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Nov. 6, 2012 will be the first date the NFL Chargers plan on putting a new downtown San Diego stadium proposition on the ballot. Based on the Chargers planned timeline, a new downtown stadium would be built by the city by 2016 or 2017.

Waiting until a 2012 vote will not change any San Diegan’s mind if the Chargers should get a public subsidy of $500,000,000 taxpayer dollars while thousands of homeless sleep on the sidewalk near the East Village site, especially when you analyze the Chargers great financial situation.

The Forbes magazine article of September 2, 2009 placed a value on all the NFL teams and their owners includes the following yearly financial analysis for the Chargers organization and the Spanos family:

  • The Chargers organization worth increased to $917 million in 2009, compared to $70 million when Mr. Spanos bought the team in 1984. Mr. Spanos’ family, based in Stockton, California, has a net worth estimated at $1 billion, making the Spanos’ the 701 richest billionaires in the world.
  • Yearly revenue for the Chargers is $224 million dollars, with expenses of $127 million for players’ payroll, a balance of $55 million in gate receipts, and $41.6 million in operating income.

The $41.6 million balance makes the Chargers rank 9th of the 32 NFL teams in yearly net income.

We do not want to wait until 2012 to have this civic discussion. We are trying to get a new multi-purpose Chargers stadium on the ballot for this November 2, 2010, but we first have to pass the City Council Rules Committee hearing on June 16, 2010.

Our proposed ballot language reads:

 “Advisory Vote Only. Shall the City of San Diego create a Joint Powers Authority (JPA) with the rest of the County of San Diego region to discuss financing options for obtaining public funding to build a new Multi-Purpose Stadium capable of hosting a NFL Super Bowl; with the JPA, Stadium Operators, and the NFL Chargers financially responsible for the yearly debt service payment for the cost of the stadium structure and operating costs, and limiting City of San Diego CCDC Redevelopment Agency funds to paying the yearly debt service for the costs of preparing the underlying land?”

There are many good reasons to have a vote in 2010 compared to 2012.

The first is that a new stadium could be built by the centennial of the 1915 Panama-California Exposition in Balboa Park. And, construction workers need jobs now because federal stimulus financing for public projects may run out of money.

Second, the Metropolitan Transit District (MTS) bus maintenance yard could be relocated to the soon to be closed Midway Post Office before the site is sold to out of state developers.

Then, there are the pitfalls where San Diego voters always end out as chumps. As a city we seem to fall for the bait and switch, legal loopholes written into the law, sophisticated promises of benefits that never materialize, etc.

Call us naïve, but San Diegans have grown up in the last few years. 

We just might be able to have a new publically owned multi-purpose stadium and event center without going broke or getting suckered. This could happen by spreading the financial risks to the whole San Diego County region, instead of just the poor city of San Diego taxpayers, and having a solid agreement that the public understands.

Can the idea move forward? Can taxpayers ever get a good deal? We will find out at the June 16, 2010 Rules Committee hearing.   

— KATHERYN RHODES

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