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This time last year, the stars were aligned for the 2010 season to be the Chargers’ last in San Diego. A year makes a big difference.
The new conventional wisdom is that the NFL’s impending labor doom will keep the team from moving to Los Angeles or anywhere else until the league’s owners and players make peace — and no deal looks imminent. Additionally, in the past year the Chargers began talks with the city of San Diego for a new $800 million stadium downtown with city voters potentially weighing in November 2012.
Still, with the NFL season set to begin this Sunday, there has been a flood of recent Chargers news. Here’s a roundup:
• “His dream is to go to L.A., and it may happen.”
Gah! That’s the opinion of an unnamed NFL owner on Chargers’ owner Dean Spanos in this Yahoo! Sports piece. The Chargers, the story said, are at the top of the list of teams that might move to Los Angeles, where two potential stadium projects are in design stages. As you might recall, the Chargers have the easiest way out of their lease of any NFL team. The team’s exit payment to the city drops by nearly $30 million to $25.8 million this year. The Yahoo! article portrays Spanos as an owner coming into his own whose efforts at building a stadium in San Diego “have been met with civic indifference.”
• One major reason it would be in the city’s interest to build a new stadium is that it loses money each year at Qualcomm stadium. That loss isn’t as much as the team claims, but the dollars are substantial — we put it at $12.2 million annually. This spring, we took issue with the San Diego County Civil Grand Jury implying the losses were much greater. The city is readying a response to the grand jury and the Office of the Independent Budget Analyst agrees with us. Another interesting nugget in the city’s grand jury response: The Mayor’s Office said new jobs and new sales tax dollars could be an overall plus to the city’s bottom line if a new stadium is built. The IBA disagreed:
A substantial body of academic research suggests that professional sports teams and facilities have little or no tangible economic benefit to the local economy, and may in fact even have a negative impact.
• New rankings from Forbes magazine show that the team lost 1 percent of its value last year — one of 20 teams to see its value decrease. The Chargers now are worth $907 million. The team remains 24th out of the 32 NFL teams in value.
Forbes adds that the team needs a new stadium to compete financially with the rest of the league.
• Leaked financial documents from various Major League Baseball teams show that owners are making more money than they are claiming, which shows the disadvantage many cities have when negotiating with teams for stadiums. National columnists reserved the most scorn for the Florida Marlins, a team that said it had no money and received a massive taxpayer subsidy for their new $634 million facility. The documents showed, according to Yahoo! Sports:
… the Marlins could have paid for a significant amount of the new stadium’s construction themselves and still turned an annual operating profit. Instead, they cried poor to con feckless politicians that sold out their constituents.
Hat tip to the U-T’s Craig Gustafson for tweeting that Yahoo! story.