The Mayor had lots to say. The Chargers leadership reacted strongly. You hate to say battle lines are being drawn on something so important, but in 24-hours time, they did everything but exchange gunfire.
And so the Stadium saga to save the NFL team continues, heading to Year 14-to find a way to keep the Bolts team from moving.
Mayor Kevin Faulconer’s “State of the City” address was full of ‘Power Point’ hope, about finding a way on his watch to get a Stadium built. Chargers point man Mark Fabiani, who talks a good game but has accomplished little, shot down the latest set of ideas set forth by the city’s new leader, and followed that with blazing-criticism of businessman Steve Cushman, an advisor on the Stadium-Convention Center discussions..
It’s understandable there is caution on one side, doubt on another. Dean Spanos and Fabiani have been pushing this boulder up the hill since 2001, the idea for a new stadium. The city has failed miserably to gain any traction whatsoever, bad economy, lousy leadership, thru seven different mayors.
But this time, all the chips are on the table. Qualcomm Stadium is crumbling. There is urgency because up the I-5, Los Angeles, and the NFL league office, are making rumblings they will move on a stadium and move a team into the 2nd biggest market in the nation.
Faulconer wants to re-establish a new Civic Task Force to evaluate the old stadium sight, and the new Gaslamp sight. He wants facts, figures, blueprints, and a financial plan by October, on cost-location-and how the bill gets paid.
What Faulconer needs will be fresh leadership, new idea people, execs from the business world, the sports world. What he needs is a consultant from outside, who has done a project like this. What he needs is independent thinking too, not people with past political agendas.
He may have some of that in JMI-Sports, who got Petco built. The city should link with AEG-which takes on projects like this, and get insight from them. He might have some experience too in former NFL Executive Jim Steeg. He has access to Eric Judson of JMI. He has Sports Council people, law and finance people to draw upon also.
As for the Chargers, Fabiani, a talker, but not a doer, needs to approach the next 8-months with an open mind, present the team’s best ideas, and possibly put in escrow the exact check Dean Spanos should write as his contribution to get this project rolling. That would once and forever put aside the insidious feeling the rich man wants a stadium given to him. Spanos needs to invest upfront in the city’s future.
The Chargers firmly believe the 166-acre Qualcomm sight should be sold; the money to be put into the pool, along with a re-designed Hotel Tax formula, to fund the stadium and the convention center in the Gaslamp. The only problem is once you sell that land, it is no longer a resource, an asset.
Understand though the team’s lack of trust in leadership in the mayoral office. Past history shows incompetence, corruptness, and boxes of agendas, in past dealings.
San Diego wants to invest in its future. A Stadium is a piece of the puzzle for growth. The Convention Center Annex is even more important, because it is an investment in our now biggest industry, tourism. It’s not military, insurance-banking companies, nor manufacturing. It’s visitors, and that Center is huge for the economic health going forward.
The city needs ‘new blood’ to lead this task force. The Chargers need to stop the name-calling, insulting people who have served in the past (civic retreads) and get on with a clean piece of paper, and work this out.
The two combatants have a real history. Cushman carries influence with the Mayor’s office, but some of his ideas have not worked out. Fabiani’s track record includes representing Jamie McCourt and her Dodgers lifestyle, and Tour-de-France cheat Lance Armstorng. Some track record too. No one cares what Fabiani thinks. No one really knows who the political animal Cushman is. 1-has accomplished things on behalf of the city. The other just talks.
The Chargers are not going to move in the middle of the night. They should give this their best shot, and for the city, this may be their last chance to accomplish something with an economy that seems to be on the upswing.
Bad History-Renewed Hope. A chance for both sides to write a special legacy chapter going forward, but they better be prepared to park their ego, set aside history, forget the agendas,roll up the work sleeves, and find a way to get this done.