The San Diego Chargers owners have let drop some more details about their proposal for a downtown stadium, in a briefing for reporters yesterday. As revealed last week, the Spanos family wants a whopping 4% hotel tax hike, which would help fund a new $1 billion stadium, to open by the year 2022, like so:
- The city would take the proceeds from the hotel tax hike and use it to sell $1.15 billion in bonds, $350 million of which would be used for stadium construction, and another $200 million of which would be used to buy land for the stadium/convention center complex.
- The Chargers owners would put in $350 million of their own money, presumably with the help of selling naming rights. (Sports team owners always get to call naming rights money their contribution, even if the stadium is partly paid for by other parties and if they don’t themselves own it. This is usually termed “standard business practice,” which is a euphemism for “all the other kids’ moms let them do it.”)
- The NFL would kick in $200 million in G-4 money, plus the $100 million in consolation prize money it agreed to give the Chargers and Oakland Raiders out of the Los Angeles Rams‘ relocation fee.
- The Chargers would pay for cost overruns. No word yet that I’ve found on who’d pay for operating costs or property taxes.
The other $600 million in bonds would go to pay for construction of a convention center annex. Chargers execs say there would also be money left over from the tax hike for the general fund and other uses, though they didn’t provide details, presumably because they have no friggin’ clue how much money the tax hike would eventually produce.
This would be somewhat worse for San Diego taxpayers than the already-not-great plan that Mayor Kevin Faulconer proposed last summer: That one would have been limited to $350 million from the public (part from the city, part from the county), whereas this one also includes land costs, though part of those would go for the extra convention center space. (Which San Diego also probably doesn’t need, but I’ll leave that for Heywood Sanders to go into.) The main takeaway here, in fact, looks to be that Dean Spanos intends to take the $100 million the NFL gave him from L.A. relocation fees and pocket it, using it to reduce his stadium costs rather than the city’s, which is to be expected, I guess, given that he’s the one writing this proposal.
Actually, the real main takeaway is that Spanos is trying to go with an “everything but the kitchen sink” plan: It’s not just a stadium, it’s a convention center! And money for tourism promotion! And for the general fund! And to get Agent Carter back on the air! The hope here — in addition to getting backers of a convention center expansion on board their stadium campaign — is to so muddy the waters in advance of any public vote that people feel there’s something for everyone, and maybe it squeaks through to a majority.
It’s still not clear whether the stadium bid needs a majority or a supermajority of voters in November, incidentally, and may not even be worked out by the courts before the vote. Plus, there’s a mayoral election in November, though it may be skipped if someone is a clear winner in the June non-partisan primary. This is all a big flaming ball of uncertainty, in other words, so it’s probably appropriate that the funding plan is, too.