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Too many fouls in stadium playoff

While San Diego is pondering whether to build a football stadium to keep the Chargers in town, Japan is also facing challenges for a new stadium for the 2020 Olympics. The cost seems to be in the same ballpark, at $1.4 billion.

The city of Tokyo is clashing with the Diet, the Japanese parliament, over which authority will have to pony up most of the money for a new stadium for the Olympic Games.

Sound familiar?

Apparently local government and taxpayers are not too keen on the extravagant cost and requirement to always have a state-of-the-art facility for a sporting event.

That really sounds familiar.

As in the case of San Diego’s Qualcomm Stadium, Tokyo had an Olympic stadium in 1964, which was probably state-of-the-art at the time, but unacceptable in the 21st century. If there was any consideration to upgrade the former Olympic Stadium, it went away when the structure was torn down this year.

The recurring demand in the sporting world is for a new stadium. Advocates should take into consideration that many areas in Europe that were occupied by the Romans in the 1st century stage cultural events in the colosseums built by the Romans. Today, anything 20 years old is considered obsolete.

If the city of San Diego negotiates a deal with the Chargers that requires a new stadium, that would mean certain demolition of Qualcomm. The NFL leaders and Chargers owner won’t have any concern that two national award-winning structures in San Diego are the Salk Institute in La Jolla and Qualcomm. What a shame to destroy that legacy.

What is proposed as an “affordable” new stadium? The artist’s rendering submitted in connection with the mayor’s task force is not an architectural gem compared to Qualcomm.

A San Diego Union-Tribune analysis reported that billion-dollar stadiums are the new norm. Before the Great Recession, several stadiums were built for $600 million or less. From 2010, the cost has jumped to $1.7 billion for New York and proposals of $1.7 billion for Carson and $1.8 billion for Inglewood.

With these proposals in mind, a poll was taken showing that 48 percent of residents said they believed the Chargers will stay in San Diego, while 40 percent said they will move to Los Angeles. The response to public funding for a new stadium was less supportive as a means to keep the Chargers in San Diego.

As the mediation talks began in early June, the public response appeared to be turning against keeping the Chargers in San Diego at taxpayer cost. Reporters began to question the intent of the negotiators for the Chargers and the lack of transparency that triggered new public backlash two weeks ago.

Columnists and editorial writers began to weigh the value of city needs against the potential cost to build and maintain a new stadium. Most obvious is the delayed maintenance on public buildings, not to mention the condition of most of our streets and underground utilities that have deteriorated beyond normal maintenance.

Councilmember Mark Kersey, chairman of the city infrastructure committee, reports $1.7 billion of unfunded city facility repairs. The 284 city-occupied facilities surveyed showed 37 fair and 115 poor. Councilmember Todd Gloria says that Balboa Park’s 100-year-old water and sewerage needs replacement. Public toilet backups are too frequent.

An editorial in The San Diego Union-Tribune compared the current negotiations to Kabuki Theatre — a staged visual event not representing the real intent of the drama.

A thoughtful commentary by Mark Riedy (The Daily Transcript, April 29) equated the Chargers’ craving for a new stadium to San Diegans’ need for better civic social and economic funding. He wants to distinguish between “wants” and “needs.”

Riedy reminds us that stadium revenue shortfalls (often a deficit) come at the expense of fixing potholes and expanding water desalination, among many city infrastructure needs.

The sweetheart deals given to the Chargers have cost the city $3.2 million since 2006. The team keeps most of the revenues from sales and parking, and gets a lease credit for mandated ADA seat removal that alone cost the city $1.66 million in 2008.

The decision to underwrite the cost of keeping a football team in town is weighed in against the need for city services that benefit more citizens. That is the real playoff for a proposed ballot in December. However, the fouls in current negotiations continue.

The Chargers principal negotiator, Mark Fabiani, says the talks are going nowhere due to a questionable environmental impact clearance to develop the Mission Valley site. Even worse, the NFL will think this is a joke, he reports. That’s really a foul.


Ford is a freelance writer in San Diego. He can be reached at johnpatrick.ford@sddt.com.

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1 UserComments
Steve 12:00am June 19, 2015

Odd, isn't it, that the city of San Diego stands on the street corner with it's pockets pulled out like the guy on the Monopoly card when it comes to paying its fairly and openly negotiated pension and health care obligations to its employees, both working and retired, but they're as flush as G.I.Lovemoney just after passing "GO" when it comes to monuments to the plutocracy like "state-of-the-art" stadiums (read: luxury boxes for the fat cats). Yes, passing strange. I wonder how that happens.