SAN DIEGO (CN) — Uncertainty surrounds the San Diego Chargers' future in the city after voters overwhelming rejected a downtown stadium plan in Tuesday's election.
Measure C, which would have increased the city's hotel tax rate from 12.5 percent to 16.5 percent, required 2/3 of voters to approve it since it's a tax hike for a specific purpose.
But the ballot measure failed 57 percent to 43 percent, according to unofficial results released Wednesday by the San Diego County Registrar of Voters.
While the results are not necessarily surprising — several polls predicted Measure C would resoundingly fail — the limited support could affect how the Chargers move forward, as team owner Dean Spanos mentioned in an interview this past Friday.
"If we get 30-35 percent support, that says one thing. If we get 55-60 percent, that says something entirely different," Spanos told NBC San Diego. "I want to see the outcome. I want to see what the voter support is."
Measure C would have built a $1.8 billion stadium in downtown San Diego, using $1.15 billion in bonds after raising hotel taxes.
Projections that hotel-tax revenue would fall short of what the team anticipated, along with potential cost overruns, likely led many voters to reject the measure. Prolonged and bitter contract negotiations with Joey Bosa, the Chargers' first-round pick, and general ambivalence toward Spanos among San Diego voters, also likely contributed to Measure C's ultimate failure.
An advertising campaign in the months before the election focused on making opposing fans and tourists pay for the stadium, and highlighted how keeping the Chargers would confirm San Diego's status as a major city. The strategy failed to generate the necessary support to pass the measure, however, and polls showed consistently low approval for the downtown stadium plan.
Donna Frye, a former city councilwoman, sued San Diego in September, claiming it put misleading language on her competing ballot measure to revamp the San Diego Convention Center and develop a path toward a new professional football stadium.
After the final results, Spanos wrote a letter to fans in which he thanked them for their support but did not specifically address the likelihood of staying in San Diego.
"We are going to diligently explore and weigh our options, and do what is needed to maintain our options, but no decision will be announced until after the football season concludes and no decision will be made in haste," Spanos wrote. "In terms of what comes next for the Chargers, it's just too early to give you an answer.
"Thank you again for believing in the Chargers. Everyone on the team and in my family appreciates your loyal support and continued patience, and look forward to an exciting rest of the season."
If negotiations between the city and the team stall, Spanos could explore sharing Los Angeles Rams owner Stan Kroenke's new stadium.
Spanos has until Jan. 15 to decide whether he will stay in San Diego or joins Kroenke.
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