COMMENTARY | COLUMNISTS | RON CARRICO

Science or sports?

There was an intense civic argument about 100 years ago over what they called "smokestacks or geraniums."

The debate was whether San Diego should develop into a heavy industrial city or a low-technology, retirement city. Oddly, “Geranium” George Marston lost the 1917 San Diego mayoral race that year.

Fortunately, San Diego never developed much of an industrial base — or we would be Long Beach — mostly because of our mountains to the east. But that is a different story.

Now in 2015 we are faced with the decision of whether we should become a city of science and education or a city continuing to pursue feel-good gladiatorial sports. There are strong feelings about whether the Chargers should stay in San Diego or depart for the greener monetary pastures to the north.

As the debate continues and our city leaders negotiate with the Chargers, I think we should consider very positive things that can be done if and when the Chargers vacate.

With the 168-acre site of Qualcomm Stadium we have a great opportunity to expand a college campus while preserving a San Diego State University football field and using the stadium for the Poinsettia and Holiday bowls.

With little modification, the Q structure could be a very interesting college campus. The simplest part would be to covert the skyboxes to classrooms. Meanwhile, the trolley stop and parking facilities are already in place.

In addition, we could dedicate the north end of the parking lot for commercial and develop the area along the San Diego River as a park. What could be better for our town’s reputation than continuing to develop a 21st-century capital of science and education? Instead of geraniums or smokestacks, how about science or sports?

There are charitable people and organizations that give readily to education, such as the Jacobs School of Engineering at UCSD. What could better enhance the city than using the Qualcomm facility to advance science and engineering and provide a training ground for the many high-tech companies in San Diego?

I admit to not being much of a Charger fan — but mostly because of the greed demonstrated by the owners. They want us to be Charger fans, but I see nothing that indicates they are San Diego fans.

If our politicians are honest, they should admit we can’t afford the Chargers anymore. In addition, they must consider what everyone in the city will sacrifice to afford 10 Charger games a year. For instance, continuing declines in infrastructure due to the $20 million or year per year cost of the construction bonds. Not to mention the $40 million or so to tear down Qualcomm.

No new taxes? Sure, just as Petco Park was to have no new taxes, but now that costs us about $11 million per year.

We have a great opportunity if the Chargers leave. And I can't wait for a Qualcomm campus for UCSD, USD or San Diego State.

Someone please get Mr. Jacobs on the telephone and please, Mr. Faulconer, tell the Spanos family no thanks. We have better plans.


Carrico is a San Diego attorney and can be emailed at roncarrico@hotmail.com. Comments may be published as Letters to the Editor.

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