Bringing the NBA to San Diego? A Convadium at Half the Price

Credit: KPBS.com
Credit: KPBS.com

The vote for Measures C and D are just days away. With a 2/3 majority vote needed to pass, Chargers fans across Southern California are waiting nervously as the citizens of San Diego county place their votes for two measures that help decide the fate of NFL in San Diego.

But what happens if they fail? What happens if San Diego Chargers ownership can’t work out a deal with the city to get a downtown stadium? Will they hop on the 15 and go straight to L.A? Will the city lose the team completely?

Most say no, that downtown being the teams “only solution” to staying in SD is just a bluff to bully the city into allowing a downtown stadium. But what happens if it’s not? What happens if the Chargers really do go join the Rams in the City of Angels? The Chargers have been the face of San Diego since 1961. What happens if you just rip that right out of the heart of the city?

The Padres are here yes, of course San Diego State Aztecs football and basketball is a big part of the culture currently, we also have a new hockey team now in the San Diego Gulls. But none of those can combine to amount to the history the Chargers have assembled in the city.

The city of Seattle is desperately trying to bring the SuperSonics back to Seattle, but the addition of the Sonics would give the league an odd number of teams. So, if the Chargers do jump ship to Los Angeles, why not fill that void with a team that would even the NBA out?

What better location for a new team than a city who just had a knife stuck into their backs by the owner of their lifelong favorite team?

Exactly how much would it cost to do this?

In 2004, Petco Park was completed, and ended up with a grand total cost of $456.8 million for land acquisition AND construction. In 1998, the Staples Center began construction, and when finished, cost the city a grand total of $375 million. The Vikings just finished building their stadium this year, and it totaled out to around $1.1 billion. The Chargers convadium proposal would also come out to around $1 billion dollars, with half of that being covered by ownership.

Credit: Getty Images
Credit: Getty Images

The total cost of a brand new top-five ballpark (Petco) and a top NBA stadium (Staple Center), which is home to four different teams, comes out to a grand total cost of $831.8 million. That’s around $200 million short of what one convention center and stadium would cost. So. San Diego needs a convention center, and a new stadium/arena for a team.

Let’s take a look at a newer convention center that has already been built and is currently having expansion plans finalized. Grand Wayne Convention Center opened it’s doors in 2002, ending in a total cost of nine million. Now the city (Orange County) is planning on making expansions to the convention center that would cost around $19 million. So the cost would be about $28 million for a brand new, expanded convention center for the city of San Diego, along with around $400 million for a multipurpose basketball arena, costing the city less than $420 million dollars, assuming the NBA could find an owner who would be willing to put up between one-third to half of the cost. However, even without someone coming in to contribute to the building of an arena, it would be substantially less than half of what it would cost for an NFL convadium.

So, what I’m trying to purpose here, is that the city of San Diego may not be so lost if the Chargers leave. The city could spend about $420 million dollars on a convention center and basketball arena and save somewhere around $680 million compared to what would be spent on building a convadium. The city would also have a team to passionately root for on a nightly basis.

An NBA arena could be used for concerts, big awards ceremonies like the Grammys, and even NHL and NBA All-Star games. Not only would an NBA team bring breath to a city that would have the wind knocked out of them with the Chargers leaving, but it could provide everything a convadium could, at less than half the cost.

Just something to think about if Measures C and D don’t pass. The San Diego Chargers leaving would no doubt be a huge blow to San Diego and is something I 100% do not want to see happen, but…something good could potentially come out of it, IF the city and NBA would be willing to work together. There is still a long way to go though.

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Derek Cluff
Derek is a 22-year-old out of Lemon Grove, California. A burning passion for San Diego sports led him to pursue an opportunity to write and share about what's going on with the teams in America's Finest City. A young and aspiring sports journalist looking to grow his knowledge and expand his experience at any opportunity.

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