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San Diego Union-Tribune

TED ROTH

The Chargers question | Don't criticize; produce an alternative plan

December 13, 2002

Abstract:
One such asset being studied is the municipally owned 166 acres of land known as Jack Murphy Field, which is currently the site of Qualcomm Stadium and one of the country's largest parking lots. The San Diego International Sports Council made a presentation to the Chargers task force last week that was intended to generate discussion on the value of football in San Diego, and to suggest a concept for optimizing the use of the Jack Murphy asset. From the comments by the task force members and the resultant media coverage, the Sports Council accomplished its goals -- and then some.

As a region, we allowed the naysayers to delay the construction of the downtown ballpark for more than two years. They continually ridiculed the claims of the Padres that the project would be more than a ballpark, and would be the impetus for the revitalization of a portion of downtown San Diego. Today, all one needs to do is spend a few minutes downtown to recognize the ignorance of their attestations. The ballpark is nearing 50 percent completion and the revitalization of downtown is a source of civic pride.

We challenge the public to demand that all parties -- including reporters, lawyers, elected officials (erstwhile or aspiring), and representatives of civic organizations -- not merely criticize the ideas of others, but rather come forward with their own proposals. If one is not interested in optimizing the value of a particular asset, what is the plan for optimizing another asset? Alternatively, which current expenditures should be cut or which taxes should be increased?

 

Full Text:
Copyright SAN DIEGO UNION TRIBUNE PUBLISHING COMPANY Dec 13, 2002

San Diego is facing a variety of critical issues that must be addressed. At last week's meeting, the chair of the city's Citizens' Task Force on Chargers Issues reviewed some infrastructure needs that have been identified by a committee of the San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce. These include housing, transportation, sewers, seismic retrofits for hospitals, etc. The cost to meet these needs is estimated to exceed $25 billion.

The governmental entities that are expected to provide the services to meet these needs have two sources of revenues -- the imposition of fees on the users of the infrastructure (i.e., ratepayers) or the collection of taxes from the residents of the political entity (i.e., taxpayers). If the revenues from these sources are inadequate to meet the needs, the only way to pay for these services is to cut current spending on other items.

There does not appear to be a groundswell to raise fees or taxes on the current users or residents to provide the funds necessary to deal with these issues now and in the future. Likewise, no one has put forward a proposal for cutting current spending to meet these infrastructure needs. Therefore, as a community and region, we must constantly be exploring ways to optimize the revenues from assets that are currently owned.

One such asset being studied is the municipally owned 166 acres of land known as Jack Murphy Field, which is currently the site of Qualcomm Stadium and one of the country's largest parking lots. The San Diego International Sports Council made a presentation to the Chargers task force last week that was intended to generate discussion on the value of football in San Diego, and to suggest a concept for optimizing the use of the Jack Murphy asset. From the comments by the task force members and the resultant media coverage, the Sports Council accomplished its goals -- and then some.

The plan included a mixed-use development, with retail, affordable housing, hotel rooms, a tiered parking structure, other commercial uses, and a football stadium for use by the Chargers, the San Diego State Aztecs, the Holiday Bowl, the Gold Coast Classic, and CIF (High School) Championship games. Based upon the estimates of the professional consultants that assisted in preparation of the Sports Council concept, $15 million to $17 million of revenue could be generated each year following development, with little or no cash outlay by the city.

The concept was not a final proposal, but rather a starting point for reasonable people to discuss a potential use of this public asset. The Sports Council welcomes constructive comments on the plan and intends to work with the task force and others to further develop this plan or any others that are introduced into the process.

In order to make an informed and rational decision on the use of this asset, we need reasoned ideas. What we do not need, and must not allow to interfere with the public process, is a constant barrage of negativism from those who do not have the courage to propose an alternative.

As a region, we allowed the naysayers to delay the construction of the downtown ballpark for more than two years. They continually ridiculed the claims of the Padres that the project would be more than a ballpark, and would be the impetus for the revitalization of a portion of downtown San Diego. Today, all one needs to do is spend a few minutes downtown to recognize the ignorance of their attestations. The ballpark is nearing 50 percent completion and the revitalization of downtown is a source of civic pride.

Responsible business and public interest organizations, including the Sports Council, the Chamber, the Economic Development Corporation, and the Convention and Visitors Bureau, will continue to promote ideas and discourse on ways to address our infrastructure and other issues in the San Diego region. Do we have all the answers? No -- in fact, we don't even know all the questions. Do we welcome a public debate of ideas? Yes.

We challenge the public to demand that all parties -- including reporters, lawyers, elected officials (erstwhile or aspiring), and representatives of civic organizations -- not merely criticize the ideas of others, but rather come forward with their own proposals. If one is not interested in optimizing the value of a particular asset, what is the plan for optimizing another asset? Alternatively, which current expenditures should be cut or which taxes should be increased?

To paraphrase Teddy Roosevelt, one does not participate by standing outside and criticizing those in the arena -- you must bring constructive ideas and be prepared to debate them in a reasonable manner. We have significant challenges facing our region and we need to work together to meet them. We can no longer tolerate delays and obstructions -- we must eliminate the influence of doom and gloomers among us.

 



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