It was great to see the positive editorial in the Nov. 21 San Diego Union-Tribune on the decision by Center City Development Corp. to hire a sports consultant to study the building of a stadium for the Chargers right next door to the Padres ballpark, which CCDC made happen in 2004.
The positive support by San Diego's dedicated and hard working Mayor Jerry Sanders, is big plus. Our mayor understands the importance of the Chargers to San Diego and the great benefits our area has received since the Chargers re-located here in 1961 from Los Angeles when San Diego had the nickname "Bust Town USA."
This writer has been a season ticket holder since the Chargers' arrival and well remembers the historic Jan. 5, 1964 game when the Chargers defeated the then Boston Patriots 51-10 in the AFL Championship game. It was the only game on national television on a day when San Diego's temperature was over 80 degrees with many game attendees in short sleeves. The East and Midwest had freezing temperatures and our city was discovered with the great national exposure to millions of TV viewers. San Diego then started to attract more tourism, conventions and new companies. It is also a real positive that other areas of our county like Escondido, led by its fine mayor, Lori Holt Pfeiler, also understand the importance of the Chargers and are looking into the possibility of a stadium. Our civic leaders understand the importance of the Chargers.
The downtown location is also good for transportation with both the Blue and Orange Line trolley stations right next door and excellent freeway access. Voter response to the Chargers was a 73 percent voter approval of the new Jack Murphy Stadium in November 1965. The public knew the positive things that were happening due to the Chargers moving here. There was not even an opposing ballot argument.
The Chargers also showed how much they supported our community when they agreed to have the new stadium, which opened in 1967, to also be built for baseball. As a result, San Diego was able to have the minor league Padres elevated to the major leagues in 1969. A negative for the Chargers from their support to help get the Padres up to the major league level with a new stadium for baseball is that the sideline seats for football games had to be too far back from the field. New football stadiums have much closer and much better sideline views of the games. The new 1967 stadium for the Chargers and Padres was also a plus for San Diego State football as SDSU was then upgraded to the Division I level by the increase in capacity of the new stadium. The Holiday Bowl was added in 1978 and the Poinsettia Bowl in 2004.
One of the things that is exciting is that CCDC really knows how to make things happen. CCDC was created when Pete Wilson was mayor with the idea of improving our old downtown areas. It is an understatement to say anything but that CCDC has done an outstanding job. San Diego's downtown area is now considered to be one of the finest in the United States. CCDC's fast processing and approval of permits and upgrading of our downtown area has been a bonanza The city has continually appointed outstanding local citizens to the CCDC Board of Directors. CCDC has excellent staff members who know how to make things happen. The new location being reviewed will also tie into the convention center with several large hotels almost next door (a plus for Super Bowls.).
With some downtown designated re-development monies available for a stadium, the city/CCDC will also generate tax revenues from other new projects in the area. A new stadium will also put San Diego back in line for more Super Bowls with the financial and image bonanzas like our area has had with our three previous Super Bowls. Remember TV announcers Al Michaels and John Madden saying over and over during the 2003 Super Bowl in San Diego, "The Super Bowl should be in San Diego every year." It also is a real plus for San Diego to have the ownership of the Chargers held by Alex Spanos and his family now led by his son, Dean, who is the Charger president. Alex and the Chargers lead the way in charitable giving. An example was about $1 million to the "Cedar Fire" problem several years ago.
So in conclusion, isn't it nice to see some positive potential things for our San Diego region like a new stadium that would help our economy and also our image with the almost certain probability of getting some Super Bowls in the winter. People viewing from the cold and frozen areas of the United States will see our great winter weather with people in short sleeves at the game. Many will say "let's move our convention to San Diego" or "let's go to San Diego for a vacation." That will mean jobs and help for our economy. Labor, business, civic leaders, community organizations and governmental leaders need to team-up to make a new stadium something that happens ASAP. It will help San Diego's national image and our economy resulting in more jobs.
Go CCDC -- do a great job like you have always done and help give us a new football stadium. Welcome more and more Super Bowls.
Schmidt is a retired banker and attorney who is active with the chamber and in civic affairs in transportation, housing and sports. He also serves on three public boards and was Gov. Reagan's appointee to three positions in state government.