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September 22, 2011

Chargers: It's not just a stadium, it's a convention center!

With their stadium plans still in a holding pattern, San Diego Chargers execs are trying a new tack, suggesting that they could incorporate convention facilities into their new football stadium, which would presumably allow the team to grab a chunk of the $550 million slated to go toward expansion of the San Diego Convention Center:

"We're looking at several options right now, and this is one of them," [Chargers stadium exec Mark] Fabiani said, noting that convention center elements were also part of pro football stadium projects completed in Atlanta, Indianapolis and St. Louis, among other cities.

Yes, though those facilities haven't exactly led to booming convention business. Also, those stadiums are adjacent to existing convention facilities; the Chargers stadium wouldn't be.

In any case, the San Diego city council is now looking into this proposal, with councilmember Carl DeMaio yesterday asking for a list of conventions that have skipped San Diego, and which ones did so because they wanted bigger space, versus those who went elsewhere because the convention center was already booked. "I think that will get to the heart of the argument about contiguous space versus two separate facilities," said DeMaio.

One additional problem with using an NFL stadium as a convention center (aside from that it's a football stadium, not a convention center), notes convention center board member Steve Cushman: Conventions need to be booked years in advance, and the NFL schedule is only set a few months before the season starts. Details, details...


When it comes to convention space and expansions Indianapolis is an exception. While Indianapolis is not the first thing that comes to mind (or top 10)when thinking exciting convention, no city in the US has the advantage of walking everywhere. The city lost 2 yearly conventions due to size and was close to losing a third large convention. One if not both lost conventions have returned.

Yes there are more glamerous cities, but none that match the cost and convenience of Indianapolis. Expect some great comments about the Superbowl in February. Which by the way would never be there without Lucas Oil Stadium. While you will never reoover the cost of the stadium in revenue, my guess is that the convention center expansion has already covered their cost with future conventions in the next 5 years, and it just got completed.

Posted by Bigjer on September 22, 2011 09:20 AM

I went to a concert in Indianapolis (at the Egyptian Room) this years with some friends and I have to say the city was very walkable.

Posted by Joshua Northey on September 22, 2011 11:30 AM

Even if it is a bunk argument it's something that sort of sells in SD. They want to expand their confrence space to keep ComicCon. The sad thing is that it is literally the only event that could fill that space.

Posted by jmauro on September 22, 2011 11:58 PM

Re: Bigjer, the convention center is a nice addition to Indianapolis. My complaint is that some of the reasoning cited for building Lucas Stadium was to allow the convention center to expand. The update of the convection center was piggy backed onto the Lucas build. Supposedly the old dome location didn't allow enough room for the convention center to grow. So we demolished a stadium that was built in 1984 at a cost of 70+ million for a new stadium that cost 750+ million and then updated the convention center for another 250-275 million.

We should have just updated the convention center and save three quarters of a billion dollars.

Posted by IndyRes on September 23, 2011 04:30 PM

IndyRes: yes, but come on, this is no time for rational thought...

Posted by John Bladen on September 24, 2011 02:37 AM

That's what sane people want to do here in San Diego. The best thing about the convention center? The people who will benefit directly from it are going to be the ones paying for it. City residents like me will not pay.

Jmauro, you're wrong about how Comic Con would be the only event that would fill the space. According to the Mayor's commission, there are about 100 events that take place annually which expressed an interest in holding their convention in San Diego but couldn't because we don't have the space for them. There were 381 shows that we had to turn away because we didn't have enough space.

I can't link to it here, but it's on the convention center task force website.

It's so frustrating to me to see people here listening to trying to tie the two things together. One's a money maker for the city and will be paid for without city residents having to cough up the money. The other won't make money for us, and will require city residents to kick in.

And we're talking about tying the loser to the winner?

Posted by Tony on October 3, 2011 07:54 PM

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