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San Diego voters reject Chargers stadium initiative

They needed two-thirds of the vote to approve Measure C, a law that asked taxpayers to pay for more than half of a $1.8 billion project. It failed.

NFL: Preseason-San Francisco 49ers at San Diego Chargers Orlando Ramirez-USA TODAY Sports

There was a big vote on Tuesday, and it had nothing to do with the next President of the United States. Residents of San Diego overwhelmingly voted against Measure C, a Chargers-backed stadium plan that will determine whether or not the team would get its new stadium in the city.

Team chairman Dean Spanos issued a statement Wednesday thanking Chargers fans for their support of the measure. He said the team is weighing available options before moving forward.

“In terms of what comes next for the Chargers, it's just too early to give you an answer,” Spanos’ statement read. “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.”

The stadium deal has already been worked out. It’s a $1.8 billion venue (including the land and convention center surrounding it) that seats 62,000 with a retractable roof. The Chargers would contribute $650 million of the costs for the stadium with a $300 million loan from the NFL and $350 million from the team through seat licenses and other sources. Measure C would fill the rest of the funding by raising the hotel tax.

The biggest obstacle to passing the measure was that it required a two-thirds vote to pass, which was very much a tall task.

“I’m sadly pessimistic about the outcome,” Ron Mix, the Chargers’ Hall of Fame offensive tackle, told the San Diego Union-Tribune. “It would be difficult for anything to pass by two-thirds, especially since the opposition is characterizing it as tax increase. Technically it is, but it’s the people outside of San Diego who stay in our hotels.”

Because the Chargers were unable to get the votes needed, the team still has the option to go to Los Angeles and share a facility with the Rams. They could also look elsewhere, like the Raiders have done, or simply just try again in San Diego.

Spanos said Tuesday that if the measure got at least 50 percent but still doesn’t meet the two-thirds threshold, he won’t necessarily give up on the Chargers in San Diego and will start exploring other solutions. However, if the vote gets less than 40 percent, it will “tell him something.”

Former Chargers tight end Kellen Winslow was ready for the entire process to be over, and hoped there was a backup in case the vote fell through. “If it doesn’t pass, I just hope the city and Chargers have a Plan B versus, ‘We’ve got to figure it out,’” Winslow said. “It’s been going on too long to be figuring it out. That Plan B should be done already. That’s leadership.”

The failure of Tuesday’s vote in San Diego will have a big effect on the Chargers’ franchise and citizens of San Diego. What that will be has yet to be seen.