1-Man’s Opinion Column “Stadium Story-Tough Part Now-Selling It”

Posted by on March 24th, 2016  •  0 Comments  • 

Meetings, brainstorming sessions, think tank get togethers. They’ve had it all.

Exchanges with lawyers, governmental leaders, civic leaders. That has been part of it too.

So now the Chargers and JMI have put together a proposal plan to build a new NFL Stadium with a Convention Center annex, for 1.8B.

And now the really hard part begins, finding ways to make everyone sign off on the deal.

There’s no doubt there is a mixed reaction in this community to passing anything with the word “tax’ attached to it. But understand, this is not a tax on residents of San Diego. The financing of this mega project will come thru a Tourism Tax on hotel rooms used by visitors here.

That becomes project one, convincing the voters of San Diego to invest in their city, expand the convention center, and build a much needed football stadium, that can be used for so many other events.

The second challenge will be to convince the population that a ‘yes’ vote will be not to give Dean Spanos, a rich man, a new stadium, it will be to put him in a new facility that he will play chunk of money for.

Solving all the acrimony of Spanos’ profiteering style in the past will be hard to overcome, but realize this, he will be investing 350M of his own limited wealth, plus using another 300M gift money from the NFL. Spanos will also be on the hook for cost-overruns and for 15M in maintenance fees yearly for the 30-year lease they must sign.

The mayor of the city and the leader of the county, now both have to be convinced this deal is good for the city, even if it is in the tight confines of the East Village. If they buy into this, the city owns the stadium, an authority runs it.

The team gets tremendous revenue streams, including stadium naming rights, sky box money, PSL’s etc, but it will be upon them to create those revenues, not someone else.

Now the tough part, the anger likely to come from the hotel people downtown, and those in outlying areas. As part of this deal, JMI will build a 44-story hotel adjacents to the stadium and center. It goes in direct competition then with the Hyatt and Hilton and all the others around there.

Add to that the hit hotels in Mission Valley, in Hotel Circle, will take, from a new development downtown. Who stays in their hotels, if the shiny, flashy new shiny place to be is downtown?

Because of state law, some obstacles are likely being removed. Using an initiative removes any environmental holdup. And the on-going argument about the 66% vote vs 50-plus-1 seems to be moot with an appellate court decision in Upland, ruling a simple majority is the law to be observed.

State officials warn communities cannot ram thru votes with the thought of doing projects with a 50-plus-1 vote until the state Supreme Court hears the next appeal, maybe in mid-summer.

The most surprising facet is the change of heart of the Spanos family. This investment opens great opportunities for them. Paying 350M is much better than the 550M-territorial fee had they gone to LA. They also know, they don’t have the leverage they used to have, forr sharing a stadium with the Rams as a tenant, would make them feel like a second class citizen.

So the idea is in place. Now the deal to bring all the power-brokers together to get the signatures to get this on the ballot.

Seattle did it with Quest Field for the Seahawks and Safeco Field for the Mariners. Phoenix and Maricopla County built and renovated all those Cactus League spring training facilities, plus got stadiums built for the Cardinals, a hockey arena and the new home for the Phoenix Suns.

Alot of that was done with Tourism taxes on hotels and car rentals.

If done there, why not here. Time for San Diego to grow up, become a great city, and solve the stadium and convention center issues.

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