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San Diego Chargers' ambitious stadium plans could reinvigorate city centre

By Kim Megson    25 Apr 2016
The stadium will be designed to host future Super Bowls and NFL Drafts / MANICA Architecture

National Football League (NFL) the San Diego Chargers has revealed its vision for a new multi-use stadium and convention facility as part of a campaign to receive public support for the scheme.

The team is seeking a new home to replace its ageing Qualcomm Stadium in San Diego, California. Despite having a chance to relocate and share the future Los Angeles Rams stadium in LA’s Inglewood, the Chargers have prioritised the opening of a new ground in their home city.

The proposed project, designed by Kansas studio MANICA Architecture, would revitalise San Diego City’s East Village downtown by creating a new events space, public realm and leisure zone in addition to a stadium which could host future Super Bowls and NFL Drafts.

“The architecture of the stadium and Convention Center would be unique to its place, and blur the line between indoor and outdoor space with outdoor balconies, operable walls, sustainable plantings, and a scale and feel true to its surroundings,” said the Chargers in a statement.

“That is the beauty of this facility; it is more than a stadium,” said NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell. “It has an ability to host other events and that is something that obviously as an NFL city we’d love to do. We’re making all of those events bigger and more impactful. I think they can have an impact on this community, and I think we’re going to make this successful.”

The Chargers’ owners believe the stadium will activate community facilities such as a museum, coffee shops, restaurants and public park and a sky garden on the roof of the convention centre. The stadium itself could host events, such as the San Diego Boat Show, in a vast column-free space.

The intimate and compact design of the stadium’s seating bowl, covered by a retractable roof, would pull every spectator as close to the event as possible, while opening up views of the downtown skyline from within the stadium. Further information on the design has not yet been released.

On 22 April, nearly 4,000 San Diego joined a signature-gathering campaign for the Citizens’ Initiative, which is backing the scheme. If 66,447 valid signatures from registered city voters are collected by mid-June 2016, a city-wide November ballot will be held to decide the future of the plans.

As part of the outlined proposal, the Chargers would contribute $650m (€577.3m, £450.3m) and agree to a 30-year lease with the City of San Diego. An increased hotel tax in San Diego to 16.5 per cent would fund the remaining cost of the project, which would likely exceed US$1.5bn (€1bn, £1.3bn).

The project has received political backing, including from Californian congressman Darrell Issa, who represents San Diego. He said: “We truly live in the greatest city that anyone could choose to live in. Great cities have to dream big. They have to have the leadership to believe they could do more, and that’s San Diego as I know it.”

The Chargers had previously worked with MANICA to propose a joint stadium in LA with the Oakland Raiders, which was backed by the chief executive of the Walt Disney Company Bob Iger. However, that move collapsed when NFL owners voted for the St Louis Rams to relocate to Inglewood as the LA Rams.

Architects Populous were also commissioned by San Diego City to develop a stadium design for the Chargers, in a bid to keep them in the city, but the franchise now seems to be investing all their efforts in the new MANICA proposal.

MANICA Architecture have created the concept design for the East Village stadium complex / MANICA Architecture
The intimate and compact design of the stadium’s seating bowl would pull every spectator as close to the event as possible / MANICA Architecture
New areas of public realm would be created around the stadium / MANICA Architecture
Restaurants, cafes and a museum are all included in the mixed-use proposal / MANICA Architecture
The Chargers hope that the convention centre would mean the complex is used all year round / MANICA Architecture
A sky garden on the roof of the convention centre would offer panoramic views of the city's downtown / MANICA Architecture
San Diego  San Diego Chargers  Manica architects  NFL  architecture  American Football 
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