Thursday, Nov. 30, 2006 | The San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce deserves to get picked on from time to time.

Far be it for me to pass the duty along to someone else this week.

Tuesday, the chamber sent out a news release announcing this:

Chamber Urges Solution to Keep Chargers in San Diego.


This was the resolution:

“The San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce wholeheartedly endorses the efforts by all government bodies in the region (the county, and each of the various interested cities) that are working with the Chargers. We strongly encourage the efforts of the business community to retain the San Diego Chargers in San Diego as a regional asset.”

So, in other words, the Chamber of Commerce supports keeping the Chargers in San Diego. The chamber is actually pretty late with this one. The San Diego Regional Economic Development Corp. scooped the chamber with a similarly bold statement about wanting to keep the football team months ago.

I would hope that someone would pick on me if I were to write a column that said nothing more than: I support the Chargers staying in San Diego.

That may be the single easiest thing to say in San Diego right now. It’s much harder to actually come up with a solution that would keep the team here and, at the same time, protect the interests of taxpayers.

I’ve tried. The main thrust of my idea was that we should gather together an honest assessment of how much a new stadium would cost and then let taxpayers decide in a formal setting whether they want to pay for it with a small fee.

I advocated the creation of a joint powers authority that would include not just the city of San Diego but perhaps all of the cities that comprise the membership of the San Diego Unified Port District: San Diego, Chula Vista, Imperial Beach and Coronado. The county and the city agreed to explore the idea of exploring the idea of eventually exploring the idea to do something along the lines of something related to the creation of something similar to a joint powers authority.

But that’s gone nowhere. The county even hired the cream of the crop in the sports-business consulting world.

They’ve produced nothing to chew on. No one has.

And here we are, with one month remaining before the Chargers are legally able to discuss their future with other cities outside the county – outside the state. And all we have so far to chew on is a resolution from the Chamber of Commerce that says we should keep the Chargers.

Awesome. Sign me on to that one. For people like me, this city is a better city with a pro football team. My dad is flying into town in just more than a week to go to the Broncos game. With my wife out at sea fighting terrorists with her skinny arms, my dad and I will do a lot of things together – talk, smoke cigars and catch up. But football is special and we’ll have a special time at the game. Undoubtedly.

But I’m also a realist and a person who has become sick about the way local governments spend the public’s money. We can’t just let our streets and sewers crumble while we watch football.

I’m just waiting for the team and local leaders to put something out there – anything – that we can contemplate. It has to be a fair solution that doesn’t hide costs or pretend like we can have everything we want without spending a dime.

We should feel ashamed if our kids (or grandkids) wake up some day a couple of decades in the future and wonder why they’re still paying for a stadium that, by then, could be falling apart a little bit.

A fair solution that clearly analyzed the costs of a new stadium and presented it honestly to voters would be delightful to ponder. It would be up to us football fans to convince our neighbors to chip in a little. If we couldn’t persuade enough of them, we’d have to accept that we just don’t live in a place that wants to support football. Either that, or we’d have to find a different way – outside of the realm of government – to pool money to build a new stadium.

But the chamber’s resolution Tuesday that San Diego should simply keep the Chargers doesn’t do much.

I called Nikki Clay, the chairwoman of the chamber’s board of directors, to see what the point of the chamber’s resolution was.

I mean, didn’t we already know that the chamber supported keeping the Chargers in town? Aren’t we kind of on a different level by now?

Does the chamber have a solution in mind that might keep the Chargers here?

“You’re not going to see anyone on the board of directors of the chamber who will argue in favor of subsidies but we could support a private partnership,” Clay said.

In other words, they don’t want the government to spend money on a new stadium. I guess that helps.

But if this community is going to keep the Chargers, it’s going to take something a lot more bold than that.

Please contact Scott Lewis directly with your thoughts, ideas, personal stories or tips. Or send a letter to the editor.

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