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San Diego Union-Tribune

NORBERTO SANTANA JR.

Task force disagrees on term `public funds'

February 14, 2003

Abstract:
The Chargers have proposed for the public to pay half of a $400 million stadium. The proposal would have the city float a $200 million bond that would be paid off over several decades by taxes generated by developing 66 acres of the Qualcomm Stadium site for commercial use.

Task force member Ron Saatoff questioned whether public funds would include taxes generated by a stadium-anchored urban village.

Another option is to lease the entire 166-acre Qualcomm Stadium site to the Chargers. That plan would lower the rent, depending on the public amenities, such as a park, built by the Chargers.

Full Text:
Copyright SAN DIEGO UNION TRIBUNE PUBLISHING COMPANY Feb 14, 2003

Two weeks before the Citizens' Task Force on Chargers Issues reports to the City Council, members are struggling to decide whether public funds should be used to build a stadium.

But the task force is having a difficulty defining "public funds."

The San Diego City Council appointed the 15-member task force in July to see if there is a fiscally responsible way the public can support the Chargers' demand for a new stadium. Public tax dollars could partly finance the stadium.

Last night, as the panel began discussing how to write its report, Chairman David Watson posed a question: Would members support using public funds for a stadium?

Of 14 task force members in attendance, only one answered the question without hesitation.

"Not one dime for a new stadium," said Bill Largent, who was nominated to the panel by Councilwoman Donna Frye.

Others quickly began qualifying their positions on the definition of public funds.

The Chargers have proposed for the public to pay half of a $400 million stadium. The proposal would have the city float a $200 million bond that would be paid off over several decades by taxes generated by developing 66 acres of the Qualcomm Stadium site for commercial use.

Task force member Ron Saatoff questioned whether public funds would include taxes generated by a stadium-anchored urban village.

"This is more complex than it seems," Saatoff said.

Another option is to lease the entire 166-acre Qualcomm Stadium site to the Chargers. That plan would lower the rent, depending on the public amenities, such as a park, built by the Chargers.

While some said an adjustment on rent would constitute a public subsidy, task force member Karen Heumann said she could support some public funding if the development included a large park.

Panel member Patti Roscoe said, "I'm offended by all of this," protesting that the task force was being "shoehorned" into offering a narrow answer to a broad question.



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