By James R. Riffel
City News ServiceA veteran San Diego developer will assist the city in its effort to build a downtown stadium for the Chargers, Mayor Jerry Sanders announced Tuesday.
Fred Maas was, until recently, the chief executive officer of the city’s quasi-independent downtown redevelopment arm, the Centre City Development Corp. He will join Sanders and two other city officials on a whirlwind tour of three cities — Denver, Indianapolis and Kansas City — that have recently built sports and entertainment complexes.
I’ll be talking to the mayors of those three cities,’' Sanders said.
He wants to find out what worked and what turned out to be
blind alleys,’' as he does not want toreinvent the wheel’’ in San Diego.
Sanders said he visited similar areas in Baltimore and Los Angeles while on unrelated business earlier this year.
The sputtering economy and loss of redevelopment as a funding source spurred the idea of making a new football stadium part of a greater entertainment district, which would include Petco Park and the Convention Center.
Maas, who will be an unpaid volunteer special assistant for sports and entertainment, said the idea raises the possibility that San Diego could attract larger events than usually seen in the region.
He specified the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament Final Four, last hosted in San Diego at the Sports Arena in 1975. The event has since grown so large it is now held in domed stadiums.
The Spanos family, which owns the Chargers, has been pushing for a new home for a decade to replace aging Qualcomm Stadium, and their franchise is considered the most likely to move into one of two NFL facilities proposed in and around Los Angeles. The Spanoses have repeatedly expressed their preference to remain in San Diego, however.
Last week, the Los Angeles City Council approved a memorandum of understanding with entertainment giant AEG to build a downtown stadium, an action that reverberated in San Diego with concern that the Chargers might be closer than ever to leaving.
Mark Fabiani, the team’s spokesman on stadium issues, said the same talk has come out of Los Angeles in the past without anything actually happening.
Maas said the proposed Los Angeles stadiums are backed by people with
serious’’ resources, but they have a long way to go before their facilities are built.
“They have their own set of issues and problems they have not yet confronted,’' Maas said.
He said the three cities they will visit are the most comparable to San Diego’s development needs.
Denver’s three major facilities for football, basketball and baseball are located within about a mile and a half from each other near downtown.
In Indianapolis, the Lucas Oil Stadium — home of the NFL’s Colts — sits in a district that includes a convention center, basketball arena, minor league baseball field, playhouse and Amtrak station.
The Kansas City Power & Light District — also known as KC Live — includes 500,000 square feet of entertainment venues, restaurants and shops. It does not have a sports venue and is far from the new Arrowhead Stadium.