The group the mayor has assembled to figure out a proposal for a new Chargers stadium will be much different than the one that last met, more than a decade ago, on the same issue.

It will be secret.

It’s not an official city commission, so the group’s hearings will not be subject to open meetings laws and other similar restrictions. The mayor’s spokesman, Craig Gustafson, told me they don’t plan to meet in public at all. He said you can send an email if you want:

So it’s not a city commission but the city is, apparently, handling its email.

That’s a major distinction from the last Citizens Task force on Chargers Issues, which met in public, moved its meetings around the city and let reporters watch. Here’s a reflection from that experience by one of the members, Geoff Patnoe.

The press and public were major features of the meetings back then. Its correspondence and reports are still available on the city’s website.

We Stand Up for You. Will You Stand Up for Us?

The Convention Center task force in 2009 was similarly public.

Gustafson said the new task force will be completely separate from the city.

The mayor also hedged a bit on his pledge that what emerges from the group will go on the ballot.

“If there is broad support for the proposal, it will be slated for a citywide vote, which will allow all San Diego voters to have the final say in this matter,” he wrote in his announcement, where you can also peruse the bios of those who will meet. They will choose their own chairperson.

Update: Gustafson emailed to say that the new group, the Citizens Stadium Advisory Group, actually will not be receiving the email sent to He wanted to clarify that address was only for submitting feedback to the mayor. But the group can, I guess, request it through the California Public Records Act: “Like other public information, the group will have access to what’s sent to this email,” Gustafson said.

I’m sure they’ll be filing public records requests for that email right away.

That would mean that, right now, there’s no way for the public to give input to this group.

Some more discussion:

    This article relates to: Chargers Stadium, News, Quest, Share

    Written by Scott Lewis

    Scott Lewis oversees Voice of San Diego’s operations, website and daily functions as Editor in Chief. He also writes about local politics, where he frequently breaks news and goes back and forth with local political figures. Contact Scott at or 619.325.0527, and follow him on Twitter at @vosdscott.

    La Playa Heritage
    La Playa Heritage subscribermember

    Funding solutions with no Tax Increase. 

    The NFL and Chargers can fund their own Ballot Language in 2015 to move SANDAG's existing TranNet funds for paying for North County and South Bay Freeways to the City of San Diego for full reclamation of our public tidelands to create space for storm water capture and parking. 

    All CEQA-level Capital Improvement Projects (CIP) and Regional Planning of our Public State Tidelands should be moved to SANDAG, our State- and Federally-mandated Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO). This move of Long-Range Planning to SANDAG our Regional Planners could make available over $150 million a year, with Billions to come, all for Regional Projects including a Contiguous Convention Center and NFL Stadium on our public Waterfront, and money for the San Diego River, San Dieguito, Mission Bay, Boardwalk. 

    Neither the Unified Port of San Diego and/or the San Diego Airport Authority including the San Diego International Airport should be allowed to Hoard $150+ of Million CIP Cash that could be used for Regional Infrastructure including a subsurface Trolley to the Airport. A full reclamation of our Public Tidelands could create new free  space.

    Or City of San Diego should use their 40% Weighted Vote to put the issue to a vote through SANDAG to keep all money created with the City of San Diego limits, to stay within City limits.  

    David Crossley
    David Crossley subscriber

    @La Playa Heritage  --No combo stadium/convention center.  The center does NOT need to be expanded, but they could fix the tens of millions of dollars of current maintenance backlogs.  The convention center board wants nothing to do with a stadium as part of their facility.

    David Benz
    David Benz subscriber

    @David Crossley  I've read some convention business will be lost without the expansion.  What information are you relying on to make your claim that "the center does NOT need to be expanded"?  For the record, I'm not saying that the expansion is needed or that it is a good investment.

    The "Convadium" is just the Chargers CYAing so they can move to Inglewood.

    David Crossley
    David Crossley subscriber

    @David Benz @David Crossley  --That's what they say, but convention centers are over-built all over the country.  The main convention they are worried about is ComicCon.  Spending hundreds of millions of dollars for basically one convention is just dumb.

    David Benz
    David Benz subscriber

    @David Crossley @David Benz It would be just as dumb to spend $10s of millions on the CC's deferred maintenance when we will lose convention business.

    I looked at the CC's financial reports for the last 6 years and San Diego has a combined operating loss EBITDA of $(10,420,100) when the city's annual contribution is excluded from revenues and depreciation is excluded from expenses.  The CC has $12.6 million of outstanding debt.

    Maybe the city of San Diego needs to get out of the convention center business and the stadium business.

    Matty Azure
    Matty Azure subscriber

    "Meet the new boss,

    Same as the old boss."

    I predict they'll fool us again.


    "Who" dat?

    David Benz
    David Benz subscriber

    @Matty Azure Hopefully Inglewood's "City of Champions" project will take the Chargers off our hands.

    goudaray subscriber

    It makes no sense that the Chargers want to stay in San Diego.  They can't even sell out a Monday Night game.  The Chargers say that 20-30 % of their fan base is in Orange and L A counties, and they can kiss most of that goodbye if another team moves to L A.  The Chargers are just going through the motions to appease the NFL gods.  Take a look at how Glendale, AZ is benefiting from the Super Bowl, awash in red ink.  Stop spending tax payer funds trying to keep the NFL in San Diego.

    Rick Smith
    Rick Smith subscriber

    It is hard to imagine a plan developed behind closed doors will pass muster with 2/3 of the voters.  I know what my minimum requirements are for a yes vote, and this is already a fail on step one. 

    Mike subscriber

    Roger Goodell, during his pre-super bowl presser, just had the balls to say he wants to see a tangible plan from San Diego sooner and that building this new stadium is a "shared responsibility." Who the F does he think he is? The Emperor of San Diego? Where was his shared responsibility when the NFL tried to cover up the concussion research? Where are these shared responsibilities when he only gave the Chargers a $200M loan for the stadium? Goodell and Spanos want to cheap out so the city can pay for the stadium...very responsible.

    By the way, I'm the owner of a McDonalds franchise in a hip part of town. I have a few die-hard patrons and I consider myself a valuable part of this hipster city. Next week, I will submit my formal request to the city for $300M to help me build a shiny new building in North Park. What!?! That's ridiculous? Why not?

    Mark Giffin
    Mark Giffin subscribermember


    The arrogance is stunning.

    I say we punt. There is no way a package gets put together with out public monies or public assets being sold.

    Like I said before this city has a credibility/trust problem. The NFL at least are transparent snakes in the grass

    Robert Cohen
    Robert Cohen subscriber

    Whether the task force meets in private or public (which is what they really should be doing) the end result seems meaningless.  The two answers the mayor wants is where the stadium should be and how to finance it that is fair to the taxpayers.  Well, they might as well skip talking about Mission Valley because the Chargers have been clear that they do not want to renovate Qualcomm or build a new one next to it.  In fact, the what, where and how of building a new stadium are no longer negotiable points considering how vocal the Chargers have been of late about what they want.  First, they want a stadium located downtown and they want it connected to a noncontiguous expanded convention center.  Why? Because they also want a portion of the tourist occupancy tax to pay for it, and they feel they can only get a positive vote on it if the two projects are combined.  Second, they want the city to sell the Qualcomm and Sports Arena sites  to raise more money, which also requires a vote.  (Gee, just when we got a hockey team). Third, they want the city to redirect the $15 or so million  that is currently being paid on Qualcomm to be used on the new stadium.  Fourth, the Chargers will put in $200 million, (most likely paid for by geting a naming rights deal and through other sponsorships, and fifth, the NFL will loan another $200 million.

    These are non-negotiable points.  What we have here is a "take it or leave it" demand.  No task force is going to change that.  Maybe they will give the mayor cover if the team moves when he can say he did all he could to keep them here.  But if the above mentioned points are not accepted by the city then it's bye bye Chargers.

    Bob Stein
    Bob Stein subscriber

    @Robert Cohen Some comments on your comment…

    “where the stadium should be”: Look no further than the place they chose for the press announcement.  They chose the East Village.  They could have chosen Qualcomm, the Mayor’s Chambers, the plaza in front of City Hall.  They didn’t. 

    “finance[ing]…that is fair to the taxpayers”: The “fairer” the deal, (presumably) the more people willing to vote yes versus no.  I haven’t a clue where the plot lines cross, but I’d guess it will still be very easy to get 34% of people to say no to any form of public financing.  Why? Because there is a deep reservoir of negative perceptions and distrust among San Diegans of their fat cats, political shills and real estate developers.  Opponents will mine this sentiment for all it’s worth.

    “they can only get a positive vote on it if the two projects are combined”: Any form of a “convadium” has the advantage of drawing potential yes votes from the tens of thousands San Diegans who work in the tourism and hospitality industry, not to mention campaign money from their unions.  But any product the stadium proponents create must appeal to a wider and greater number of voters than just football fans. There are simply not enough fans in San Diego to put a freestanding stadium over the top. 

    “just when we got a hockey team”: Interesting observation worth investigating.  The Ducks must have made an assessment of the how long the Sports Arena will be around, or costs associated with its demise.  Their confidence in their future in SD reflects something they know about any future football stadium involving the Arena.

    “most likely paid for by getting a naming rights deal”: The people build the stadium. Spanos owns the naming rights.  Feudalism circa 2015.

    “the Chargers will put in $200 million…the NFL will loan another $200 million”: No one writes about who is on the hook for paying back these loans or their total cost.  The cheerleaders at the UT dodge the issue.  That means the people must be on the hook for the dough.  Some honest journalist needs to unscramble these two rotten eggs.

    Robert Cohen
    Robert Cohen subscriber

    @Arizona Bread @Robert Cohen Thanks for taking the time to reply.  I'll add a couple of comments to yours:

    1) Regarding financing.  As a general rule you can count on 30% of voters to vote "no" on just about anything.  If this plan goes to the ballot you an avalanche of advertising both paid and free from the Chargers and local business interests.  The TV and radio stations will be on board.  And opponents will be villified ans obstructionists, small-town minds, and other pleasantries.  The campaign financing will be dominated by the "yes" side.  But unlike Petco Park that needed 50% +1 to gain approval, the Charger plan will have a much higher hurdle, unless the task force finds some way around the 2/3rds requirement.

    2)  At to the Ducks interest in SD, I heard a radio inteview during the summer with Ernie Hahn who manages the arena from it's owner AEG.  He said he had not heard from the Chargers or the city about the arena property.  Apparently there is 6 more years on the lease and the current operators put in a lot of money to update the lower bowl area, and for other parts of the arena. Didn't sound like they were going anywhere else in the near future.  But what struck me as that Hahn did not hear from the Chargers or the city as of a few months ago.  Whether that has changed, I don't know.   But for all the talk of selling the property you would think that either the city or the Chargers would have said or asked him about it.  

    3)  The NFL loan.  I'm not positive about this but my understanding the loan is paid back by ticket buyers, namely people in the club seats.  I don't believe the taxpayers are on the hook for that debt.  However, as with a lot of things and to quote the comedian Dennis Miller after he would go on about a subject, "That's my rant, but I could be wrong."

    Bob Stein
    Bob Stein subscriber

    @Robert Cohen @Arizona Bread

    I agree with your assessment concerning the local media and anticipated campaign spending.  But I have great faith in how the independence and contrariness of everyday San Diegans will lead them to do the right thing, should the opportunity present itself.

    Furthermore, consider that any “no” campaign has significant built-in advantages.  Most obvious, it is significantly harder to get 67% of voters to say yes, than to get 34% of voters to say no, especially in reactionary San Diego, where the default position is always no. 

    In fact, if I can stretch what Erik Bruvold from National University posted the other day regarding the 2004 Transnet tax vote, it may be impossible for 67% to say yes regardless of how much money is spent to get voters to say yes.

    Even more poignantly, if what you and others say is right, and 30% of voters will say no to just about anything, than the “no” side need only attract an additional 4% of voters to scuttle the vote, (while the “yes” side needs to find double digit numbers of voters beyond its base).

    I’m no professional political operative, but it doesn’t seem all that hard to get 4% of voters to say “no” given the fertile ground that exists in SD from which one can build anti-tax, anti-developer, anti-rich guy campaign arguments.  

    What this adds up to for me is that any “vote yes” campaign has to play a highly aggressive and broad-based offensive game whose messages will intuitively run counter to the prevailing beliefs of most voters, while any “vote no” campaign can play a highly incisive defensive game highlighting messages that simply promote what most San Diegans already believe. 

    Of course, this doesn’t factor in how the “yes” side will lie and cheat and word a ballot measure in a way that ensures voters haven’t a clue what they’re voting for -- and these guys certainly have the motive and power to do it -- but it does say that given a fair fight, it will be far easier (and cheaper) to mobilize a “no” vote than a “yes” vote, given the history of this town.

    ps: Thank you David Benz for the loan info.

    David Cohen
    David Cohen subscriber

    It would make the task (force) more efficient if they started with the assumption that no proposal to use public funds or in lieu property will get the needed 2/3 vote, and that any effort to obtain that support without a vote would tie this up in Court for years.