John Moores’ Hidden Hand in Sports Arena Redevelopment

by on August 21, 2020 · 4 comments

in Ocean Beach, San Diego, Sports

Editordude: Matt Potter over as San Diego Reader reminds us that John Moores, the former Padres owner and super-rich San Diego developer, has a hand in one of the proposals before the city in the redevelopment of the the Sports Arena / Midway area.

By Matt Potter / SD Reader / Aug. 19, 2020

How much would a brand-new Midway sports arena cost San Diego taxpayers?

The answer hasn’t yet been made public, but leaks and news releases emerging from city hall indicate a closed-door deal for a costly new sports palace may be just around the corner.

It comes as no surprise to city insiders that a key covert player in the potential giveaway is John Moores, the ex-Padres owner. The super-rich Rancho Santa Fe denizen got himself a ballpark and millions of dollars in taxpayer-financed downtown development rights after showering then-city councilwoman Valerie Stallings with undisclosed gifts back in the 1990s.

“A development group led by Toll Brothers Housing initially proposed a $125 million renovation of the existing arena, but recent public feedback prompted the group to decide a new arena costing $300 million to $600 million is an option,” the Union-Tribune reported August 1. Without mentioning Moores, the paper’s account said that Erik Judson, “who helped coordinate the development of Petco Park in San Diego’s East Village,” had signed onto the project.

Taxpayers beware, John Moores is up to his old tricks.

Though also unmentioned, Judson, an ex-minor league baseball player and former Padres official under Moores and his then-sidekick Larry Lucchino, is the chief executive officer of Moores-owned JMI Sports.

That ubiquitous consulting operation has a major piece of San Diego State University’s new football stadium development. Per the U-T, the would-be kingmaker of the deal is Republican mayor Kevin Faulconer, who departs office at the end of the year. “Once the mayor chooses a developer, his staff will start the process of negotiating a comprehensive lease and development agreement with the winning developer.”

Much of the behind-the-scenes intrigue involves a measure on the November ballot favored by development interests to raise the 30-foot height limit in the Midway district. It promises to turn the area into a forest of high-rises in a repeat of Moores’s lucrative downtown densification. Observers fear that Faulconer may attempt to gift the Moores-led group with the sports arena site and surrounding city-owned property as a down payment on the construction of a new arena. But among the unknowns are whether such a sweeping land giveaway by the mayor and city council would be prudent or even possible amid a growing city budget gap caused by the COVID-19 economic meltdown.

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Will August 23, 2020 at 4:47 am

This is interesting because I’ve been getting an ad on my Instagram feed touting the addition of JMI to the Sports Areena development team. That’s really weird that JMI thinks that advertising on Instagram will benefit their efforts.

I dunno, my IG feed is pretty light hearted. When I saw the JMI advertisement I was disappointed, so I hit the “I don’t like this ad” button.


Paul Webb August 23, 2020 at 11:55 am

I know everybody loves Petco Park and see John Moores and Larry Luchino as as heros, but there were so many things that were either handled wrongly or were just plain bad. The bribery charges that hounded Valerie Stallings out of office (I’ve never understood how accepting a bribe is bad, but giving one is OK). The issuance of guaranteed bonds at an interest rate far higher than the interest rate market for non-insured bonds issued at about the same time. The bonds announced as available to the public but sold only to a large institutional investment firm (I really wanted to buy some of those bonds, they were an incredible deal. I could go on and on.


Muir Avenue Ale August 24, 2020 at 1:09 pm

Land giveaway? In San Diego??? Never . . .


Debbie August 29, 2020 at 1:05 pm

The behind the scenes deal has been announced! Now Kevy can work on the height limit issue and makes sure he lands a cushy job when his mayoral duties are completed.


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