Chargers to host signature-gathering effort Saturday

SAN DIEGO -- As expected, the San Diego Chargers will start gathering signatures for a citizens’ initiative effort to build a stadium and convention center expansion in downtown San Diego.

The event will be in the parking lot of the proposed site for the new, $1.8 billion facility, 11 a.m. Saturday at 13th Street and K Street in the East Village section of downtown San Diego, next to Petco Park.

NFL commissioner Roger Goodell is expected to attend, along with Chargers Chairman Dean Spanos, quarterback Philip Rivers and former Chargers running back LaDainian Tomlinson.

The event offers residents of the city of San Diego an opportunity to both register to vote and sign the Initiative to place the citizens’ initiative on the Nov. 8 ballot.

The team also is expected to reveal preliminary renderings of the project on Saturday.

The Chargers proposed San Diego raise its transient occupancy tax, which is paid for by visitors staying at hotels, from 12.5 percent to 16.5 percent.

The revenue collected by the city would go to pay the debt service on $1.15 billion in bonds issued to help pay for land acquisition and construction of an expanded convention center for the new stadium project, projected to cost $800 million, along with a third of the cost for a new $1 billion stadium, projected at $350 million.

The Chargers and the NFL would contribute $650 million. The NFL would be responsible for $300 million, including $200 million from the G4 stadium loan program and a $100 million gift negotiated as part of the Rams moving back to Los Angeles. The Chargers would contribute $350 million.

The initiative also creates a marketing fund for the city to help promote tourism and conventions in San Diego.

The Chargers have to qualify the measure for the ballot, which requires 66,447 valid signatures certified by the office of the registrar by mid-June, presented to the San Diego city clerk’s office and ultimately approved by the city council.

The city council can either vote to adopt the initiative or place the measure on the ballot. If placed on the ballot, city voters will get an opportunity to vote on the measure during the Nov. 8 presidential election.

The team’s goal is to collect 100,000 signatures over a six-week period, creating a buffer in order to have enough signatures certified.