Padres’ Park Construction Suspended
SAN DIEGO (AP) _ Construction on the San Diego Padres’ new downtown ballpark will be suspended Oct. 2 because interim funding will run out soon and the city can’t immediately sell $225 million in bonds.
The team expressed frustration at the latest setback to the $450 million stadium, scheduled to open July 4, 2002.
``I was involved in the building of Camden Yards ... and this has been harder by a factor of 10 or 20,″ Padres president Larry Lucchino said. ``It’s just a different time and a different town with a different culture.″
The city gave the Padres $10 million in interim funding to keep construction on schedule, but that will run out at the end of the month. The city is prohibited from selling bonds to finance the ballpark because of an investigation into a stock deal by Councilwoman Valerie Stallings.
The Padres would prefer to find more permanent financing to avoid additional delays but would accept short-term funds, Lucchino said.
The new ballpark is part of an overall downtown redevelopment project. Costs for the ballpark have increased from $410 million to more than $450 million since it was approved by voters in 1999. The city has already spent $90 million and the team has invested about the same.
At least one vocal anti-ballpark activist said he thought the move to suspend construction was a ploy by the Padres to get the city to give more money while bond sales are delayed.
``I have a healthy skepticism that it’s all a bluff in order to force the council’s hand,″ former City Councilman Bruce Henderson.
Henderson, who has filed several unsuccessful lawsuits to stop the project and force the issue of public ballpark funding to another vote, said he doesn’t believe Lucchino’s contention that lawsuits will cost taxpayers more in the end.
The district attorney and the U.S. attorney’s office are conducting investigations into possible wrongdoing by Stallings, the councilwoman who voted to approve the ballpark while profiting from the sale of stock in a Texas software company owned by Padres owner John Moores.
Other private development around the ballpark area was expected to continue, said David Allsbrook, manager of contracting and acquisitions for the Centre City Redevelopment Corp.