Leadership in San Diego – Have It, Find it

Posted by on December 17th, 2014  •  0 Comments  • 

Leadership in San Diego.  It’s been sorely lacking for years, in the city government, and with the football franchise. 
 
Maybe it is all about to change.
 
The Chargers have announced they are not opting out of their lease at decaying Qualcomm Stadium, staying another year, to keep their season ticket base intact, and giving the city another year to try and find a way to fund a new NFL stadium, in the Gaslamp Quarter.
 
A project that has been in the works since 2000, may be about to take shape, thanks to leadership.  A new mayor, and an old owner of the baseball franchise.
 
Mayor Kevin Faulconer says he will unveil a new financing plan next month, that might put an NFL Stadium on track with a public vote in 2016.  It involves use of the downtown hotel tax extension.  It is the first sign, amongst the past seven mayors at City Hall, that something  realistic could happen, that would guarantee the stadium gets built and the franchise stays.
 
Behind closed doors, the familiar name of John Moores has surfaced, thru his JMI-Realty Corporation, which is proposing to build a 1.4B project, not just for a mufti purpose stadium, but also a Convention Center annex and another luxury hotel in the East Village.
 
Moores was the money man, with the brilliance of Larry Lucchino. who got Petco Park, and 5-adjacent hotels built, that led to the rebirth of the Gaslamp Quarter, the destination spot downtown.
 
And Moores and Faulconer seem to be the catalyst now, the idea men, with the ability to make money appear, to get the deal done.
 
Owner Dean Spanos and his point man Mark Fabiani have failed over the years to generate support at all the locations they’ve tried.  The land wasn’t right, the cost was too prohibitive, the financing never in place.  Now that may all be swept aside with the vision of a pro sports owner who gets things done, and a new mayor who will not be denied in efforts to save an industry, the Chargers, for his town.
 
Spanos can help the cause along, by putting his money upfront.  The owners of the Vikings, Steelers, Patriots and Cowboys all put lots of their own money into their stadium projects.  Why not here?  JMI has the experience, not just with the Padres, but across the country now with college stadium renovations, minor league baseball construction, and their marketing skills..
 
Spanos should put 200M of his own money into the deal, use the NFL-G6 Fund to secure another 200M, help find 50M in naming rights.  That’s 450M of the estimated 850M for the Stadium.  If you use the hotel tax, you should be able to bond the rest and get both the stadium and the convention center project done.
 
It would be nice to view this, not as a bailout, or giving a rich owner a new stadium, but rather as a consortium deal where the team gets what it needs, a new stadium, and the city saves the franchise, the extension of the convention center grows our tourism business.  All responsible invest, then share in the wealth.
 
It would end all the animosity from decades gone by, the Super Bowl Stadium expansion, the new Chargers practice facility, the ticket guarantee etc, etc.
 
Leadership, for the first time ever, we seem to have it.  Odd, a former baseball owner and his company, may be coming to the rescue of the NFL owner.
 
John Moores, who left town with tins cans of criticism following him,  now using his business acumen, saving the NFL team for our town.  Who could have imagined that?
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