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Exhibition World Issue 76
Issue 76
Supplement: Basque Country
Supplement: Bright lights, big cities
CHARGERS PLAY TO STOP EXPANSION PLANS OF SAN DIEGO CONVENTION CENTER
posted on: 9/9/2013 09:16:23
65994487San Diego CC 2

AMERICAS - The San Diego Chargers Amercian football team, an investment firm and a developer have urged the California Coastal Commission to stop the expansion of the city’s convention centre, citing environmental concerns. The blocking move by the trio has also urged the commission to consider another out of town option for the proposed centre expansion plan.

"We believe it would be a mistake from both an environmental and business standpoint to concentrate such extreme mass and density at what is already a stressed coastal site," ran a memo sent by the Chargers’ lawyers to the Commission.

"The [San Diego] Convention Center's expansion needs can be better met with a more dynamic project that is both greener and more marketable," the memo said.

The Chargers would like a new stadium outside the coastal zone and a multi-purpose facility east of Tailgate Park downtown is one idea floated by the team who claimed the idea would give San Diego a "convention experience that is more integrated into San Diego's restaurant and shopping neighborhoods".

The Chargers complained that the Convention Center Authority never ordered studies that included a separate project that would attract large events. The team's lawyers claim studies by the city authorities recognise "the largest conventions do not now consider San Diego and will still not consider San Diego even if the existing expansion plan is implemented".

Carol Wallace, President and CEO of the San Diego Convention Center Corporation defended the current proposal on the table to expand the footprint at the current San Diego Convention Center site.

“Contrary to suggestions we are trying to build a ‘big box on the bay’," she said, “the proposed expansion is an environmentally designed expansion that provides a five-acre rooftop park and public plaza that protects view corridors, enhances public access and safety, and activates an underused part of San Diego’s downtown waterfront. Most importantly to our clients, it meets their needs well  into the future for a contiguous hall that allows exhibitors and attendees to meet in one location.

"Six different configurations for a convention centre at the site identified by the Chargers for a joint-use stadium were thoroughly evaluated and rejected as not viable by a task force of San Diegans created in 2009 by Mayor Jerry Sanders.”

The Task Force report had concluded the following: “The Tailgate site evaluation found that an active earthquake fault ran through the middle of the proposed site…feedback from convention centre clients indicated the facility would not meet their primary needs of a contiguous space and it was located too far from the current facility to be considered for use by large clients needing more space than currently exists in the current convention centre.”

Wallace said the centre’s clients, when interviewed about the proposed Chargers site, had rejected a non-contiguous expansion as not meeting their needs.

The Task Force report added: “The goal for the San Diego Convention Center is to host more large shows (that don’t fit currently); and host more events simultaneously; and make move-in/move-out more efficient, therefore the highest probability for success could be expected from an expansion that uses contiguous space.

“A non-contiguous building if it is further than directly across the street, is not an expansion by definition to meeting planners – it would result in two completely different venues; basically no major conventions and tradeshows (or consumer shows) would book both venues at the same time.”

Wallace added that while her company appreciated the Chargers effort to build a new stadium, the SDCC would continue its efforts to secure the California Coastal Commissions support and “work to ensure the successful expansion of the San Diego Convention Center”.

Do you have news for CMW? Email: pcolston@mashmedia.net

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