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I know not everyone in this town cares about football.
Everyone who takes the time to read Voice of San Diego, however, cares about what happens in San Diego. Being a San Diego Chargers fan has taught me many things about politics in this city, and there are a few things I would like voters to consider before the election. I hope voters will take the time to consider the downtown stadium with an open mind.
We spent the year watching that mess on the field while the team and its 55-year legacy was threatening to leave. We fought for our team, practically begging the team’s owners, the Spanos family, to come back to the table. We were mocked by many for our support of a team that didn’t seem to want us. When it appeared hopeless, we saw great leadership from Mayor Kevin Faulconer and the City Council. From record-speed environmental impact reports to City Council-produced stadium renderings and City Council declarations, our city’s leadership appeared to be fighting. We were told time and again that all we needed was a willing partner in the Chargers.
In January, the NFL gave the Los Angeles market to the Rams and then offered the Chargers $100 million to stay in their home market and make a deal. Most fans breathed a sigh of relief and were willing to move forward. But once that happened, the politicians – who had told us over and over that the city just needed the team back at the table – are now showing the loyal fans in this city the same cold shoulder, and we’re left going to home games in the money pit in Mission Valley, which continues to be the biggest pothole the city needs to fill.
During the primary, we had candidates in District 1 fighting over who supports the Chargers plan less. There is an attempt to pit the interest of neighborhoods against those of football fans. As a representative of Save Our Bolts, the Chargers advocacy group I cofounded, I have met with local candidates. They were quick to condemn the Chargers plan, but they also proved they had not even read it. More than once, candidates complained about aspects of the mayor’s Mission Valley plan for a new Chargers stadium, seemingly clueless to the differences laid out in the Chargers 110-page initiative. It was the Mission Valley plan that included $350 million in your general fund money. Yet wannabe council members and mayors seemed more concerned about visitors’ hotel bills than solving the Chargers’ or our convention center space problems.
The Chargers crafted a plan they wanted to appeal to voters, one that has them paying their way on the stadium, and significantly taking pressure off the city to pay for more convention center space. All this paid for by four cents on the dollar of tourist hotel bills. We may never get a better deal. If our city leaders don’t like the Chargers’ plan, we as voters should be asking them what plan they bring to the table. Supporting the Citizens’ Plan, another initiative that, in part, clears a possible path for a downtown stadium, is important for Chargers fans and anyone concerned for San Diego’s future, but voters should understand more is needed than just clearing the way for a stadium.
The threat of Los Angeles is still real for our conventions and football team. Conventions will be turned away for lack of space and end up in Las Vegas or Los Angeles. Super Bowls, Final Fours, college football bowl games, concerts and millions of dollars in tax revenue will go to other cities.
Don’t believe the divisive campaign ads pitting football against neighborhoods, nothing in the Chargers’ initiative hurts your neighborhood. If we lose the team, there is a long list of names who will share the blame. The mayor seems unwilling to show leadership, but you as a voter can. You can do what is best for this community. Read the plan and vote for the Chargers’ downtown initiative.
David Agranoff is a longtime community activist and cofounder of Save Our Bolts. Agranoff’s commentary has been edited for style and clarity. See anything in there we should fact check? Tell us what to check out here