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Effects of a Winning season are debated on stadium

Discussion in 'Chargers Fan Forum' started by Trumpet_Man, Aug 19, 2007.

  1. Trumpet_Man

    Trumpet_Man Well-Known Member

    Feb 14, 2006

    Effect of a winning season debated

    By Ronald W. Powell

    August 19, 2007

    Even if the Chargers ride LaDainian Tomlinson's sturdy legs all the way to the Super Bowl, it's not certain that a winning season would score voter support for a new football stadium in San Diego County.
    But it couldn't hurt.

    The team is considering several sites in Chula Vista and the city-owned Center City Golf Course in Oceanside as possible locations for a stadium that would cost at least $850 million. Chargers executives say they want to select a site this year and put a stadium proposal before voters in November 2008.

    Mark Fabiani, the team's general counsel and spokesman on stadium issues, said the Chargers don't have to match their 14-2 record of last year or go deeper in the playoffs than last season when they lost in the first round. But the team needs to be a solid contender to get voters on their side, he said.

    “It's huge because people are passionate about this sport,” Fabiani said. “The more successful you are, the more passionate people get, and the more willing they are to work in your behalf.”

    That's what happened with the Padres in 1998.

    The baseball team went to the World Series in October at the same time Padres owner John Moores and his supporters were campaigning for voters to approve spending more than $300 million, plus interest, in public money for a downtown ballpark. The next month, nearly 60 percent of San Diego's voters backed the team's proposal, leading to development of the $474 million Petco Park.

    Steve Erie, a political science professor at the University of California San Diego, said the same thing could happen for the Chargers.

    “If they win, the voters will want to keep the Chargers here and will up the ante for what the team wants,” Erie said. “Look at what John Moores did. This is all about public leverage for stadium negotiations.”

    Next month, Chula Vista officials are expected to release a more than $200,000 land-use study – paid for by the Chargers – that rates potential stadium sites in the city. A team-subsidized study in Oceanside on the feasibility of office development to help pay for a stadium there also is scheduled for completion in September.

    Doubts persist that a deal can be worked out in either city. But if a proposal reaches the ballot, elected officials said Charger wins this year won't guarantee a vote in favor of a new stadium in 2008.

    Chula Vista Mayor Cheryl Cox said it will take more than a winning season to get elected officials to work out a deal with the Chargers, because the public won't support spending tax dollars for a privately held team without knowing the financial benefits to the city.

    Cox said she also would like to know how often the National Football League would commit to playing the Super Bowl at the new stadium. Professional football's biggest game brings fans from outside the area who spend millions in the host city for hotel rooms, meals, entertainment and other expenses.

    Organizers of February's Super Bowl in Miami estimate that fans, media and others who flocked to south Florida for the game spent $463 million. Organizers of the 2003 Super Bowl in San Diego said it boosted the local economy by $367 million.

    Economists scoff at those kinds of numbers.

    “Move the decimal point to the left one number, and that's probably closer to the real number,” said Allen Sanderson, an economist at the University of Chicago.

    However much the game generates, former NFL Commissioner Paul Tagliabue said in 2003 that the Super Bowl would not be returning to San Diego unless a new stadium is built.

    If the Chargers choose to build a stadium in Chula Vista, Cox said she would expect the team to pay for an economic study on the costs and benefits.

    “When you have an economy in which foreclosures are occurring and people are worried about feeding their families, voters will want to know if the economic impact of a stadium will be worth the traffic and other impacts,” said Cox, whose city faces a $9 million budget deficit this fiscal year.

    In Oceanside, Mayor Jim Wood said he thinks a winning season might boost the team's chances at the ballot box but that could be tempered by concerns about increased traffic and cost.

    He said an “informal head count” he's done of phone calls, e-mails and contacts on the street indicates that Oceanside residents support a Chargers stadium proposal now – before the season begins Sept. 9, when the team plays the Chicago Bears at Qualcomm Stadium.

    County Supervisor Dianne Jacob said a winning season “can't hurt,” but there also needs to be a deal crafted that works for taxpayers.

    Jacob, whose family has had season tickets to Chargers games since the team moved from Los Angeles to San Diego in 1961, said she prefers a new stadium be built at the 166-acre Qualcomm Stadium site in Mission Valley, where the team has played since 1967.

    “But for Qualcomm to be considered, the city (of San Diego) has to be engaged. It has to be interested,” she said.

    San Diego City Attorney Michael Aguirre was in private practice in 1998 when he co-chaired the campaign for Proposition C, the ballot measure that led to Petco Park's construction. Later, he became a ballpark critic, saying city officials and the Padres misled voters by changing the financial deal.

    Aguirre said public support for a new ballpark rose during the Padres' run to the World Series, where the New York Yankees swept them in four games. But the proposition won because voters saw the ballpark as a catalyst for downtown redevelopment, he said.

    “The downtown ballpark has been great, except that the Padres get all the profit and the city gets the liability of having to spend $300 million in city funds to pay for it,” Aguirre said.

    The Chargers initially tried to get San Diego to go for a public-private partnership to build a stadium on the Qualcomm site, including offering to pay for the stadium in exchange for the city giving the team 60 acres in free land that could be developed into housing, offices, a hotel, restaurants and other businesses to pay for the project.

    Early last year, when the team realized that deal wouldn't work because of the city's financial condition, and its belief that Aguirre opposed the plan, the team started talking to officials in Chula Vista, National City and Oceanside. National City has since dropped out of the talks.

    If the other sites in the county don't work out and the Chargers look again at the Qualcomm property, San Diego voters will want to closely examine the proposal, Aguirre said.

    Under the Chargers' current lease with San Diego, the team pays $2.5 million in rent, which left the city with a $730,000 deficit after last season for game-day costs, including police and fire personnel. The team keeps all parking revenue. And if it leaves town after the 2010 season, it will have to pay only $24 million of $55 million in bond debt the city will then owe for the 1997 expansion of Qualcomm Stadium.

    “The role of elected officials is to make sure that major mistakes are not made because of momentary enthusiasm,” Aguirre said.

    The Chargers' Fabiani frequently speaks to community groups about why the team needs a new stadium and the importance of having an NFL franchise in a city. But he said a winning team “illustrates it better than any speech can.”

    He said winning ignites a wave of excitement that washes over a community in a way that few other institutions or events can.

    But Fabiani said he does not believe winning alone is enough when the cost and effects of a stadium on a community are in play.

    “When you get right down to it, people won't vote for you just because a team goes to the Super Bowl,” he said. “Most people want to look at the deal.”
  2. WonderSlug

    WonderSlug Well-Known Member

    Sep 1, 2005
    What about if the question was posed to them that a new stadium meant that the City of Oceanside would have to pony up some taxpayer money?

    WOuld they be willing that their local taxes be used to help fund the building of a stadium in Oceanside?

    How about asking them what they thought of that GoAwayChargers website and group?
  3. cranberry

    cranberry BoltTalker

    Oct 3, 2006
    Hope the stadium will be built in San Diego. Can't believe the team
    playing somewhere else.

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