Stadium Deal – The Tough Decision

Posted by on March 12th, 2015  •  0 Comments  • 

The easy part is done, now the toughest part is about to begin.
The Mayor’s Stadium Task Force, after 4-weeks of evaluation, review of blueprints, looking at grand designs, and talking to real estate developers, says a new NFL Stadium will be built on the Qualcomm sight in Mission Valley.
That despite toxic oil plumes beneath the surface, and flood plain problems in all the lower portions of the massive Mission Valley parking lot.
But this makes sense, if you can build a stadium that is part of a bigger development, that might include shopping centers, office buildings, and more condos.  It all has to be combined into one package, with a tiny bow on top, because all of that creates the tax fund revenue you need to pay for it all.
Yes this decision takes us back to what could have been done, and was proposed in the early 2000s, the same idea, to develop all that city owned land into something special.  However there is one big difference.  
The Spanos family killed the idea because they demanded they be given the 166-acres of pricey land at the Q-sight to develop themselves.  They would have taken the financial risk, but gotten the enormous financial benefits from all that construction, plus the profits from the Stadium.  The city said no then.
Now the real work begins.  How do you finance it all?.  The City and the County need to brainstorm how much can be built, how much tax revenue can be triggered, and whether San Diego needs more shopping centers, condos, or office buildings, in a city already booming with vacancy availabilities.
We are not talking now about just an $800M stadium for the NFL team, the college team, and our two signature bowl games.  We are talking about a possible $1.6B deal because this is so much more than just replacing the old San Diego Jack Murphy Stadium.
The Spanos family can be of great service in the think tank process, by hand delivering their, and the NFLs, financial commitment to the Stadium project.  A nice round contribution of $400M from them combined, an investment for the profits they will gain, would start this off on the right foot.
It won’t be easy.  There won’t be any hotel tax to use, for that seems earmarked for strictly downtown, and maybe the Convention Center.  I would hope in the last four weeks, a segment of that task force has been in contact with other NFL cities to learn how they got done what they got done. 
And while the Chargers kept saying downtown was their logical choice, it just appears there were too many obstacles.  The MTS land had to be cleared and cleaned up. The Port District Commission had to have a say in location.  The Convention Center issue is still yet to be resolved.  And the Hotel Tax was not going to be available for the complex Stadium project.
The NFL team wanted a recommendation, and wanted it quick.  No ‘half baked deals’ they said.  It took the Task Force just 4-weeks to determine this was the best sight possible, so there should be no complaints from the Spanos-Fabiani corner.  They got that recommendation early.  Now in the next nine weeks, the Task Force needs to create a financing business model that helps everyone.
I cannot buy our community would accept PSLs, for the fans already feel ripped off by ticket prices, parking prices, food prices once you turn off Friars Road. You cannot tax the fans more than they are paying.
But if other cities have creatively financed deals, then maybe San Diego can fight a right formula, taking something that the 49ers, Steelers, Vikings have done in their communities.
I would have thought the Gaslamp idea would have been a slam dunk, but the hurdles seem insurmountable considering the time frame that exists. 
It’s been easy to take shots at the horror-show leadership of past Mayors in San Diego.  The Chargers find that a very convenient way to scald the community.  But the reality is, they wanted lots of free land initially; then we had 9/11; then we had the Wall Street scandal and job layoffs that crippled America.  No one, even with good leadership, was going to get things done with all that for the last group of years.
Maybe the Q is the best sight.  And maybe down road, a portion of unused land, becomes our new Sports Arena too, if the economy, and the city’s progressive mindset gets right.
Salute the Task Force for what they have done in a pressurized situation.  Now we await the financing package.  Won’t be easy, but smart-caring people, in the community should find a way, with the team’s help to make this work.
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