By Doug Porter
After Chargers owner Dean Spanos got his ass handed to him by the National Football League in rejecting (30-2) a joint Chargers/Raiders stadium atop a dump in Carson, San Diego started to look like a viable alternative for the future of the franchise.
According to Peter King at Sports Illustrated, the best Spanos could do in the stadium-of-the-future deal with the Stan Kroenke’s Rams in Inglewood was game day revenues and less than one-fifth of the signage, naming rights and miscellaneous side deals.
In talking to three owners in the wake of the vote, it became apparent that they were convinced Kroenke’s project, the most ambitious stadium/development concept in American sports history (likely to end up costing more than $3 billion by the time it’s fully operational in 2019), was the best thing for the NFL’s second century. (The league’s 100th anniversary is in 2020.) To succeed in Los Angeles requires what one league source said was an “L.A. Live on steroids,” referring to the Staples Center complex where the Lakers and Kings play. In other words, NFL-big. Kroenke, with his fortune in the billions (net worth $7.4 billion, according to Forbes), had agreed to put $1 billion into the project—money the Chargers and Raiders owners just didn’t have.
So now the pressure is on the Chargers’ ownership to make a deal in San Diego. And it’s happening. The Mission Valley site is up for consideration once again.
True to form in a city where “a hotel tax isn’t a tax because we say so,” City Attorney Jan Goldsmith held forth via a weekend article in the Union-Tribune on the terms and conditions for the upcoming “citizens initiative” for funding a new football stadium at the old location.
The magical money needed to close some of the estimated $300 million gap between what the NFL and local governments have offered up will come through $225 million in “collateral development” of the existing 166 acre Qualcomm site, we’re told.
Personal seat licenses, once deemed unsellable in the San Diego market, and “other revenue streams” will make up the difference.
Apparently this is all possible now with business insider Fred Maas having replaced the evil and reviled attorney Mark Fabiani as point person in negotiations with the city.
Those gnarly CEQA requirements could be put aside via the ballot box. All that’s left is to sell the citizenry on just what a thing of beauty this new stadium will be.
Having voters approve rezoning the land and the entitlements needed to build something would ease the approval process for potential developers, making the opportunity more appealing. Those benefits would be in addition to voter approval simplifying environmental approvals.
Tony Manolatos, who was spokesman for the mayor’s stadium task force until it completed its work last spring, said last week that the group’s analysis showed strong demand from developers.
“If the Chargers move forward with a Mission Valley proposal, you’re going to have people clamoring to buy the extra property,” he said.
This is the kind of optimism that bankrupted pension funds all over the country.
Oh, and did we mention how this wonderful deal will involve NO NEW TAXES? This is truthiness, San Diego style. I’m guessing the $350 million the city and county are promising to cough up couldn’t possibly be used for any other purpose. And the value of the city’s assets likely involved is inconsequential.
Of course, the article in the UT was just the back of the envelope musings of a city attorney with nothing to do…
He stressed that city officials couldn’t be involved in drafting the initiative because state law requires it to originate with citizens.
“I can’t give them a road map of how to do it because that would be inappropriate,” said Goldsmith, adding that he doubted his help would be necessary. “If this is the same team that did the work on the Chargers citizen’s initiative in Carson, they know what they’re doing. I’m sure they’ll cover those bases.”
The city “fathers” have about a month left to assemble a petition drive and the fountain of wonderfulness is about to flow.
This won’t hurt much…
San Diego’s Crown Jewel is Rather Tarnished
Voice of San Diego’s Lisa Halverstadt has been nosing around Balboa Park and there’s plenty of not-so-good stuff going on.
The trees are falling down. Some of the buildings aren’t far behind. And then there’s the unused and unusable parts of the 150-year-old park, like the Starlight …hold that thought… Amphitheater.
The latest guesses suggest Balboa Park’s repair needs total at least $300 million, a figure that doesn’t even include leased facilities such as the Starlight or museums. The city’s working to put together a more complete tab by this summer.
City officials say they’re doing all they can to make fixes but acknowledge resources are limited…
…The city’s tendency to go with lowest-bidding contractors can also mean the work doesn’t always match what the public might expect for San Diego’s crown jewel.
First world problems with parking and Mayor Piñata’s reign of error are high on the list of the park’s challenges.
The uncertainty of not knowing whether or not to wear flats to walk on the grass from a parking space (or, God forbid, catch the shuttle full of ‘those people’) and the rejection of that nice techie-man’s money for a garage are all part of the cross the park’s advocates have to bear.
The second part of the Mayor Sanders era legacy of non-profit entities created to mask the city’s neglect and incompetence, The Balboa Park Conservancy, also got a look at VOSD. Three years after announcing a $3 million donor-backed restoration of the Botanical Building, the group has raised $457,000.
Not a problem.
A new executive director with a six-figure salary, an architecture firm to “illustrate an expanded vision to sell philanthropists” and additional staffing are posited as the answers to the group’s difficulties in raising money.
I dunno. This all sounds too much like the first part of the Sanders era legacy, the Balboa Park Celebration Inc., which collapsed amid a flurry of finger-pointing designed to distract us from the $2.3 million pissed away. The city’s follow up on this debacle could be best summarized as: shit happens.
Here’s an idea with no consultant’s fee attached: Maybe the city could take responsibility for Balboa Park, rather than contracting it out. Given that the park is, after all, a regional attraction, maybe this is something worth the city and the county spending $350 million on.
Hillary Wins Nevada, Fingers Point
They’re still arguing over who insulted who and who cheated the most in Nevada.
The real answer to Hillary Clinton’s victory in Nevada is that Senator Harry Reid did her a huge favor.
John Ralson, writing at USA Today, explains:
In the middle of last week, Reid made a phone call, first reported by The New York Times’ Amy Chozick, to D. Taylor, the head of the parent of the Culinary Workers Union local in Las Vegas. Before that call, the union, facing difficult contract negotiations and seeing no advantage in enmeshing itself in a bloody internecine fight, had declared it was more Swiss than Hispanic. With the culinary union not endorsing and unwilling to even engage in the caucuses, employee turnout at six casino sites on the Las Vegas Strip was forecast at a combined 100 or so. That is, insignificant.
Taylor has “been extremely cooperative,” Reid told Chozick. “Probably 100 organizers will be at the caucus sites and in hotels to make sure people know what they’re doing.”
But Reid did not stop there. He also called casino executives, Democratic insiders confirm, with a simple message: “Let your people go.”
That is, he wanted to ensure the workers would be allowed time off from work to caucus. No one said no to Prince Harry.
In South Carolina, a Win for the Children of the Reagan Revolution
When the smoke cleared Jeb! was gone. The Donald, despite picking a fight with the Pope and calling George W Bush a liar, won decisively.
Charles P. Pierce at Esquire offered up this analysis on the Trumpian triumph and Marco Rubio’s hallucinations:
And now that momentum has become fearfully strong. Trump won all 44 of the state’s delegates to the national convention next summer. Ted Cruz, who essentially ran on the Leviticus-Deuteronomy ticket, found even his evangelical support bleeding to Trump, a phenomenon that indicates that the evangelical voters of South Carolina are a bit savvier and a bit more calculating than their cousins in Iowa. Even if you add Bush’s votes to those of Marco Rubio, who posted another triumphant third-place finish, Rubio still loses to Trump pretty handily. (Of course, Rubio has now picked up the endorsement of political juggernaut Willard Romney.) Amazingly, it still seems that a substantial number of influential Republicans are trying to wish away what is plainly going on all around them. Rubio, for example, in his triumphal address as the show horse once again, declared that “the children of the Reagan revolution” are taking over.
He was more right than he knows. The children of the Reagan revolution are older than Marco Rubio believes they are, and they’re lining up behind Donald Trump. They like the way he defines the enemy, the way that Reagan always knew when to summon up that spectral welfare mom, or that imaginary black man buying steaks with his government checks. They like the way he builds a comfortable wall around them to hold back the change that scares them so. They like the way he makes them part of a movement against their fear and how he so embodies their confusion and rage. Look at this perfect distillation of the kind of modern conservative rhetoric that comes trippingly off his tongue. The subject was the president’s not attending the funeral mass for Justice Antonin Scalia.
“I wonder if President Obama would have attended the funeral of Justice Scalia if it were held in a Mosque? Very sad that he did not go!”
In that, you can hear echoes of how kindly old President Dutch smilingly nudge-nudge-wink-wink’d about Michael Dukakis’ mental state back in 1988. The forces unleashed in conservative America by Reagan’s smiling demagoguery have gathered themselves into a whirlwind that blew away the last Bush brother on Saturday night. Yes, Young Marco Rubio, it’s morning in America again, and it’s a darker day than you can possibly imagine.
On This Day: 1630 – Quadequine introduced popcorn to English colonists at their first Thanksgiving dinner. 1892 – Representatives of the Knights of Labor and the United Mine Workers met in St. Louis with 20 other organizations to plan the founding convention of the People’s Party. Objectives: end political corruption, spread the wealth, and combat the oppression of the rights of workers and farmers. 1956 – Elvis Presley entered the music charts for the first time with “Heartbreak Hotel.”
Did you enjoy this article? Subscribe to “The Starting Line” and get an email every time a new article in this series is posted!
I read the Daily Fishwrap(s) so you don’t have to… Catch “the Starting Line” Monday thru Friday right here at San Diego Free Press (dot) org. Send your hate mail and ideas to DougPorter@SanDiegoFreePress.Org Check us out on Facebook and Twitter.