I’m glad to see that, after talking amongst yourselves for a little while, the responses are already rolling in at 10 o’clock at night. So let’s get to it.

LMG writes:

“Why is it that the billionaires can’t finance their own stadium? . . . Do us all a favor and build your own stadium or ship out! I was a season ticket holder for 12 years, havent [sic] renewed in the last 4 years cause of all this b.s. WHY IS IT? Please don’t be a politician and answered honestly.”

Well, LMG, we do miss you as a season ticket holder, but fortunately for the Chargers you are in the distinct minority. By the time the 2007 season begins, all Charger season tickets are likely to have been sold — an unprecedented achievement in franchise history. So if you’ve ever had second thoughts about not renewing your tickets, now is the time to act before it is too late!

As for why “billionaires can’t finance their own stadium,” the answer is simple: Every business, including an NFL franchise, operates in a competitive marketplace. If every other NFL owner financed his own stadium privately, then it would be possible for the Chargers to do so as well and remain on an equal, competitive footing with the other NFL teams.

But, as we all know, 100 percent private financing simply does not occur in the NFL marketplace. On the contrary, the average NFL stadium has been paid for with 65 percent public financing. In NFL cities the size of San Diego, the average public subsidy has been more than 80 percent.

In short, whether you like it or nor, the Chargers operate in a marketplace where the team’s competitors have benefited from significant public financial support.

In this kind of competitive marketplace, the Chargers have been forced to explore other options. Let’s be clear: We have never asked for tax dollars the construction of the stadium; we have offered to pay for the stadium privately, 100 percent.

And we have even offered to pay privately for the necessary infrastructure improvements. What we have asked for is a government partner that is willing to work with us to enable the development of an under-utilized piece of land so that the profits from such a development can be used to finance that part of the stadium that, in other cities, is generally paid for with public funds. This might involve the government leasing the land to the team, deeding the land to a development partner, or providing additional density and development rights for an existing, privately-owned parcel of land.

As many unbiased observers have pointed out, the proposal made by the Chargers is, far and away, the most ambitious offer ever made by an NFL owner to a city.

No NFL owner has ever proposed to infuse so much private capital into a stadium project and agreed to assume so much development-side risk to make a project succeed. You could look it up. Nothing like this has ever been proposed before in the NFL.

Now, in the end, such a proposal may still be unacceptable to you, and that’s fine. But we hope you will at least recognize the lengths to which the Chargers have gone to structure a proposal that can both work for the public and allow the Chargers to remain competitive in the NFL marketplace.

Al Davis (the one from San Diego, not to be confused with the Oakland Al) wrote:

“Nice job Mark. Do you have any inside information as to whether your old boss is seriously considering a run for president? Please tell…..”

I wish I did have some exclusive information on Al Gore’s intentions, but I don’t. I think the world of Gore — even after moving my family to Nashville for a long, hot summer and ultimately a very frustrating winter in 2000.

He is a good man who entered public life for all the right reasons. Unfortunately, the endless, often banal, and sometimes absurd presidential campaign process never agreed with the former vice president, and it would certainly be understandable if Gore feels he can do more good as a private citizen than as a candidate. But people are hungry for mature, competent leadership by a president capable of foreseeing and then heading off crises — and Gore’s prescience on the issues of terrorism, the environment, and the Iraq debacle (and the fact that he got robbed in 2000) would seem to make him the right person for these times.

Gore’s entry into the race would make this one of the most intriguing presidential campaigns ever, and I’m hoping (but not betting the house) that it happens.


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