Things really heated up last week on the Chargers stadium front.

The team’s release of a downtown stadium rendering prompted a spate of new coverage. Team special counsel Mark Fabiani also held a Q&A at a stadium booster club meeting last week.

Here’s my take on some of the latest issues emerging, mostly cribbed from Fabiani’s talk:

  • The Chargers financial argument for a new stadium continues to crystallize.

    It breaks down to this: Taxpayers win by building a new stadium. The city saves money because it no longer loses millions each year operating the team’s current Qualcomm Stadium home. The city makes money by selling the Qualcomm site in Mission Valley for development, and potentially the Sports Arena site in Midway, too. If those things happen, taxpayers do better than the $500 million now estimated it will cost them to build the new facility.

  • The idea of a roofed stadium has legs.

    Fabiani mentioned putting a retractable roof over the stadium, first floated in the U-T last month, numerous times. What a roof allows the city to do, Fabiani said, is use the new facility to replace events now held at the Sports Arena. The city could then sell the Sports Arena site for development. A roof would cost an extra $75 million, Fabiani estimated.

  • A word about the cost to build the stadium. The number most often used is $800 million. But that figure, Fabiani confirmed to me after the meeting, just counts the cost of stadium construction. Costs to relocate the Metropolitan Transit System bus yard now located on the proposed stadium site, for example, would move the $800 million figure higher.
  • There are two players in the stadium debate not mentioned much now, but they could become important later on: San Diego State University and Los Angeles-based entertainment company, AEG.
  • San Diego State plays its football games at Qualcomm and would presumably be a new tenant of the downtown stadium. But the university, Fabiani said, isn’t expected to contribute to funding the new stadium because it doesn’t have any money. Instead, he said, the team is counting on support from the university’s alumni network when time comes to lobby for the project. A public vote on the stadium is scheduled for 2012.

    “They’ll be a big part of an election campaign, there’s no question,” he said.

  • AEG’s role is more difficult to parse. The company operates San Diego’s Sports Arena. AEG is the Chargers’ marketing agent in Los Angeles and Orange Counties. It also runs L.A. Live, downtown Los Angeles’ sports and entertainment complex that includes the Staples Center basketball arena.

    Fabiani said Fred Maas — head of the city’s downtown redevelopment agency, the Centre City Development Corp. — has met with AEG to discuss creating an L.A. Live-type setting in San Diego.

    “We’re hoping we can convince them we can create a similar situation for them downtown with a domed stadium,” Fabiani said.

    L.A. Live also is the site of AEG’s football stadium proposal, one that might want to lure the Chargers. 

  • We’ve reported for months that increasing the cap on the amount of money CCDC can collect is essential to the new stadium happening.

    City Council is scheduled to vote on funding a study on increasing the cap on the downtown agency June 22.

    Fabiani put the cap’s importance in its starkest terms yet.

    “Unless the CCDC, the redevelopment agency, gets its spending cap lifted, this project downtown will not happen,” Fabiani said.

  • Much was made of Fabiani saying the current site was the team’s “last, best option” for a new stadium in San Diego. Los Angeles Times NFL writer Sam Farmer, the best reporter on new stadium options in Los Angeles, tweeted that he’d bet the team would look to Los Angeles if the downtown San Diego option didn’t work. The “last, best” phrasing prompted Fabiani to clarify with U-T Sports Columnist Tim Sullivan. “Last,” Fabiani indicated, meant “most recent” not “final.”
  • Also in the Sullivan column: Lobbyist Geoff Patnoe, who was on a 2003 task force that examined Chargers issues, said the city leaders should consider a non-binding proposition on the November ballot to see if voters want them to examine a new downtown stadium.


Dagny Salas

Dagny Salas was web editor at Voice of San Diego from 2010 to 2013. She was an investigative fellow at VOSD from 2009 to 2010.

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