SAN DIEGO -- A standing-room-only crowd of more than 400 people filled a club suite at Qualcomm Stadium on Monday as fans of the San Diego Chargers took advantage of their first opportunity to weigh in on plans for a new stadium.
The mayor-appointed citizens' stadium advisory group took comments on the potential locations of a new stadium -- the Qualcomm Stadium site and a parcel downtown next to the San Diego Padres' Petco Park -- along with suggestions of how to fund the project.
Most people in attendance clearly supported building a new stadium at Qualcomm. The Mission Valley site recently emerged as the mayor's office's preferred alternative because of escalating real estate prices, the threat of legal action and potential complications in relocating a bus yard's property, which would serve as part of a parcel of land holding a stadium built downtown.
Longtime season-ticket holders remain leery of giving up tailgating in the immense parking lot at Qualcomm Stadium.
The public meeting was the first time that fans could show their support since the Chargers announced a partnership with the Oakland Raiders to build a $1.7 billion NFL stadium the two teams would share in Carson, California.
Chants of "Chargers" and "Save our Bolts" echoed outside in the parking lot during a rally before the meeting. Those cheers continued inside, with the advisory group receiving a standing ovation as they entered the room and took their seats.
Dion Rich, a well-known gate crasher who has sneaked into 35 Super Bowls, was one of several on hand who said the new stadium should be built on the Qualcomm Stadium site.
"They're going to have to have it at Qualcomm," the San Diego native said. "Otherwise, it's going to be eight to 10 years in order to tear down the bus stop downtown. It's not feasible."
However, Chargers fan Jonathan Albert said the best location for a new stadium is downtown.
"The Chargers have always been a big part of my family, so to hear that they are thinking about moving away kind of moved me to get out and support the cause," he said. "Without football, San Diego wouldn't be the same. It's a completely different thing without Sundays."
David Agranoff, co-founder of Save Our Bolts, says his group is indifferent about where the stadium is built.
"There's no preference," Agranoff said. "You can put it in my backyard, as long as we don't have to share it with the Raiders."
Even recently retired Chargers center Nick Hardwick showed up in support.
"The Chargers belong in San Diego," Hardwick said. "For every fan who's ever cheered for a Chargers team and for any guy who's ever worn a uniform, all of our legacies are encapsulated in San Diego. If the team moves, all of the hard work, the cheering and the crowds -- all of the effort that's been put in gets washed away."
Hardwick believes that the Chargers will ultimately stay in San Diego.
"I do believe it gets done," he said. "I believe [the Chargers] are very strategically attacking this, and they've taken a really solid approach, and they are applying pressure at the right time, and it's going to get done."
Earlier Monday, Goldman Sachs, the longtime investment banker of the Chargers, said it was committed to covering any operating losses suffered by the team in the first few years of a potential relocation to Los Angeles, along with any costs for renovations necessary to a temporary venue, according to a report by the Sports Business Journal.