City Seal The City of San Diego
HomeContact the City
City Seal
City Seal Business City Hall Community Departments Information Leisure Services A-Z Visiting
Citizens' Task Force on Chargers Issues
Citizens' Task Force on Chargers Issues Home About the Task Force Task Force Meetings Documents
Documents
San Diego Union-Tribune

DON BAUDER

Chargers have hard sell ahead

January 22, 2003

Abstract:
"If you did a real harsh analysis, some people would say there are two realistic alternatives," [David Watson] says. "Either (the Chargers) could pay for (the stadium) themselves, or the city would enforce the contract" and attempt to force the team to stay until 2020.

Now the team has declared that the facility is no longer state of the art. The Chargers want the city to split the cost of a $400 million stadium with the team. The Chargers refuse to turn over National Football League and other financial information that would show they are not competitive at the current facility, and can get out under the contract.

Watson says, there are several holes in the Chargers' proposal that are troubling the task force. One is the Chargers' assumption that the city will get 100 percent of the tax revenue from proposed redevelopment around the stadium.



Full Text:
Copyright SAN DIEGO UNION TRIBUNE PUBLISHING COMPANY Jan 22, 2003

"The Chargers have a big challenge ahead of them" to sell city taxpayers on putting $200 million into a new stadium, says David Watson, chairman of the Citizens' Task Force on Chargers Issues.

Watson expressed this view yesterday morning to the Point Loma Optimists meeting at the Bali Ha'i. I didn't hear the speech, but learned about it, and interviewed him later.

"If you did a real harsh analysis, some people would say there are two realistic alternatives," Watson says. "Either (the Chargers) could pay for (the stadium) themselves, or the city would enforce the contract" and attempt to force the team to stay until 2020.

In 1997, the Chargers agreed to stay until 2020 after the city refurbished the facility now known as Qualcomm Stadium and also gave them a practice field. But the team is able to test the waters elsewhere every few years under certain conditions.

Now the team has declared that the facility is no longer state of the art. The Chargers want the city to split the cost of a $400 million stadium with the team. The Chargers refuse to turn over National Football League and other financial information that would show they are not competitive at the current facility, and can get out under the contract.

But, Watson says, there are several holes in the Chargers' proposal that are troubling the task force. One is the Chargers' assumption that the city will get 100 percent of the tax revenue from proposed redevelopment around the stadium.

"Actually, the city's share is only 18 percent," Watson says. The county, school district and other governmental bodies get the rest of the pie.

There are also questions about parking on game days and whether a park would be developed. "The public might support a park, rather than high-density development," Watson says.

Then there are costs. "It's closer to a billion-dollar project than a $400 million one," says Watson, referring to the stadium and ancillary development.

In addition, there are questions about the price of the stadium itself. "People say $350 million to $450 million," Watson notes. Others say that the cost of the bonds to finance Qualcomm Stadium plus parking could push the total above $600 million.

Watson notes that the rehabilitation of Chicago's Soldier Field for the Chicago Bears will cost well more than $600 million.

With water costs headed up and rationing a possibility, the infrastructure in sorry shape, and the financially ailing state likely to rob funds from local coffers as it slashes education and health-care spending, the Chargers do indeed have a major sales job ahead of them.

Happy days

For the 1998 Super Bowl, the administration of then-Mayor Susan Golding plotted a campaign to impress visiting media with how San Diego had created a "Super Bowl class facility costing $78 million," as contrasted with the $200 million to $300 million shelled out by other cities.

That statement is among the howlers -- in hindsight -- in a document unearthed in a public records request by attorney Michael Aguirre.

Among other talking points in the 1998 propaganda document: San Diego had created "an innovative formula" that stabilized team revenue and enabled the city to get higher rents from the team. That "innovative formula" was the 60,000-seat guarantee.

"The San Diego Chargers' commitment to stay in San Diego made the deal possible," gushed the document. It also said the stadium improvements would pay for themselves.

My, how time has a way of puncturing dreams.

Don Bauder: (619) 293-1523; don.bauder@uniontrib.com

Credit: Union-Tribune library researcher Erin Hobbs assisted with this column.

 



| Citizens' Task Force Home | About the Task Force | Task Force Meetings | Documents | Top of Page |
Site Map Privacy Notice Disclaimers