By Doug Porter
Forty-eight hours of discussion among National Football League team owners have begun, and the betting is this gathering in Houston, Texas will mark the end of the Chargers tenure in San Diego.
Commissioner Roger Goodell set the stage last week by sending a letter to the Chargers, Raiders and Rams organizations indicating they are all eligible for relocation consideration. It’s safe to say his view was that nothing offered by those teams’ current cities matched up with the possibilities for profit in La-La Land.
The six-owner Los Angeles Opportunities committee, according to various media reports, is expected to make an official recommendation putting both the Chargers and Rams in Inglewood. Momentum for the Rams/Chargers deal has been building in the wake a written proposal submitted by influential Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones.
UPDATE: Media reports were wrong, though I doubt this is the final answer. LA committee recommended Carson site 5-1. Lone exception: Chiefs owner Clark Hunt, who said it should be 1 team or none.
From the Union-Tribune:
Jones’ proposal was simple, a mere hundred words or so, according to two people who have seen it. Jones said the league should approve the Chargers and Rams to play at the former site of the Hollywood Park racetrack where Kroenke and his partners have already begun construction on a business and entertainment complex.
Everyone queried Monday as owners and NFL officials began arriving at the Westin Memorial City continued to maintain that neither side has the necessary three-quarters votes to gain approval to move.
Jones’ proposal is in line with a compromise that some owners and others in the league have long pointed to. Kroenke, in fact, proposed such a partnership to the NFL in late November.
“The league needed a third option,” one executive intimately involved with the process said Monday. “Jerry’s plan is the only one with a chance to get 24 votes – if it gets on the ballot.”
Chargers owner Dean Spanos will publicly cling to the idea of a joint stadium in Carson, California with the Oakland Raiders–until he doesn’t have to.
From the Los Angeles Daily News:
When asked about speculation that there is momentum building for him to join Kroenke in an Inglewood deal, Spanos maintained he remains committed to his deal with Davis.
“Right now, my focus is on Carson,” he said.
Expect Spanos to continue to hold firm on his position, in part to hold out for a Carson win but also to work out the best possible deal with Kroenke and to protect Davis.
Spanos has also said he’ll abide by whatever decision gets made by the NFL.
Raiding the Alamo
The Bleacher Report has revived dormant rumors about Oakland’s Mark Davis moving the Raiders to San Antonio. The only hope of the Bay Area retaining the boys in black appears to be a joint venture with San Francisco Forty-Niners in their new stadium, and that’s likely wishful thinking.
Davis reportedly already has land lined up halfway between Austin and San Antonio, an ideal spot for the Raiders to build a new stadium if they can secure the funding to bring a third NFL team to Texas.
Mark Maske at the Washington Post says the Raiders will likely gain a promise of funding from any NFL-negotiated compromise. San Diego and St. Louis are mentioned along with San Antonio as potential homes for the team.
A Parting Present
The Chargers will have to pay the City of San Diego a termination fee of just over $15 million in order to get out of the lease at Qualcomm in 2016.
Should the team be required to play an additional year at the Q [wouldn’t that be fun!] while construction proceeds at Inglewood as part of the NFL deal, the termination fee would go down to $12.5 million.
The current lease is a money loser ($3.3 million over the past seven years) for the City of San Diego. The rent that’s supposed to be paid by the Chargers gets eaten up by various rent credits: property taxes, some parking revenues, and the city’s suite all come off the top, along with a percentage of all concession sales counting toward its rent. The city also pays the team each year as part of a settlement stemming from 2006 American with Disabilities Act lawsuit at the stadium.
The city will still have substantial costs with the team gone, as Liam Dillon at Voice of San Diego explains:
Taxpayers will, however, save about $1 million that now goes toward police officers and firefighters working Chargers games.
But remember that it costs money to keep Qualcomm functioning with or without the Chargers.
The city doesn’t make enough from San Diego State football games, monster truck rallies, motocross and other events at Qualcomm to cover expenses. We’d likely still lose about $6 million a year just operating and maintaining the stadium with the team gone. And that doesn’t even count paying for the $85 million in long-term repairs Qualcomm needs.
Still, the costs to the City (and the County) won’t include the $350 million (plus lease “credits!”) we were about to pony up to build a new stadium.
A Pipe Dream
The deal with having a football team was always based on emotion more than logic. It was about “civic pride” and massive monuments to the creative use of concrete.
The business of professional sports coliseums is a proven nothingburger for local economies. That fact of life is one of the very few things economists agree on.
A 2003 analysis on Staples Center commissioned by the Los Angeles City Controller came to the surprising conclusion that sales tax revenues increased in their old neighborhood following the Lakers and Kings move in 1999.
For Kevin Faulconer, the likely departure of the Chargers has been about doing everything possible to counter the image of him somehow being personally responsible for the team leaving.
I think his public relations campaign about “saving” the team has worked to save Kevin Faulconer. Millions of dollars have been spent chasing a pipe dream and nobody cares.
Scott Lewis at Voice of San Diego says the most recent actions of the mayor, city attorney and county supervisor were all about trying to appeal to the NFL directly.
The city attorney blustered. The Mayor smiled a lot. Supervisor Ron Roberts nodded his head meaningfully at the appropriate moments. The PR team gave glowing reports about every contact with the league. And in the end, the league followed the money–namely that there was more it to be had in Los Angeles.
A Brighter Future
Architect Daniel Stewart’s op-ed in the Union-Tribune last week pointed out the good things that could happen in downtown San Diego, once we rid ourselves of this silly football notion.
East Village South presents a tremendous opportunity for mixed-use housing, education, offices, retail and hotels. Located near the Imperial Avenue transit station, the baseball stadium, the new central library, the convention center and the waterfront, this area has the potential for a live-work environment that would supercharge our downtown with economic growth and countless new, well-paying jobs.
Universities are proven prosperity multipliers, creating and attracting an educated work force. Imagine if a new or satellite university campus was added to the already impressive educational armature of City College, the New School of Architecture and Design, Thomas Jefferson School of Law, FDIM and Woodbury College. Add to that the educational resources of the central library and the K-12 schools existing in East Village and you have the potential for a dynamic education + economic cluster.
The IDEA District, just to the north of the site, has illuminated this symbiotic relationship between downtown college campuses and the surrounding community. Unlike professional sports franchises, conventions and many businesses; education + economic clusters have been referred to as “sticky capital” because they tend to stay put despite changes that cause other enterprises to seek greener pastures. This attribute makes for resilient local economies.
State Senator Marty Block’s notion about the current stadium location being well-suited for an expansion of SDSU also speaks to better outcomes for the city.
At this point what scares me the most is the possibility –it ain’t over ‘till the NFL owners votes are counted!– of the Chargers deciding to stay in San Diego.
On This Day: 1876 – Novelist Jack London is born. His classic definition of a scab—someone who would cross a picket line and take a striker’s job: “After God had finished the rattlesnake, the toad, the vampire, He had some awful substance left with which He made a scab. A scab is a two-legged animal with a cork-screw soul, a water-logged brain, a combination backbone of jelly and glue. Where others have hearts, he carries a tumor of rotten principles” 1943 – The Office of Price Administration announced that standard frankfurters/hot dogs/wieners would be replaced by ‘Victory Sausages.’ 1959 – Berry Gordy borrowed $800 to found the Motown record empire.
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