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Of the many things we can expect in 2007, one is some movement on a new Chargers stadium. One way or the other, the region will work together to resolve this conundrum, or the Chargers, by virtue of their agreement with the city of San Diego, will begin shopping the team to other cities who are more willing to accommodate the needs of an NFL franchise. The people of this region, if they care about keeping the Chargers, should be disturbed by the efforts of cities like San Antonio and Anaheim to attract an NFL team.
The key to any successful effort — be it to retain the Chargers or to move them to a new region — will be political will, something that has been sorely lacking here in SD.
There are those who think that multi-millionaire sports team owners don’t deserve help from local government to build a new stadium. I find that logic hard to swallow when you consider what regions do regularly to attract and retain businesses, be they bio-tech or high-tech companies, or simply the headquarters for a Fortune 500 company. In the case of the Chargers, they are not even asking for direct public funding, just the opportunity to recoup the cost of the facility in some fashion from a redevelopment/development project either adjacent to the stadium or in the region.
The original Chargers’ plan for Qualcomm fit the bill perfectly. It was centrally located and despite the protests of new comers to Mission Valley, the ingress and egress opportunities there outpace all other rivals. In addition, Mission Valley is ideal for high density housing and office space, which was critical to making the construction plans for a new stadium “pencil out” for the Spanos’. Unfortunately, it appears that deal is dead, due to the concerns over litigation that would likely result from the City Attorney’s Office, or one of his supporters (the recently retained Bruce Henderson comes to mind).
So, here comes Chula Vista and National City, with a set of bold, visionary leaders who have found the will and are looking for the way to make this happen. It’s interesting that the South County used to get what my former boss called the “shift and shaft.” This meant that valuable economic resources were shifted elsewhere in the county giving South Bay the shaft. Now it appears that the South Bay may actually “shift” an important resource to their region and “shaft” the rest of the county for sitting on their hands. Fortunately, the “shaft” is just hyperbole since the whole region will benefit from keeping the Chargers here.
My prediction is that the Chargers stay in San Diego and that the region is spared the ignominy of losing an important economic and civic asset by the efforts of once discounted south county cities. What do you predict?