2,700 Hotel Rooms Are Available, but They'll Be Going, Going, Gone

Times Staff Writer

The Super Bowl is 10 days away and there are still about 2,700 hotel rooms in the San Diego region and Tijuana available for the big weekend, officials from the Convention & Visitors Bureau said Wednesday.

But those rooms are going fast, as ConVis reports receiving 600 phone calls a day from fans of the two competing teams, the Washington Redskins and Denver Broncos, asking about room availability.

Many of the available rooms, though, are well away from the stadium--in Oceanside, Carlsbad, Escondido and in parts of East County. There are about 500 vacant rooms in Tijuana hotels and others in Orange County and Palm Springs. Almost all require a minimum stay of three to four days.

By game day on Jan. 31, it's expected that most of the county's 35,000 hotel rooms, plus another 3,500 or so outside the county, will be booked, ConVis president Dal Watkins said at a press conference called by the San Diego Super Bowl Task Force, the organization of business and government leaders responsible for preparing the city for the Super Bowl.

11,000 Rooms Guaranteed

The city, as part of its Super Bowl bid to the National Football League, guaranteed the NFL 11,000 rooms, most of which are located in the city's better hotels. Rates for those rooms were guaranteed at their 1985 cost plus 6%. Hotels not involved in providing those 11,000 rooms, however, were under no obligation to hold down rates.

While there have been instances of some price gouging, Watkins said such practices have been kept to a minimum. In cases where ConVis and the Hotel Motel Assn. has received complaints, Watkins said, the groups have applied pressure on the hotel operators and the higher rates have been rescinded. He declined to name the hotels involved, except to say they were smaller, independent hotels.

"You are going to have some price gouging . . . but the NFL has told us it thinks the hotel rates" are fair, said Watkins, who said prices are averaging about $130 a night for a deluxe room, $80 to $90 for something not as plush, and as low as $39 a night at some of the budget hotels and motels.

"They did raise their prices, no doubt about it," said Watkins about some hotels. "But we've no complaints though of people saying, 'Your town is taking us to the cleaners.' "

Among other topics discussed at the press conference, the second in two days to outline the Super Bowl Task Force's final preparations, officials from U.S. Customs and the Immigration and Naturalization Service said they are ready to launch "Operation Touchdown."

More Inspectors

The central component of this project is the addition of more inspectors at both the San Ysidro and Otay Mesa border crossing.

That means that starting this weekend and continuing through the Super Bowl, the number of vehicle inspection lanes available at the San Ysidro crossing--the world's busiest international crossing--will be increased from 12 to an average of 20 from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. Also, a modified system of checking buses for illegal aliens also will be instituted.

San Diego police Capt. David Hall, who is coordinating much of the department's traffic control response to next week's Super Bowl activities, said he expects next Thursday to be especially busy, because that is when the largest influx of arriving fans is expected in the city. He urged San Diegans to exercise patience because many of the out-of-towners will be unfamiliar with local streets and locations.

"Be patient with those who are lost on the highway," he said.

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