Professional sports team chooses to still have stadium to play in for upcoming season

The San Diego Chargers did not opt out of their lease this week and leave themselves homeless for the 2014 season, which surprised absolutely no one. In fact, I’m only mentioning it here so that in the future, whenever anyone in the media starts screaming that “The team’s lease is expiring! They’ll have nowhere to play!”, I can then link to this item and remind everyone that leases expire all the time and no one has to go play football in the parking lot. Now move along, nothing to see here.

San Diego runoff pits two candidates who both love Chargers and hate tax subsidies, because mayoral candidates, duh

The city of San Diego held a special election yesterday to see who would replace their mayor who had to resign after sexual harassment charges — yeah, I know regular election day was only two weeks ago, but the people of San Diego were busy that night or something — and the winner is … nobody!

Councilmen Kevin Faulconer and David Alvarez will likely face each other in a runoff election for San Diego mayor on a still-to-be scheduled date early next year, according to unofficial results from the San Diego County Registrar of Voters…

Faulconer led a field of 12 candidates in Tuesday’s special election with 43.58 percent of the vote, with vote by mail ballots and all 581 precincts counted, according to figures released by the San Diego County Registrar of Voters.

Alvarez finished 2,638 votes ahead of former Assemblyman Nathan Fletcher in the race for second. He received 52,283 votes, 25.59 percent of the vote, and Fletcher 49,645, 24.3 percent.

With another couple of months before we know who the new mayor will be, that gives us lots of time to read SBNation’s Chargers blog’s item from yesterday helpfully titled “San Diego Mayoral Election: Who will build the Chargers a new stadium?” Because when you’re a Chargers fan, it’s not about whether to have the city build the Chargers a new stadium, it’s who will do it.

Anyway, SBNation reports that Faulconer wants to keep the Chargers in town, protect the taxpayers, blah blah blah, and is the preferred candidate of U-T San Diego lunatic owner and diehard Chargers stadium booster Doug Manchester, so presumably he doesn’t mean all that stuff about protecting the taxpayers too seriously. Alvarez, meanwhile, says he wants to keep the Chargers in town, doesn’t believe in spending taxpayer money … okay, this article doesn’t really say anything at all, does it? Suffice to say that soon San Diego will have a new mayor, and whoever it is will end up fielding new stadium demands from the Chargers, and will try to make them happy without actually giving them the taxpayer money that is what it would take to make them happy. Hopefully without groping any Marilyn Monroe impersonators in the process.

Pro-Chargers newspaper threatens team will move to Idaho if stadium not built

Oh, goodie, U-T San Diego, the ersatz newspaper whose owner wants it to be a “cheerleader” for a new Chargers stadium, has a new column out today by sportswriter Nick Canepa on the Chargers’ push for a new stadium. Can’t wait to see which side this one takes!

The drawing board for a new stadium in Mission Valley never was taken down. So the Chargers are going back to it.

It was 11 years ago, when the housing market was a place to shop, that the football franchise proposed building a new stadium, surrounded by condos and retail space, for a portion of the 166-acre Qualcomm Stadium site. City Hallians, with the vision of a one-eyed bat and the spine of a sponge, nixed the plan — for a variety of reasons, not one making sense.

But tell us what you really think, Nick!

Translated into actual journalism, what the column actually seems to be saying is that now that the San Diego Coastal Commission has approved a convention center expansion plan that doesn’t allow for the Chargers to build a stadium as part of the deal, the team may reconsider the site of its current stadium, which it had previously considered, then moved away from once the convention center site seemed an easier get. Though the team is still trying to keep all its options open: Chargers stadium-dream czar Mark Fabiani told Canepa, “We’ll be watching [the convention center site], but we can’t just sit around and wait while the next mayor is campaigning. So, with the economy and housing situations better, we’re talking another look at the Qualcomm site.”

All of which is pretty dull, which is why Canepa then brings out the big guns:

But the team can’t play in Qualcomm forever. The day will come when the stadium, allowed to deteriorate by the City, will become unplayable, and if the franchise has to move to Boise to play, so be it.

Mark the date: October 17, 2013 is officially the first time that the “our team will move to Idaho” threat has been unleashed, however tongue-in-cheekily. Though it’s probably not surprising that Canepa is the one to have done it, given that he’s previously interpreted his job as to make move threats so that Chargers ownership doesn’t have to. Somebody give that guy a raise! And some fresh pom-poms!

Chargers stadium would cost some untold huge amount of money

And we finally have some cost figures for that new San Diego Chargers stadium plan. According to Fox 5 San Diego, aka apparently the only actual journalists left in town:

Chargers’ stadium plan would cost $1B

Okay, that’s a whole buncha money, and a good bit more than the $800 million that was the team’s last estimate, but given that the new San Francisco 49ers stadium is costing $1.3 billion, not totally unexpected. So what are the details beneath that headline?

A new stadium for the Chargers would cost about $1.2 billion if built as a stand-alone facility, but the city could save money by combining the project with the San Diego Convention Center expansion, a team official said Monday.

Okay, so that’s an even bigger bunch of money. And how would this saving money by combining it with the convention center work, exactly?

Fabiani said in the radio interview that if the stadium and convention center expansion are constructed separately, the price tag would be around $1.6 billion. The figure would lower by $1.2 billion under the Chargers proposal to build them together, he said.

Presumably they mean lower “to” $1.2 billion, which means that this whole “saving money” thing would be more accurately described as “the stadium would cost less if the city kicked in some of its convention center expansion money,” maybe?

Any more details, Fox 5 San Diego, on who would pay how much toward this however many billions of dollars, or where that money would come from? No? Oh, well, I didn’t say they were good journalists, just the only port in the storm…

Chargers have exciting new stadium plan, reports Chargers website

People, people, I have been horribly neglecting keeping you up to date on the exciting new stadium proposal by the owners of the San Diego Chargers! See, last Thursday … no, wait, that’s from the Chargers’ own website. Okay, here we go … no, that’s from the former newspaper that fires anyone who isn’t a “cheerleader” for the Chargers stadium. Come on, there’s got to be some halfway professions journalist in San Diego covering this, right? What do we have here, the local Fox TV affiliate? Sure, that’ll do:

Interim Mayor Todd Gloria and San Diego Convention Center Corp. President and CEO Carol Wallace today reiterated their support for the current plan to expand the convention center, despite a new pitch by the Chargers to include a football stadium in the project…

“I want to work with the Chargers to keep them here, but I want to do it in a way that is as thoughtful a process that we went through with the convention center expansion, and one that can allow me to go to the people in the city to explain what we’re getting with that investment,” [Gloria] said.

So, basically what’s going on is that the Chargers management has decided that in all the chaos over the mayor of San Diego resigning over sexual harassment charges and nobody much wanting to take his place, this would be a perfect time to throw out a new stadium proposal, this one to build a new stadium and convention center complex at a different downtown site than the existing convention center. Which nobody knows how to pay for, and no one in elected office seems too excited about, but hey, the city’s plan to expand the current convention center comes up for a hearing next month, so best to throw a monkey wrench in that now, right?

Meanwhile, there’s a wide open field for journalists wanting to investigate whether this Chargers proposal is workable in the slightest. Normally I’d turn to the Voice of San Diego for this sort of thing, but they seem to have only just noticed that it’s football season, so maybe they’re preoccupied with other things. Seriously, anybody?

U-T San Diego transcribes Chargers marketing speech, calls this “reporting”

Good morning, San Diego! Let’s see what’s in today’s local newspaper, shall we?

The San Diego Chargers are an economic driver to this region, but some potential for the offseason is left on the sidelines because Qualcomm Stadium can’t attract big-time events

Oh, no! This is indeed a crisis! Who’s reporting these findings, anyway?

said Ken Derrett, the team’s chief marketing officer Tuesday.

Oh. Well, that’s not exactly an unbiased source, but surely the reporter has called an independent economist to see whather they think Derrett’s claims are legit. Right? (Reads. Reads some more. End of article.) Oh.

I’d normally make some kind of sarcastic remark here about the shabby state of journalism, but given that the newspaper in question, U-T San Diego, is run by people who want it to be a “cheerleader” for a new stadium and call out those who don’t as “obstructionists,” it’s tough to argue that there’a any journalism involved here at all. So instead, kudos to U-T San Diego content manufacturer of the month Jonathan Horn for living up to his employer’s corporate business model! They give out Pulitzers for that, right?

Downtown L.A. stadium declared officially dead, unofficially

I’m not actually how to read this, as the official NFL position on AEG’s downtown Los Angeles stadium plan has been that they’ve hated it for a year and a half now, but: Yahoo! Sports is reporting that two “sources” (one of them a “league source”) are saying that the AEG plan is dead as far as the league is concerned, as “Unofficially, the NFL believes that the cost of the AEG plan, which the league believes will be at least $1.8 billion, will make it unworkable”:

“The numbers just don’t work, no matter how you look at the deal,” a league source said in February. “It’s either too hard for AEG to make money [and pay the debt on the stadium] or too hard for the team. I just can’t see a way for it to work.”

Again, nothing really new, except that the NFL is now sending off-the-record staffers to leak the word that really, it’s time to move on to other L.A. stadium proposals. Not to mention a decidedly on-the-record Marc Ganis, the NFL consultant who might as well be a league source, who pointedly told Yahoo!: “The focus on the sale of AEG has stalled the chance for people in the area to view potential other sites and opportunities. … If Los Angeles leaders don’t move on to look at other options it will only delay the return of the NFL to Los Angeles further, possibly even years longer.”

This might be a reasonable ploy to get L.A. moving on some other stadium possibilities — or at least vague rumors of possibilities — but it’s terrible timing for the Carolina Panthers, Miami Dolphins, Atlanta Falcons, Buffalo Bills, St. Louis Rams, San Diego Chargers, Oakland Raiders, and any other NFL teams I may have left out that are currently using the “L.A. has a stadium deal ready to go!” threat to try to extract money from their current hometowns for new or renovated stadiums. I was just telling a reporter yesterday that these teams are all scrambling for stadium funds now because they have a limited window to use the L.A. threat before it either falls apart or somebody else moves there first; it looks like that window may have just begun to slide shut.


Stadium dreams of the rich and powerful

You know what the difference is between regular people and “newsmakers” (i.e., either rich people or elected officials)? When you or I espouse some so-crazy-it-just-might-work idea — say, the government paying off its debt by minting a trillion-dollar platinum coin — we get made fun of on web discussion boards. When a newsmaker does it, even if all they do is mention it idly in the middle of a talk about something else, it, well, makes news.

And so you have Steve Cushman, a San Diego power broker who’s served as a mayoral aide and as the city’s port commissioner, telling the local PBS station, “If we don’t come up with a solution [for the Chargers stadium battle], I am very concerned they are going to leave San Diego, so I think Qualcomm should be on the table.” On the table as in renovating Qualcomm, or rebuilding anew while putting up new retail and housing on the site, or what? Cushman didn’t say, and KPBS didn’t ask, though he did say “I believe it’s possible” to do it — whatever it is — without taxpayer money.

KPBS’s web article also notes that Doug Manchester, owner of the alleged newspaper U-T San Diego and all-around crazy guy, has recently begun talking fondly of the Qualcomm site, telling a breakfast Q&A session at San Diego State University firmly if ungrammatically, “If you give me $200 million, and I’ll fix Qualcomm Stadium.” How? And does that mean $200 million in total renovation costs, or subsidies he’d need to make a deal work?

Manchester didn’t say, and he didn’t have to. Details like that are for the little people to work out, not newsmakers. And not, apparently, journalists, either.

New mayors talk tough with Coyotes, Chargers

In addition to stadium referendums, Tuesday’s elections brought new mayors in cities facing sports facility battles. And two newly elected officials immediately made tough statements about their plans to deal with their local sports teams.

First, in Glendale, Arizona, home of the Phoenix Coyotes:

Glendale voters on Tuesday decisively selected Republican Jerry Weiers to succeed their outgoing mayor, Elaine Scruggs, and in doing so further complicated their relationship with the Coyotes. Weiers ran on a platform of reining in spending and was highly critical of the City Council’s pending financial deal with Jamison for managing Glendale’s city-owned Arena…

“Glendale is not your cash register,” Weiers said in his acceptance speech Tuesday evening, referring directly to the Coyotes and the spring training baseball teams that use the city’s ballpark. “We all love the Coyotes and Cactus League, but we cannot sacrifice our way of life so they can maintain theirs.”

That’s from SeattlePI, which is reporting on this, naturally, because it thinks that if the Coyotes’ stupefyingly generous lease deal falls apart, maybe the team will move to Seattle. Get in line, pal.

It’s also actually not clear whether Weiers can block the deal, since prospective owner Greg Jamison is reportedly angling for final approval of the lease by early December. Though given that this is the Coyotes, it’s always possible he meant some other December.

Meanwhile, over in San Diego, it’s a Democrat who’s talking tough toward the Chargers on their stadium demands:

The San Diego Chargers’ decade-long quest for a new stadium almost certainly won’t be submitted to voters until at least 2014.

But even that possibility appeared less likely this week with the election of new mayor Bob Filner, a Democrat who has vowed to be “the toughest negotiator the Chargers have ever faced.”…

Filner, a Congressman, states on his campaign website that “our city has been held ransom by our sports teams, a fact we cannot forget.” He states “the only deal” he would make “is one that will give something back to the city and its taxpayers.” He states that could include “partial ownership of the team” and “greater involvement and support of our public schools.”

Of course, nobody ever got elected by promising to be a weak negotiator, so the usual caveats apply. Chargers stadium czar Mark Fabiani (hi, Mark!) immediately issued a statement noting that Filner was elected with the support of labor unions, and a stadium would create jobs, and labor unions like jobs, and can’t we all just get along? Because a stadium plan without a site or funding or an amenable mayor really isn’t a stadium plan at all.

Chargers may now be without stadium site, as well as stadium funds

Speaking of news updates on already-dormant stories:

The state’s decision to end redevelopment has put the fate of Tailgate Park, a 1,040-space parking lot next to Petco Park, in question as the city may have to put the site up for sale to the highest bidder rather than include a portion of it as part of the 14-acre footprint needed to build a $1 billion stadium.

That’s a new San Diego Chargers stadium, mind you, a plan that was already put in question when California eliminated its redevelopment agencies last year. Now, though, the Chargers could be lacking a site, in addition to lacking $1 billion. Whether that’s a significant step backwards I’ll leave to up to readers to decide for themselves.