Chargers to focus stadium efforts on downtown

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SAN DIEGO (AP) -- The San Diego Chargers say they will focus on trying to get a new stadium built downtown as part of a non-contiguous expansion of the convention center.

The Chargers said in a statement Tuesday that they will partner with an existing citizens' coalition led by former City Councilwoman Donna Frye and JMI Realty, which is owned by former Padres owner John Moores.

The measure could be controversial, especially if any funding would require approval of two-thirds of the voters on the November ballot.

Mayor Kevin Faulconer and County Commissioner Ron Roberts had preferred a new stadium be built at the site of aging Qualcomm Stadium in Mission Valley.

If a measure for a new stadium fails, the Chargers could join the Los Angeles Rams in a stadium in Inglewood scheduled to open in 2019.

The Chargers said in the statement that as the campaign for the downtown site progresses, the team hopes "those who have supported the Mission Valley site will keep an open mind and consider supporting what we believe is the best way to secure a permanent home for the Chargers in San Diego."

The Chargers' attempts to replace Qualcomm Stadium had led to a long and bitter dispute with local officials and ultimately led to the team's efforts to relocate to Los Angeles.

NFL owners in January voted down the Chargers' efforts to partner with the rival Oakland Raiders to build a stadium in Carson. However, the owners gave the Chargers the option to join the Rams.

Although the Chargers agreed in principle to join the Rams, Chargers chairman Dean Spanos announced on Jan. 29 that the team would remain in San Diego at least through 2016 in an attempt to get a new stadium. The NFL will give the Chargers and Raiders each an extra $100 million to go toward new stadiums in their home markets. That's on top of a $200 million loan available to each team.