SD councilmembers offer free land for Chargers stadium, team owner calls this an insult

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.

22 comments on “SD councilmembers offer free land for Chargers stadium, team owner calls this an insult

  1. When Spanos’ main two options are between: A) relocating two hours up north into a market (Los Angeles) that has very little interest (if any) in the Chargers. Or B) remaining in a market (San Diego) where he has angered the locals & now their city council, Spanos only has himself to blame for this predicament. As I have said here a couple of times recently on this website, the best option would be for Spanos to sell the franchise to someone that will keep the team in San Diego & do everything that they can to win a Super Bowl.

    • I agree. Please sell Dean nobody cares about you crying about someone else building your stadium to make you more money. Go throw a hissy fit somewhere else. SD has way too much pride to be kissing your sorry ass. I respect the hell out of the SD councilmen for doing this to him.

  2. “NFL owner, who really works for his billionaire daddy who is really the owner, is insulted when offered land worth 180 million for a dollar a year, because he wasn’t given 1.5 billion to build a stadium.” Wow. Just wow.

    • The offer is insulting because our city council doesn’t have the power to make this illegal transaction. First off any transfer of over 80 acres requires a public vote even if it was at fair market value. Second, the city only owns about half of the 166 acres. The water department owns the other half and it’s an independent agency that by law must receive FMV for their assets. This offer is a PR scam.

  3. How about this.The Spanos family defers on Los Angeles realizing the next two years would result in lukewarm support and not having the LA coliseum locked up seals the deal.Mark Davis then seeing an opportunity moves the Raiders to LA out of the Bay Area market immediately or for the 2018 season.The Spanos family then moves to Santa Clara with the 49ers and becomes the Santa Clara Chargers.Would the owners give their approval?

    • So the Chargers would be happier with half of the Bay area instead of half of Greater LA?

      btw, anybody who wants to infuriate or insult me with a gift of $180 million – feel free.

      • Right now the 49ers are in a down phase.Mark Davis cannot see this or he would stay put.Is LA a lucrative market?Yes but not for the Chargers.The Rams will be okay.Winning solves alot of problems.As for Chargers staying put for now seems to be a safe option.Yes the fans hate the owner but I’ll wager the Chargers will sell more season tickets in San Diego than in LA next year.

        • “As for Chargers staying put for now seems to be a safe option.Yes the fans hate the owner but I’ll wager the Chargers will sell more season tickets in San Diego than in LA next year.”

          Agreed 100%. If Spanos is dumb enough to relocate into Los Angeles, the NFL might as well restore the television blackout rule for next season. It will be a failure on so many levels.

    • Something something rival team in rival’s old market something something.
      Sharing the new LA stadium or staying in San Diego is likely the Charger’s best bet.

  4. The NFL should have approved the Carson Stadium project and the Rams would have stayed in St. Louis in a brand new stadium. But Goodell, Jones and the rest of the goons were intrigued by Inglewood’s “fancy” campus. Another colossal error in the Goodell era of the NFL.

  5. Historical Note: The $1.00 per year Qualcomm property lease offer is NOT new. When the same people
    presented it live, in person, during April of 2015, some
    hard questions were asked. And it was actually admitted that, due to time constraints, it was necessary to put together a mish-mash of renderings and details that
    were simply borrowed from earlier efforts, now largely forgotten, to commercially develop the site.

  6. Is Jason La Confora throwing crap on the wall or is he telling the truth here? I really don’t know…

    • Q. Why is this a story?
      A. It is news that local taxpayers are giving an NFL team owner a Reality Check. The semi-bogus $1 per year lease offer, gives him a binary choice.
      He can either relocate the team up to Los Angeles
      or bite the bullet and remain at his current location in Mission Valley.

  7. Free land isn’t a bad deal, that is true. But this offer was intended as an insult and Spanos took it as such. By NFL owner standards Spanos is extremely cash poor; he’s a billionaire because of the team with not much else beyond that. He’s not going to finance his own deals like a Kroenke so his only options are public money or giving away part of the team in exchange for some private funding. Since he deems the second option off the table for now that leaves him with begging for public funds. He’s never been in the market to build his own stadium and this $1 lease deal calls him out for that.

    • Correction: His father Alex is the owner of the team and the actual billionaire. Dean is the placeholder until elder Spanos’ death. I can see the citizens of San Diego meeting Spanos half-way with a smaller subsidy than the one currently offered. There is no way in hell no California city is going to pay Las Vegas money for any franchise regardless of the sport.

      Vegas really screwed up things for the foreseeable future, as leagues and their owners are going to expect that kind of subsidy as the starting point, even though the deal is going to cripple the provision of social services in the next 3-5 years.

      • Correction noted. But everything still applies. The family fortune is pretty much entirely the Chargers. They’re not going to do a Kroenke and finance their own deal–they’re not likely to even go 50-50 on any deal because they won’t be able to afford to without giving part of the team away.