By Doug Porter
After more than a decade of studies and surveys, the most likely answer to San Diego’s stadium dilemma is that it ain’t happening here.
Let the finger pointing begin.
Both locations currently under consideration–Mission Valley and the east end of downtown–face legal and logistical considerations that make them non-starters. The mayor has declared that these are the only options on the table.
But the real reason is political. The Chargers’ preference for a joint use facility in as part of an expansion of the convention center is opposed by hotel and tourism interests. Each side considers the other’s proposal to be unfavorable to their own financial success.
And then there’s the matter of money. National University System’s Institute for Policy Research number crunching on the subject is postulating that San Diego will have to pick up the tab for 65% of the costs. Given the inflationary spiral attached to guesstimations as to the ultimate cost of a stadium (It’s gone from a billion to just south of two billion in recent months) the cost to taxpayers has gone from pie-in-the-sky to are-you-crazy?
The Latest on Qualcomm
The momentum in media coverage has shifted in favor of the current stadium location in Mission Valley.
Much of the needed transportation infrastructure is already in place and presumably any redevelopment would include a solution to the regular flooding at Qualcomm.
The pool of petroleum under the stadium site has reportedly been mitigated, but the question of who actually owns the property has not, as NBC7 News pointed out:
…the remedies aimed at addressing the legal flaws and dealing with the city’s quest for a new stadium could be complex and costly.
It all starts with the little-known fact that nearly half oft he 166-acre site — and most of the land under the stadium itself — is owned by the city of San Diego’s Water Utilities Department.
Under the asphalt is an aquifer that could yield potable water…
That’s the short version.
The Downtown Stadium Dream
Earlier this week representatives of the company founded by former Padres owner John Moores met with the stadium task force to present a proposal putting a complex on Tailgate Park and the MTS Bus Yard, which are located next to Petco Park.
From the Times of San Diego:
JMI developed four football stadium plans last year and the one that matches the description of their current proposal was a joint use stadium/convention complex that would cost $1.4 billion.
This is $400 million less than it would cost to build the complexes separately.
Yeah, but…From the Los Angeles Times:
The downtown site is near Petco Park and the new central library, but building a stadium would require relocating a maintenance and administrative facility operated by the Metropolitan Transit System. Relocating the bus yard could cost upward of $100 million and delay construction of a stadium by five to seven years, the system’s chief executive warned last week.
The advisory committee appears to be focusing on the Qualcomm site.
The Goldman Sachs Connection
Voice of San Diego contributor Beau Lynott posted an article this morning following up on the big money interests favoring the Chargers’ exit from San Diego:
SportsBusiness Journal’s Daniel Kaplan, citing unnamed sources, reported Monday that Goldman Sachs will finance the Chargers’ costs of moving to L.A. by covering “any operating losses suffered by the team in the first few years in that city as well as costs for any renovations needed in a temporary venue.” If they relocate, the Chargers are expected to play in the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum or the Rose Bowl while a new L.A.-area stadium is under construction.
Chargers special counsel Mark Fabiani confirmed to ESPN that the Chargers have a long-standing working relationship with Goldman and that the firm will work with them on financing a new stadium in the Los Angeles market.
“We are in a hyper-competitive environment regarding Los Angeles at this moment, and so we won’t be releasing specifics on our work with Goldman Sachs,” Fabiani told ESPN. “The bottom line is that we, along with Goldman Sachs, are completely confident that the Raiders/Chargers L.A. stadium proposal can feasibly be financed.”
Goldman Sachs involvement has everything to do with the potential fees, interest and commissions available with a deal done in the city of Carson. Neither San Diego location offers up those kinds of incentives. Oh, and Lynott points out that the NFL’s point man on any Los Angeles deal is “NFL Senior Vice President Eric Grubman — a former Goldman banker.
The ‘Save the Chargers’ Petition
If you’ve visited any shopping malls nearby, you might have seen petitions passed around by the usual suspects (Victory Consultants is paying $2 per signature) to keep the Chargers in San Diego.
This, as Catherine Green at Voice of San Diego pointed out yesterday, has nothing to do with the stadium issue.
It’s a deeply cynical ploy to tie up the local employment market for signature gatherers to prevent the opponents of One Paseo, the recently approved mega-development in Carmel Valley from getting enough support to place a referendum on the ballot.
One developer is opposing another developer’s plans. And shoppers get the opportunity to be a pawn in this game while feeling good about the Chargers.
How San Diego of them! At least they’re not claiming the Navy will leave town.
In other news…
Oversight for Civic San Diego. We Hope
In recent months the San Diego Free Press has posted articles about Civic San Diego, the entity now charged with finding new means for local redevelopment. Community activists Jay Powell, Jim Bliesner, Norma Damashek and (SDFP Editor) Anna Daniels (and others) have all written about the emergence of this group, raising serious questions along the way.
Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez this morning announced plans for introducing legislation to create more oversight at local governments that rely on the planning, zoning or permitting expertise of non-profit organizations or private individuals.
The presser announcing Assembly Bill 504 was taking place at the same time as I was writing this column, so I’ll share with readers what the press release promised was going to be said:
California’s decision to end redevelopment eliminated accountability requirements regarding groups like the non-profit organization called Civic San Diego who are permitting and approving development in San Diego, although it’s uncertain whether the agency has the legal authority to do so in state law after redevelopment’s demise.
As it stands now, if residents do not agree with what Civic San Diego has planned for their community, they can only go to the board of directors of this nonprofit organization—which is not accountable to the city council that was elected to be stewards of the city’s development.
Civic San Diego’s potential authority to dramatically engineer the future of neighborhoods with little supervision or accountability presents serious concerns about transparency and public input.
On This Day: 1857 – The Supreme Court’s Dred Scott decision ruled that blacks could not sue in federal court to be citizens. 1930 – With the Great Depression underway, hundreds of thousands of unemployed workers demonstrated in some 30 cities and towns; close to 100,000 filled Union Square in New York City and were attacked by mounted police. 1973 – John Lennon’s visa extension was canceled by the New York Office of the Immigration Department. It had been granted only five days before.
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