Chargers Give San Diego the One-Finger Salute

by on February 20, 2015 · 7 comments

in Culture, Economy, History, San Diego, Sports

startinglinelogoBy Doug Porter / San Diego Free Press

The drama surrounding the San Diego Chargers’ pursuit of a stadium–somewhere, anywhere–is turning out to be much more entertaining than much of the action on the field in recent years. Today I’ll look around at what’s been said and do my best to provide some insight.

Yesterday the team let it slip–as a story in the Los Angeles Times was going to press–that they were working on a joint stadium deal with the Oakland Raiders for a facility in Carson, California, a city of less than 100,000 people with a history of shady dealings.

The coverage at ESPN included a nugget from an unidentified source saying the teams had been working together on this deal for the past nine months. The Chargers, by the way, denied inquiries from the St. Louis media about a deal in LA just a few weeks back.

Nobody was unhappier about the stadium news than Mayor Kevin Faulconer, who’d like the public to believe he’s been making a serious effort towards keeping the team in San Diego. After all, nobody wants to run for reelection with “lost our beloved Chargers” as a signature accomplishment.

From NBC7 News:

Mayor Faulconer said negotiations were moving slowly over the last nine months because the team wasn’t committed to finding a resolution.

“That explains a lot, that explains the animosity toward the group that we were trying to put together here in San Diego,” Faulconer said. “That’s not being upfront. That’s not how you do business.”

Here’s the official statement via the Mayor’s press office:

“It’s now abundantly clear that while we have been working here in San Diego to create a plan for a new stadium, the Chargers have for some time been making their own plans for moving to Los Angeles. This would amount to abandoning generations of loyal Chargers fans. Despite this news, we are going to continue our efforts to develop a viable stadium solution.”

la stadiumMaking the rounds of the morning talk shows, Faulconer pledged to speed up the time towards getting a proposal finalized to build a new stadium in San Diego.

The Los Angeles Times story provided the official rationale and insight into why a deal in Carson is attractive to both teams.

In a statement given to The Times on Thursday, the Chargers and Raiders said: “We are pursuing this stadium option in Carson for one straightforward reason: If we cannot find a permanent solution in our home markets, we have no alternative but to preserve other options to guarantee the future economic viability of our franchises…”

…The reason the franchises would be able to privately finance a stadium in Carson, as opposed to their own cities, is that the L.A. market could better support the sale of hundreds of millions of dollars of preferred seat licenses, one-time payments for the right to buy a season ticket. The teams would also get revenues from naming rights; sponsorship and advertising would be far more lucrative than in smaller markets.

It’s widely speculated in NFL circles that a franchise that moves from a smaller market to L.A. could end up being worth 150% of its current value. Franchises would probably have to pay a hefty relocation fee, although the league has never specified an amount.

UT-San Diego’s coverage includes the attractiveness “personal seat licences” (paying for the right to bid on a ticket) in the LA market as a financing vehicle, something the Chargers have decided won’t fly in the San Diego marketplace.

One source said the Chargers alerted Faulconer prior to the story being posted by the Los Angeles Times, which first reported the plan. The team reiterated to the mayor its commitment to work toward a solution in San Diego. The sides had scheduled a meeting between Chargers President Dean Spanos and Faulconer for Tuesday, and the team offered to move up the timing of the meeting in light of the announcement…

…The Chargers’ and Raiders’ ability to build a stadium in the Los Angeles area without public funds — while they both seek public assistance in their current markets — is derived from a greater ability to sell lucrative personal seat licenses, as well as greater luxury seating and sponsorship revenue potential than in San Diego or Oakland.

Are the Chargers and Their New BFFs Serious?

From justblogbaby.com

From justblogbaby.com

Things could turn out differently than the scenario laid out by the teams yesterday, but it will a) cost San Diegans a lot more than has been previously anticipated and b) the NFL will have to reject the idea.

The first thing you need to know is that the teams have already purchased the 168 acre former landfill.

The property comes complete with a pre-approved Environmental Impact Report.

…From the law firm of Aleshire & Wynder, LLP which handled the EIR approval for a now discarded development idea:

By way of background, the Carson Marketplace (the “Project”) is a 168-acre mixed-use development located southwest of the 405 Freeway at and north of the Avalon Boulevard interchange in the City and is one of the largest projects in Los Angeles County…

…The Project is also the site of a former municipal landfill that operated in the late 1950’s through the early 1960’s (and closed before the City was incorporated in 1968). As such, the Project was carefully designed to include mitigation measures to address concerns over the Project site being a former landfill and to ensure public safety.

An environmental review process pursuant to the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) was performed for the Project and a Draft Environmental Impact Report (DEIR) was prepared for the Project site…

…on February 8, 2006, the Agency Board voted unanimously to adopt Resolution No. 06-07 which: (1) certified the Final EIR for the Carson Marketplace, (2) adopted findings of fact and a statement of overriding considerations, and (3) adopted a mitigation monitoring and mitigation program. A Notice of Determination for the Project was filed with Los Angeles County on February 9, 2006.

Heere's Carson

Heere’s Carson

Carson also has the pre-requisite business-friendly environment. A decade back the then-mayor and a majority of members of the city council were indicted for demanding kickbacks from companies that sought to do business with the city.

More recently local politicos have faced off against environmentalists seeking to ban fracking by Occidental Oil. In July the Mayor co-hosted a “Jobs for Carson” event, a ploy designed to use veterans as window dressing to gain support for an additional 200 oil wells.

Since a ballot measure may be part of the picture in Carson (at a minimum there will be infrastructure expenses), it’s relevant to know that the city council recently removed the city clerk from responsibility for election oversight, paying a private firm $25,000 to handle the March 2015 elections.

These are just the highlights. A citizens group calling itself Carson Connected has a handy-dandy list of very questionable activities by city politicians.

Blame Bob Filner for the Chargers’ Exit?

Bolts FilnerI have my doubts about America’s finest City being able to match an offer either team would be foolish to refuse. Even if a few public officials get indicted along the way.

I made a joke on twitter this morning about Faulconer’s Stadium Task Force looking for a way to blame former Mayor Bob Filner for the current situation.

Scott Lewis from Voice of San Diego rather quickly pointed out this idea wasn’t as absurd as I thought it might be.

I’m sure that Filner’s contentious relationship with the local hoteliers who effectively run the Convention Center might have factored into that situation.

The UT-San Diego editorial board wanted us to know that all is not lost:

Nevertheless, the Chargers will face a huge backlash if they seem at all insincere about their stated desire to keep working with the city of San Diego to come up with a stadium solution that can be offered to voters for two-thirds approval in 2016 — or in a special election held sooner if the task force can come up with a thoughtful, workable plan somewhat quickly.

Now is not the time for city leaders to despair or give up. We still have a chance to keep the Chargers in the short term — and in the medium term, the San Diego region will be attractive to the several NFL teams believed to be mulling relocation.

Coulda, Woulda, Shoulda…

 

{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

Mike February 20, 2015 at 1:32 pm

That headline isn’t really fair to the Chargers. We here in SD have stated many times that a private business should earn their own profits rather than asking for taxpayer hand outs. And here they are, doing it. They’re looking after their best interest and moving, which is one of the consequences we are all prepared to face. Right? We are all prepared right?
At this point, we can all just accept this outcome since so many of us didn’t want to help them out. Rightly or wrongly, there isn’t support from SD to build them a new stadium. So it would be a little harsh for us to now demonize the Chargers for leaving. We knew this could happen and we shouldn’t really be upset with this move.

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CliffHanger February 21, 2015 at 6:47 pm

Whether you want to blame the Chargers or the City, it doesn’t matter. The warped finances of the “non-profit”, multigabillionaire-owned plaything called the NFL will keep making bucks for those who already have a ton of it.
I’m so done with the NFL.
Just tear it all down and restore some of the San Diego River watershed so our beaches get healthier.

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jettyboy jettyboy February 22, 2015 at 11:23 am

I find it difficult to believe that people fail to understand that the Chargers are a corporation/business that has a single goal of making a profit. If you think they care about fans, cities or anything else that would hinder their goal you are being suckered.

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Tyler February 22, 2015 at 12:03 pm

Which is why the US franchise model for professional sports will ultimately be its downfall.

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Seth February 22, 2015 at 5:30 pm

There’s exactly nothing wrong with that, though. They have every right in the world to move to a bigger market and make more money while increasing the value of their company. San Diego can either work in earnest to help keep them, or they can let them walk if the numbers dictate that the proposals aren’t in the public interest. Nothing wrong with that either. What the City can’t do, however, is have it both ways, doing nothing for them while then begrudging them for doing what is best for their company. Of course they are leveraging the City to make an actual decision for a change. So make one, Mr. Mayor.

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Wireless Mike February 23, 2015 at 3:00 pm

“Carson Chargers” has a nice ring to it.

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Lenny Pappano April 15, 2015 at 8:14 am

Even though the Chargers started in LA, those of us who are nostalgic about the old AFL would cry if they left….

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