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Chargers special counsel Mark Fabiani wrote in with a response to John Madden’s apparent compliment of Qualcomm Stadium during last night’s broadcast of the game against the Steelers.

Here’s Fabiani in his own words:

People will certainly forgive John Madden for commenting only on the quality of the Qualcomm turf and avoiding discussion of the extremely bad deal that the Qualcomm site represents for taxpayers. After all, if the local defenders of the Qualcomm status quo such as Mike Aguirre refuse to explain the actual facts to the public, why should Coach Madden feel obliged to do so in the middle of an otherwise enjoyable NFL broadcast? But the numbers are clear: The only thing greener than the grass on the field Sunday night is the color of the money that San Diego taxpayers pour into the Qualcomm site every year. Here’s how it breaks down:

  • $19 million a year to subsidize the operations of the site, according to the Union-Tribune.
  • $50 million for deferred maintenance that city officials say must be taken care of at the stadium.
  • The city’s decision to pay off the stadium bonds and interest all the way through the year 2027, long after the Chargers’ current lease expires in 2020, at the rate of $6 million a year.

    When you add it all up, if the Chargers simply play out their remaining lease at Qualcomm Stadium through 2020, San Diego taxpayers will have to spend approximately $358 million just to keep what will then be a 50-plus-year-old-stadium standing upright. (The rough calculation: $19 million per year times 14 more seasons through 2020 = $266 million; deferred maintenance = $50 million; seven years of bond payments at $6 million per year from 2020 through 2027 = $42 million.)

    And this approximate $358 million outlay is only the tip of the financial iceberg for the taxpayers of the San Diego region. For all of the 21 years between now and 2027, when the bonds on the then 60-year-old stadium will finally be paid off, taxpayers will see almost no revenue generated from 166 acres of publicly-owned real estate – opportunity costs that will easily mount over the years into hundreds and hundreds of millions of dollars of never-realized property, sales, and hotel taxes.

    So the defenders of the status quo can point all they want to the picturesque stadium grass – hoping, I suppose, that all of this gesticulating will somehow divert taxpayers from the actual facts. For – as I’ve found out at hundreds of community meetings throughout the county – when taxpayers understand the facts, they are as eager as anyone to find a way to build a privately-financed stadium that will relieve the city of San Diego of its ongoing obligations at the Qualcomm site and unleash the economic potential of that Mission Valley land.

There’s Fabiani. Now, what do you think?

SCOTT LEWIS

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