By John Patrick Anderson
Issue: Funding for new stadium
Best For: San Diegans, beer drinkers, anyone over 21
Craft Beer Debates is a “fun, non-intimidating way to introduce people to local craft beer and local issues in an interactive “house of commons” style format”. The first debate was held Wednesday, Sept. 12, at Slater’s 50/50 in Liberty Station. I’m a huge fan of craft beer, especially craft beer from San Diego breweries, and had seen the debate series mentioned on Twitter numerous times leading up to the event. I decided to go and crossed my fingers that I could finagle a seat despite having failed to sign up in advance.
Thanks to the gracious gatekeeper at the door, I was able to snag a seat in the room, which ended up being nearly at capacity with an estimated 50 people in attendance. The debate panel was comprised of two proponents of a new stadium with some sort of public financing and two opponents to that idea.
On the pro side were Mark Fabiani, special counsel for the Chargers, and Jason Riggs, founder of the San Diego Stadium Coalition. On the con side were Erik Bruvold, President of the National University Institute for Policy Research, and Christian Ramirez from Equality Alliance of San Diego. To enforce the importance of beer at the debate, the moderator was Greg Koch, CEO of Escondido-based Stone Brewing Company.
The debate format was a brief introduction from each of the panelists followed by questions from the audience to the panel and from each panelist to other panelists. There was a brief portion devoted to questions for Mr. Koch about beer, and then additional questions from the audience before finishing with a closing statement from each panelist.
The debate was primarily about whether public financing for a stadium is a good deal for taxpayers or not. However, there were also questions about concession options at Qualcomm, transportation concerns, potential impact on downtown residents, and questions over the impact concussion-related injuries may have on the future of football. The location and atmosphere was boisterous and there was a bit of heckling, ribbing, and booing involved.
Although the amount of new information at the debate was not huge if you have followed news about a potential stadium over the past decade, it was interesting to see the interactions between the panelists and to hear opinions voiced by members of our community — rather than read the words and facts on a screen or paper. I found the debate to be well-balanced and both sides were given equal time and consideration for their points and thoughts.
The topic and date for the next Craft Beer Debate has not been announced, but will hopefully be decided and posted to the website in the near future. I plan to be at the next debate and if you are interested in San Diego issues, or just looking to meet some new people and enjoy a beer or two, you should consider attending as well. In the partisan world we live in, especially in an election year, it was good to see a debate where the opposing sides treated each other with respect and courtesy despite strongly disagreeing about the potential options on the table.
This article originally appeared at San Diego Free Press.