Keeping Hope Alive for a New Charger Stadium
This week San Diego Mayor Jerry Sanders joined other big city mayors in twisting the arm of new Governor Jerry Brown. They want him to back down and not propose cutting off redevelopment money for California cities. If he does and the legislature approves the cuts, everyone agrees that plans for a new stadium for the San Diego Chargers go up in a puff of smoke. But, what if he and the legislature back down? Can this city still cobble together enough money and passion to get one built?
This week on KUSI's San Diego people I talked with Charger lawyer and spokesperson Mark Fabiani. I asked him, point blank, if there is no stadium deal in the next several years will the team leave the city? He turned it around and said if there is a stadium, the team is ready to commit long-term to San Diego. That is what is at stake here and he thinks despite the political and fiscal climate, he thinks it can and should be done. He also told me that the team is a business and if there is no deal to upgrade a San Diego stadium the Spanos family will have to make the tough business decisions to keep the team viable. You read between those lines.
The key to all of this is redevelopment money. There is $500 million dollars available, but some say it should be used for things like affordable housing, or mass transit and not a stadium for a private football club. Fabiani outlined a neatly packaged financial idea that takes that redevelopment money, and then utilizes income from the sale of the current QUALCOMM site and from new tax revenue from projects that could be built on that prime piece of real estate. He says there would be no new taxes, but he admits tax money is needed to get the stadium built. He also points out that a new stadium downtown would mean more private development there and that would generate more tax revenue, too.
So, it's all about the money. Fabiani promises that any deal that uses tax money would have to be approved by the voters and he thinks they will. At the end of the program, I pulled out the wild card. I asked him if the chances for a new stadium go up dramatically if, somehow, the Chargers can go to the Super bowl next year. He smiled and said, “of course.” So, I guess it's about the money and it's about winning. It seems we might need both to keep the Bolts in San Diego.