Daily Transcript Question: Do you support the city's involvement in the construction of a new football stadium at the Qualcomm Stadium site if that involvement includes the uncompensated use of city-owned lands by the developers of the project?
I fully support the construction of a new football stadium at the Qualcomm Stadium site and the proposed development of the surrounding land.
A new stadium and the surrounding development would be a welcome addition to the area -- as long as traffic concerns are addressed and if ample parking and/or transportation to and from events is provided.
This project would enhance the aesthetics of the area, provide much needed revenue for the city, create jobs and provide some relief to our housing shortage.
The more troubling part of the question is the level of involvement of the city.
Considering the city's past negotiations with the Chargers and the recent pension fund debacle, I don't have much confidence in their ability to strike an equitable deal for the taxpayers of San Diego.
I believe the city should retain an independent expert to analyze the financial aspects of the proposal, and prepare a public report detailing the economic benefits for both sides. If the report reveals that the proposal would indeed be a good deal for the city, then I would support the city's involvement.
I also believe that alternate proposals for the use of the land should be considered and compared to the Charger's proposal.
President and owner, Prestige Concrete
I am new to the city of San Diego, but I am not new to the stadium construction debate. My first 10 years in the professional sports business was at the Meadowlands Sports Complex in New Jersey. The Meadowlands is home to the New York Giants, New York Jets, New Jersey Devils, New Jersey Nets and the NY/NJ MetroStars. All of those teams have proposed new stadiums or arenas in recent years, but none of them have offered a deal as fair as the current Chargers' deal. I support the current Chargers' proposal for three reasons:
Firstly, the city loses money on the current lease agreement. The new proposal would erase the existing lease and the Chargers would assume all of the existing dept on Qualcomm Stadium and the debt on the new development. The taxpayers would no longer be burdened by this deficit.
Secondly, the Chargers have pledged about $175 million for infrastructure improvements. During my first week at Qualcomm Stadium, I was surprised to see how bad the traffic can be before, during and after a Charger game. These traffic problems create significant quality of life issues for the residents of Mission Valley. Infrastructure improvements would go a long way to resolving some of those issues. Further, I have read a lot about stadium construction over the last 10 years and I cannot recall an instance where a professional sports franchise pledged to pay for 100 percent of the construction costs and 100 percent of the infrastructure improvements. In fact, most recent construction financing has seen the municipalities absorbing most of those costs.
Thirdly, most of the people whom I know throughout the NFL, including members of the league office, love San Diego. Those same individuals would prefer to see the Super Bowl rotate through two cities, Miami and San Diego.
I am cautious when I mention this because I know the NFL likes to use the Super Bowl as a carrot for municipalities and franchises involved in the new stadium debate. We experienced it in New York. With that said, I believe that a new stadium here would almost guarantee a Super Bowl every five or so years. Obviously, this has a significant financial impact on the city. Without a new stadium, I do not believe that Qualcomm Stadium, as it exists today, will ever host another Super Bowl.
The new stadium debate is always very passionate and it is usually very complicated. I have thought about my position on this issue long and hard. In fact, I lived it for 10 years and I have come to the conclusion that professional sports teams should not be subsidized with taxpayer money. The current Chargers' proposal, however, does the exact opposite. It will remove a financial burden, improve quality-of-life issues and potentially increase tourism revenue in the city. I see that as a decisive win -- which is what we hope for every Sunday!
--Erik Stover Stadium General Manager, Qualcomm Stadium
The Daily Transcript introduces Sounding Board, a regular opinion page feature focusing on current issues. The Daily Transcript will engage community leaders in a dialogue and publish their comments. Readers' comments are also welcome. Send your responses to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Previous Sounding Boards:
Gas Gouging II (Sep. 14, 2005)
Affordable Housing IV/Gas Gouging (Sep. 13, 2005)
Affordable Housing III (Sep. 12, 2005)
Affordable Housing II (Sep. 9, 2005)
Affordable Housing I (Sep. 8, 2005)
Top Priorities (Sep. 7, 2005)
Initial Actions (Sep. 6, 2005)
Financial Remedies (Sep. 2, 2005)