WHERE TO NOW, CHARGERS?
The pubic has spoken. They don’t want a squeezed-in bulk of a stadium and disconnected convention center crowding into the popular East Village urban residential area. The big conventions don’t want to be separated from the bayside meeting center. No sensible taxpayer wants the undisclosed risk of cost and maintenance of a fancy new stadium that benefits a wealthy sport-team owner and the exclusive NFL monopoly.
The poling results were quite conclusive on the two ballot Propositions C and D. Both failed to get a simple majority when a two-thirds was needed. The public simply did not support a new facility that had so many uncertain costs.
So where do the Chargers go now? Some city leaders suggest working out a deal at the negotiating table that removes financial risk to San Diego taxpayers. Does the team stay in a renovated Qualcomm Stadium? Their last option is to fall into a minority partnership with Stan Kroenke and his grandiose stadium complex in Los Angeles for the Rams.
The Spanos family is not keen to be second fiddle to Kroenke. However, the NFL has not offered any second choice to enter the Los Angeles market. It’s a perfect example of being caught between a rock and a hard place.
What are the issues blocking a suitable financial plan for a new stadium? Why is the proposed new location for the stadium unpopular? The negative balloting did not necessarily define the public’s rejection. It’s December 2016 and the NFL stadium issue is right back where it was in December 2015. It’s déjà vu all over again.
It appears the Chargers may pick up their Los Angeles option reluctantly offered by the NFL leaders. The standoff in San Diego is about Spanos considering only downtown for the stadium and Mayor Faulconer with many city leaders still preferring Mission Valley.
The bottom line is there are no scheduled meetings to consider options before the January 15 option date for the Chargers to move to Los Angeles under the NFL mandate. Will the Chargers be happy in the Los Angeles Coliseum, now 84 years old, or the Rose Bowl, much older than Qualcomm, which they consider inadequate.
Sport columnist Kevin Agee summed up the gridlock in a simple statement that the Chargers essentially say they won’t say anything until January; the city is saying that it can’t do anything until the Chargers say something. There it is, a standoff waiting for the first one to blink while the clock is ticking.
Agee also believes Mayor Faulconer is committed to expend his political capital to a stadium site in Mission Valley. Why can’t Dean Spanos even discuss that option? There is plenty of parking, two adjoining freeways, a trolley line and 166 acres to consider additional development. I suspect there is some hidden advantage for Spanos to be downtown where the proposed stadium-convention center annex could be the catalyst for developers (think John Moores) to build hotels right next door.
Is all this new financial burden necessary for a city with serious infrastructure needs and a pension fund $2.4 billion underfunded? A wise man said football was made for television. That’s where the money is. Most of the NFL fans watch football in the sports bar or at home for a fraction of the cost to go to a stadium.
A study by Sports Illustrated magazine discloses how much the NFL gets for its teams from television rights. Beginning at $67 million in 1974, contracts for television rights exploded to $6.5 billion in 40 years to enhance the profitable NFL operations.
At my blog-posting time, the public reaction to four members of San Diego’s City Council offering the Mission Valley Qualcomm site to Dean Spanos for $1.00 a year on a 99-year lease is creating a further backlash against public support for football. What a hair-brained idea to give away a valuable city asset to a billionaire.
Estimates for the property value of 166 acres in a prime location could be $200 million, according to Gary London, a San Diego veteran real estate advisor, and the councilpersons want to give it away? Here is a Cory Briggs’ public-interest lawsuit waiting to tie-up any further progress.
As for relocating in Los Angeles, columnist Agee predicts if Spanos insists it’s his way or the highway, let him sit in traffic on 405.