Less professional football means more money for the city of San Diego, the city’s stadium manager said earlier this month.

Should the labor dispute between NFL owners and players postpone or cancel any of the upcoming football season, the city actually will save money. The city currently loses money in hosting Chargers games at Qualcomm Stadium, despite the team’s rent and any concession or parking revenues. Stadium Manager Mike McSweeney said at a stadium advisory board meeting earlier this month that the city would “lose less” in the event of a lockout.

McSweeney’s answer resolves a question that has been lingering since the NFL lockout began. The city owns the stadium and must pay for operations and maintenance of the stadium for its events including Chargers games. McSweeney added that the city has additional costs on game days, such as heightened police staffing. The city’s contract with the Chargers doesn’t recoup those costs so its bottom line is better off without the games, McSweeney said.

“All told it’s an upside down deal for the city and I don’t think that’s a secret to anybody,” McSweeney said at the meeting.

Still, it’s not as if a prolonged work stoppage or the prospect of Chargers leaving town resolves the city’s problems at Qualcomm. If the team leaves immediately, the city still is projected to lose more than $11 million a year operating the stadium through 2020.

We’ve reported extensively on the Chargers deal with the city, and why the city makes out poorly. Besides losing money operating the stadium the city has owed the Chargers more than the team pays in rent, in some years.

Team special counsel Mark Fabiani said he couldn’t confirm McSweeney’s statement because he didn’t have access to the city’s figures.

“But the general point is the same one that we have been making for years now in our argument for a new stadium: The costs for taxpayers of maintaining an aging Qualcomm stadium will continue to increase, and there are better options for taxpayers for use of the 166 Qualcomm acres,” Fabiani said via email.

Here’s the relevant exchange at the meeting between board member Ben Clay and McSweeney:

Clay: Mike, for those of us that aren’t very familiar with the Charger contract other than what you hear. There’s a lockout. What’s that do to our revenues? Right off the top. Or does it enhance since we don’t have the expenses that go with it? What’s the flavor of this?

McSweeney: The latter portion … We lose less.

Clay: We lose less, well isn’t that interesting.

McSweeney: We lose in the vicinity of $1 million a year doing Charger football. We retain no revenues.

Please contact Liam Dillon directly at liam.dillon@voiceofsandiego.org or 619.550.5663 and follow him on Twitter: twitter.com/dillonliam.

    This article relates to: Chargers Stadium, Government, News
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    Written by Liam Dillon

    Liam Dillon is senior reporter and assistant editor for Voice of San Diego. He leads VOSD’s investigations and writes about how regular people interact with local government. What should he write about next? Please contact him directly at liam.dillon@voiceofsandiego.org or 619.550.5663.

    36 comments
    Judith Swink
    Judith Swink subscriber

    My perspective is that this is $1 million dollars (and more) that could be used to reduce cuts to public safety, library and park/recreation services instead of subsidizing a sports team and the specific businesses which benefit from football events in San Diego.

    LibraryLover
    LibraryLover

    My perspective is that this is $1 million dollars (and more) that could be used to reduce cuts to public safety, library and park/recreation services instead of subsidizing a sports team and the specific businesses which benefit from football events in San Diego.

    Bob Jones
    Bob Jones subscriber

    If the stadium was a hot dog stand it would have been closed down years ago.

    rwj5125
    rwj5125

    If the stadium was a hot dog stand it would have been closed down years ago.

    John Pilch
    John Pilch subscriber

    San Diego will not have another Super bowl until the Spanos Family agrees to it. The NFL loves being here, comments from Tagliabue notwithstanding. With respect to revenue, please know that all the parking revenue goes to the Chargers and the City has to maintain the parking lot, thanks to agreements by Deputy City Managers who were cozy with the Spanos Family. In addition, the City must reimburse the Chargers $20 for each vehicle displaying a disabled placard - about $20K per game. Think the Spanos Family cares about the City or these expenses? Think again.

    John in SC
    John in SC

    San Diego will not have another Super bowl until the Spanos Family agrees to it. The NFL loves being here, comments from Tagliabue notwithstanding. With respect to revenue, please know that all the parking revenue goes to the Chargers and the City has to maintain the parking lot, thanks to agreements by Deputy City Managers who were cozy with the Spanos Family. In addition, the City must reimburse the Chargers $20 for each vehicle displaying a disabled placard - about $20K per game. Think the Spanos Family cares about the City or these expenses? Think again.

    Bob Jones
    Bob Jones subscriber

    The politicians who are enamored with the NFL happily sign their contracts, but will not be around when the Bandini hits the fan. Nope, their political path will be well established via the rich boys network and will be in Sacremento or Washington in their new jobs.

    rwj5125
    rwj5125

    The politicians who are enamored with the NFL happily sign their contracts, but will not be around when the Bandini hits the fan. Nope, their political path will be well established via the rich boys network and will be in Sacremento or Washington in their new jobs.

    bob gomez
    bob gomez subscriber

    And by the way I'm FOURTH generation San Diego, your little smear against people who move here means nothing. You just don't have anything else.

    cordedpoodle
    cordedpoodle

    And by the way I'm FOURTH generation San Diego, your little smear against people who move here means nothing. You just don't have anything else.

    Ryan Bray
    Ryan Bray subscriber

    OK I'm done getting teed off with this website. From the comments, its obvious the majority of its readers are all aboard with this style of polticized reporting. It would be nice if there was a more reputable source for local news in SD... But I guess that is just too much to ask from idealistic transplants who are unwilling to consider the facts, history, or passion that was here before them and will be here after they leave.

    sdguero
    sdguero

    OK I'm done getting teed off with this website. From the comments, its obvious the majority of its readers are all aboard with this style of polticized reporting. It would be nice if there was a more reputable source for local news in SD... But I guess that is just too much to ask from idealistic transplants who are unwilling to consider the facts, history, or passion that was here before them and will be here after they leave.

    joseph olivas
    joseph olivas subscriber

    It appears that any sports stadium, Qualcom, Petco, and any new stadium we build for the Spanos family will provide a net loss for the taxpayers in San Diego. That does not seem to matter because San Diegans love sports and will sustain any loss in city services in order to have our stadiums, and our losing teams.

    josepho858
    josepho858

    It appears that any sports stadium, Qualcom, Petco, and any new stadium we build for the Spanos family will provide a net loss for the taxpayers in San Diego. That does not seem to matter because San Diegans love sports and will sustain any loss in city services in order to have our stadiums, and our losing teams.

    Gerald Hosenkamp
    Gerald Hosenkamp subscriber

    Gosh, if we can lose this much with an old stadium with or without NFL games, then how can the taxpayers not vote to build a new stadium? Then our "world class" city can have the "world class" losses it deserves. Wouldn't want to be second rate!

    GBH1
    GBH1

    Gosh, if we can lose this much with an old stadium with or without NFL games, then how can the taxpayers not vote to build a new stadium? Then our "world class" city can have the "world class" losses it deserves. Wouldn't want to be second rate!

    Bill Bradshaw
    Bill Bradshaw subscribermember

    As for all those quality jobs like, e.g., linebacker, tight end and special teams coach, I'd rather focus on an industry that provides lots of well paying jobs without mammoth public subsidy. How about we focus on supporting our ship building industry?

    toulon
    toulon

    As for all those quality jobs like, e.g., linebacker, tight end and special teams coach, I'd rather focus on an industry that provides lots of well paying jobs without mammoth public subsidy. How about we focus on supporting our ship building industry?

    robert lopo
    robert lopo subscriber

    A further note, for $350 million tax revenue, each of the 70,000 attendants at the game would have to spend $50,000 during the event.

    ibphotos
    ibphotos

    A further note, for $350 million tax revenue, each of the 70,000 attendants at the game would have to spend $50,000 during the event.

    David Malcolm
    David Malcolm subscriber

    Liam you are much smarter than this story. This is the way City Hall thinks. What do you think losing a $100,000,000.00 plus payroll does to the City, State and Fed income tax, sales tax etc? What about the jobs...people who sell tickets, take money for parking, sale a beer, grounds keepers, advertising, etc etc. etc. I don't have Charger tickets but to keep those jobs in San Diego and all the related jobs (coaching, support staff etc) is good for San Diego because they are high paying jobs. Does anyone care about high paying jobs? or only jobs changing sheets that the new nearly 1 billion convention center will provide (built with taxpayer money I might add)? All jobs are important, so if I have a choice of creating a job changing a sheet or a lot of high paying jobs I know which one I would choose for San Diego.

    dmalcolm
    dmalcolm

    Liam you are much smarter than this story. This is the way City Hall thinks. What do you think losing a $100,000,000.00 plus payroll does to the City, State and Fed income tax, sales tax etc? What about the jobs...people who sell tickets, take money for parking, sale a beer, grounds keepers, advertising, etc etc. etc. I don't have Charger tickets but to keep those jobs in San Diego and all the related jobs (coaching, support staff etc) is good for San Diego because they are high paying jobs. Does anyone care about high paying jobs? or only jobs changing sheets that the new nearly 1 billion convention center will provide (built with taxpayer money I might add)? All jobs are important, so if I have a choice of creating a job changing a sheet or a lot of high paying jobs I know which one I would choose for San Diego.

    bob gomez
    bob gomez subscriber

    Ridiculous corrupt city.

    Charles Rickman
    Charles Rickman subscribermember

    Thanks for setting the truth straight!

    tellmewhy
    tellmewhy

    Thanks for setting the truth straight!

    Bob Jones
    Bob Jones subscriber

    We all love sports, but economic survival comes first, not the wishes of the NFL and its mega-millionare private club members.

    rwj5125
    rwj5125

    We all love sports, but economic survival comes first, not the wishes of the NFL and its mega-millionare private club members.

    Brandon Fox
    Brandon Fox subscriber

    sdguero.....you took the words right out of my mouth. Not only is money being made on direct spending through hotels, dining, etc. by visiting fans but the city gets a lot of free national exposure everytime they show the postcard shots of the city of san diego they love to show during chargers broadcasts . Not sure if the writer is really that ignorant or they chose just to look away from the facts because they didn't paint the picture in the light they wanted. Either way it's bad reporting.

    ucsbrandon
    ucsbrandon

    sdguero.....you took the words right out of my mouth. Not only is money being made on direct spending through hotels, dining, etc. by visiting fans but the city gets a lot of free national exposure everytime they show the postcard shots of the city of san diego they love to show during chargers broadcasts . Not sure if the writer is really that ignorant or they chose just to look away from the facts because they didn't paint the picture in the light they wanted. Either way it's bad reporting.

    bob gomez
    bob gomez subscriber

    Why is San Diego in the sports business? If it makes sense to be in the sports business shouldn't they be in the concert business too? Punk rock concerts. Heavy metal. Death metal. Shouldn't San Diego subsidize all entertainment? Why just sports? How stupid can San Diego voters get.

    cordedpoodle
    cordedpoodle

    Why is San Diego in the sports business? If it makes sense to be in the sports business shouldn't they be in the concert business too? Punk rock concerts. Heavy metal. Death metal. Shouldn't San Diego subsidize all entertainment? Why just sports? How stupid can San Diego voters get.

    Ryan Bray
    Ryan Bray subscriber

    I used to contriibute to VOSD back in 2006/2007. After re-reading this mess of an article, I regret ever having supported the site.

    sdguero
    sdguero

    I used to contriibute to VOSD back in 2006/2007. After re-reading this mess of an article, I regret ever having supported the site.


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