still like us to focus on that, I think there’s more and more focus on the site you’d have to assemble and acquire, the site east of Petco Park.”
Longtime Port Commission Chairman Steve Cushman was unequivocal about the terminal. It’s impossible, he said, to have both a stadium and maritime activity there. Among other things, 185 million bananas enter the United States each month through the terminal.
“The answer is no,” Cushman said in an interview.
Cushman later released a statement, saying he hoped discussion about a stadium at the site would end.
“It is time for all idle speculation about such a development to stop,” he said.