What with San Diego voters having resoundingly rejected San Diego Chargers owner Dean Spanos’s request for $1.15 billion to build a new stadium and convention center, several city councilmembers have taken it upon themselves to make a counteroffer: We’ll give you the land for free if you’ll build the stadium your own damn self.
The current site is equivalent to over 60 downtown blocks that can be transformed from an empty parking lot to a state-of-the-art, one of a kind NFL experience. The development of the current site with a $1 per year 99-year lease would be a good starting point for a discussion.
This is not a terrible offer: The land itself is valued at $180 million, so that’s not chicken feed. On the other hand, it’s understandably a big comedown from a $1.15 billion subsidy ask, so Spanos is all pissy about it:
That conduct has been viewed by owner Dean Spanos as an effort to embarrass him and his family and to deflect blame for a relocation from the politicians via a last-minute proposal that will never survive scrutiny.
“If the goal was to infuriate the single remaining decision-maker in this process, mission accomplished,” the source said.
On the one hand, yes, this was clearly a PR move by the councilmembers, who know that Spanos is unlikely to accept the offer, but now can say “We offered him a $1 a year lease, what more does he want?” On the other, Spanos is now more clearly than ever saying, We need a new stadium in order to survive in San Diego, but we’ll only make money on a new stadium if someone else gives us the money to build it. That’s a pretty neat encapsulation of the stadium game, right there.