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San Diego Union-Tribune

NORBERTO SANTANA JR.

Task force draws line on stadium financing | `No public funds' for Chargers, group plans to tell City Council

February 21, 2003

Abstract:
[David Watson] said the Chargers had not disclosed enough financial information "to make the case" for a new stadium. The National Football League provided revenue information but no data on expenses.

Several speakers supported the Chargers and their efforts for a new stadium, noting that team owners had donated large amounts, both personally and as an organization, to San Diego high schools and to individuals facing physical adversity.

"The NFL is a monopoly that creates scarcity, therby ensuring that there will always be unmet demand, which gives the negotiating power to the NFL team," said Cyndi Jones, 51. "No matter what contract you have, the Chargers will always have the power and control because they have what you lust for. . . . If the Chargers want to leave, let them. But make sure they pay for the 1997 stadium remodel."

Full Text:
Copyright SAN DIEGO UNION TRIBUNE PUBLISHING COMPANY Feb 21, 2003

Editions vary
No public money should be used to build a stadium for the Chargers, and government participation should be limited to paying for such items as roads and parks associated with the new facility, a citizens task force recommended last night.

"This is the most substantive policy statement the task force has made," said Chairman David Watson, shortly after the panel adopted a set of principles on using public funds.

"We've said no public funds for a stadium," Watson said. "The city can use (additional redevelopment taxes) for parks, infrastructure, debt. We've tried to narrow the scope of public funds to be used at the Qualcomm Stadium site."

Members of the Citizens' Task Force on Chargers Issues had said that deciding the public funding question was their toughest task.

Last night, the task force worked through what Watson called the "tedious" job of adopting principles and amending portions of committee reports.

The task force's last meeting is Thursday, and a report on its findings is due to the council March 6. The council has scheduled a public hearing on the report for March 18.

In adopting the finance committee's final report, the task force established a high threshold for any public funding of a stadium project.

Panelists unanimously endorsed the principle that there could be "no cost to the general fund" from any stadium project. Member Tim Considine was absent.

On a 13-1 vote, with Bruce Henderson dissenting, the panel also recommended that new taxes collected from the 166-acre Qualcomm Stadium site be spent only on infrastructure, a public park or payments on the public bonds that financed the 1997 stadium expansion.

Henderson said he supported most of the spending limitations but opposed using public funds to pay off the 1997 renovation bonds.

"I just find that a disturbing concept," Henderson said.

Appointed by the City Council in July, the task force has spent the past seven months considering whether the city should join the Chargers in their bid for a new stadium.

Watson said the Chargers had not disclosed enough financial information "to make the case" for a new stadium. The National Football League provided revenue information but no data on expenses.

That lack of information primarily motivated his opposition to public funding, he said.

Last night, the panel hosted its largest public comment session since its creation, with about a dozen residents speaking out.

Several speakers supported the Chargers and their efforts for a new stadium, noting that team owners had donated large amounts, both personally and as an organization, to San Diego high schools and to individuals facing physical adversity.

Others spoke against using public funds for the team, saying that the stadium renovation deal had poisoned public trust of the NFL and Chargers.

"The NFL is a monopoly that creates scarcity, therby ensuring that there will always be unmet demand, which gives the negotiating power to the NFL team," said Cyndi Jones, 51. "No matter what contract you have, the Chargers will always have the power and control because they have what you lust for. . . . If the Chargers want to leave, let them. But make sure they pay for the 1997 stadium remodel."

Norberto Santana: (619) 718-5069; norberto.santana@uniontrib.com


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