Chargers to seek November stadium vote, site and subsidy total still TBD

San Diego Chargers owner Dean Spanos reportedly has a plan for getting a new stadium in San Diego, and it involves evading all that messy mucking about with environmental impact studies and all that and just taking it right to the people, man:

A source close to the Chargers, speaking on the condition of anonymity, confirmed the team’s desire to have a citizen’s initiative be their course of action for whichever site is chosen, be it Mission Valley or Downtown San Diego.

“No matter which site is selected — Mission Valley or downtown — the quickest and most legally defensible way to gain the necessary local environmental entitlements will be through the citizen’s initiative process,” said the source.

This is one of those California things, where voters can just approve stuff over the heads of elected officials, which to Spanos has to be sounding good about now given how he and local elected officials feel about each other. On the other hand, he’ll still face an uphill battle: He has to pick a site and a funding plan by March 24, get 67,000 petition signatures signed by mid-June, and then win an actual public vote in November. (The San Diego city council could also decide to adopt it without ever putting it before voters.)

That’s not impossible, but given how San Diego voters feel about even the $350 million in subsidies in Mayor Kevin Faulconer’s plan that Spanos has deemed insufficient, it’s not going to be easy. He’d better hope the Chargers are on a terrific winning streak come November, or be prepared to spend a whole lot of money on saturation TV ads.

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10 comments on “Chargers to seek November stadium vote, site and subsidy total still TBD

  1. Niel, is there any data on how stadium proposals fare in high-turnout vice low-turnout elections, since November will be a high-turnout one?

    Or are they hoping it’ll get buried in all the other news/ads so that any analysis of it will be most likely overlooked?

  2. Thanks Neil. I’d been wondering that as well. I mean they already face an uphill battle given the polling shows little support for them. But it could potentially be even worse with the large voter turnout.

  3. Getting 67,000 petition signatures shouldn’t be too hard. There is an industry of paid petitioners here in California so all sorts of poorly crafted wackadoodle stuff supported by “Citizens to [put positive words here]” gets on ballots now. The whole initiative process is a farce.

    Whether or not a stadium initiative would pass is another story. I *think* that initiatives have a better chance of passing in off-years because the nature of low turnout is that the undecided or moderate dissenters don’t have the larger incentive to get out and vote. But I have no data or research to back that up.

    Only slightly related b/c it is California:

    Was listening to Tim Roye’s Warriors Rountable show last night (which I rarely do), and Warrior owner Joe Lacob was on. In talking about the new SF arena, Lacob said that the Warriors knew going into the area development that they were going to have to go it alone. He talked a bit about SF and Oakland civic needs/priorities and wherewithal to help. He said while he would have liked a public “partnership” (and he name dropped the $300M the Kings got from Sacramento and Orlando’s fully public-funded arena), they understood it wasn’t going to happen here. He talked honestly and graciously about it, which was a refreshing tone from an owner.

    Of course, they just landed lucrative naming rights from Chase Bank and the Warriors are 44-4, so his mood is good at the moment.

    Podcast is here:

  4. Thanks as well. I’m really wondering if they’re aiming for November because they think it will pass in November, trying to guarantee a fail to move to Los Angeles, or it’s just the earliest they can get all their ducks in a row to get it on the ballot before the NFL’s “deadline” passes.

  5. The Yorks went for a “citizens initiative” here in Santa Clara. If the Chargers ownership follows the lead of the 49ers ownership, San Diego voters should be aware that such an initiative will be written like an advertisement for a new stadium, minus any disclosure of costs.
    City staff were writing a stadium ballot measure which would have provided more information to voters, but apparently that wasn’t good enough.
    So an astroturf ‘citizen’s organization was formed – Santa Clarans for Economic Progress, funded to the tune of $5 million almost exclusively by Jed York.
    Santa Clara Plays Fair tracked the polling versus the campaign dollars spent through time, and sure enough, the more campaign dollars spent (and promises made which later were not kept), the more the $$ were able to swing the pendulum to the ‘yes’.

    We have a city council majority and mayor who are all firmly in the 49ers pocket. Jed York and 49ers executives help fund the campaigns of their ‘yes’ men on our council. The lack of cost disclosure continues – the Stadium Authority, a municipal agency, will not provide information on the stadium financials to the people of Santa Clara, and apparently won’t provide that information to the three female members of our city council who have asked for that information. The hiding of financial information which began in the stadium campaign still continues.

    The end result now – just yesterday it was announced in the news that Santa Clara’s Stadium Authority (identical to its mayor/city council) and city manager are now under investigation by the Santa Clara County Civil Grand Jury:

  6. @Santa Claran…

    Thanks for bringing back memories I tried to block out (other than the the “Santa Clarans for Economic Progress”–that made me laugh). That whole ordeal was a factor in me bolting the city. Didn’t go far, just across 880 into San Jose, but far enough to escape the madness of the cronies in Santa Clara City Council.

  7. @JC – My spouse and I personally know many long time wonderful families – homeowners – who fled Santa Clara in the aftermath of the Measure J vote because they could see the handwriting on the wall. It is not fun living in a city in which the city council is controlled by outside wealthy entities. It is also not fun for northside residents being trapped in their homes on game days due to the horrible traffic.

    Santa Clara Plays Fair has tracked and reported the campaign financing of city council and school board candidates’ campaigns by Jed York and 49ers executives. None of them live here. The reason for the tampering with our school board is to get a board majority who will vote to allow the city council to take over our school district fields so that the 49ers can have the Youth Soccer Park.

    San Diego should be aware that campaign promises are not legally binding. People who want Yes votes on stadium ballot measures will say literally anything to get votes, and then turn around and do the exact opposite in the future. That’s what the youth soccer players/parents/coaches have found. We were supposed to get an ‘entertainment zone’ on our north side, but now other city facilities which are used for recreation (soccer park, golf course, tennis club, and Great American amusement park) are all being eyed for stadium use or other development. The ‘entertainment zone’ is turning into a giveaway of public lands to city council/mayor campaign contributors.

    People here have started comparing Santa Clara to Bell, CA, for good reason.

  8. November 2016 is the California General Election including a presidential election, so turnout should be in the 40-48% range in San Diego.

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