Chargers stadium now faces higher public vote hurdle

Proposed San Diego Stadium. (MANICA Architecture)
Proposed San Diego Stadium. (MANICA Architecture)

San Diego’s hurdle to site a new stadium just got a little higher.

The California Supreme Court stayed a lower court ruling allowing proposed tax increases like the one planned to pay for San Diego’s stadium to pass via a simple majority. That means that the measure to raise taxes to pay for the stadium must now pass by a two-thirds majority, not a simple one.

The Chargers’ ballot initiative seeks to raise the hotel tax to 16.5 percent from 12.5 percent to help pay for the city’s share of the $1.8 billion stadium project. The Chargers have committed $650 million, with the NFL contributing $300 million and another $350 million coming from the ownership group and the sales of personal seat licenses and the like.

The state Supreme Court’s decision to review the Fourth District Court of Appeal’s ruling means that it’s highly unlikely the ballot initiative will be reduced to the simple majority in time for the November ballot. The state Supreme Court typically takes years, not weeks, to review its cases.

Both team and city officials say they were proceeding with the expectation of having to hit a two-thirds majority already, and that this decision comes as no surprise. But it certainly makes the city’s chances of passing the ballot initiative that much more difficult.

Some back-of-the-envelope math: San Diego has 2.6 million voting-age residents. The Chargers submitted 110,786 signatures to place the measure on the ballot earlier this month.

Worth noting: the Chargers stadium measure is a citizen-backed initiative, not a government-backed one. The state Supreme Court had ruled in 2014 that citizen-backed initiatives are not subject to the stringent California Environmental Quality Act. As a result of that ruling, stadium plans took flight in both Carson (via the Raiders and Chargers) and Inglewood (via the Rams).

Jay Busbee is a writer for Yahoo Sports and the author of EARNHARDT NATION, on sale now at Amazon or wherever books are sold. Contact him at or find him on Twitter or on Facebook.