Not long after the Chargers announced that they would try to work out a deal in San Diego and hold off on a move to Los Angeles, the team met with San Diego County Supervisor Ron Roberts and Mayor Kevin Faulconer.
The meeting was at Chargers headquarters on Murphy Canyon Road. Anticipating actual negotiations for the first time in months, the city and county flew in their full cadre of consultants for the gathering.
That turned out not to be necessary. The meeting did not go well.
“It was like a cold glass of water being dumped on everything,” Roberts told me in an interview.
At the meeting, the Chargers told Roberts and Faulconer that if they wanted to keep talking about a new stadium in Mission Valley, the $350 million in public funds the two politicians were prepared to put up was not enough.
They would have to support an additional $200 million from a tax hike on hotel rooms or another tourist-based revenue source, like car rental fees.
We Stand Up for You. Will You Stand Up for Us?
The comments or Richard Rider below have added another spin to the convadium conversation but I would like to suggest that the main reason the Spanos effort would fail is because it falls within a detectable and predictable pattern of his behavior(known to those observing him).
Back in 2008, the then Attorney General Jerry Brown (and now governor of California) descended on the City of Stockton accusing it of inducing urban sprawl with the Spanos real estate holdings in dead center. Spanos' immediate reaction was to gather signatures for a ballot initiative geared for the November 2008 election(year of Obama's 1st win in the presidential election).
Just like then and now Spanos spent about $2 Mil. to gather the required signatures but sensing the impending Democratic Party victory in the general elections (plus an infuriated Stockton city and some other locals whom he rubbed the wrong way) he never put on the ballot the initiative which would have bestowed him w/ entitlements to approx. 2000 acres of land (which lands to date remain frozen in time - both un-entitled and fiercely opposed by the local community).
I guess that the same will happen with this initiative. Spanos will spend $5 Mil. to gather the votes but then he will assess the national election climate/mood and decide not to participate for this November. The political confluence is horrible for Spanos this year and his favorite play is always to ride the tails of strong Republican winds. This year, as we all know, the GOP is in a terrible shape; deeply fragmented, divided and without a credible candidate to contest the national elections in November. Hillary is not a strong candidate either but given the anarchy of the GOP she smells like a rose.
So if I know the Spanos playbook (based on precedent) there will be no Spanos convadium initiative this November. There might be a Citizens Initiative (which is also terrible and as confusing as hell) to which Spanos may want to attach a future claim.
As far as Spanos licking his wounds he will continue to claim that he has been searching for a stadium for more than 15 years and has spent a total of $30 Mil. in such quest - oh, the poor baby...as if insisting on nonsense for a very long time transforms the nonsense into a logical objective.
I would urge the readers to act as strategists and examine the Spanos' options. IMHO he has none; he will continue to stay in SD for years because he pays almost zero rent at the Q and his team is very profitable here (last year he made a net $65 Mil.).
San Diego pro teams have a long, colorful history as "America's Finest Losers." No significant city has won fewer major league titles (1).
Five reasons we fare so poorly:
1. Very small number of people in our region compared to our competitors.
2. As a "branch office" city, we lack the corporate HQ's found in most other major league cities, resulting in a lot fewer skybox rentals.
3. San Diegans on average are poor pro sports team fans. Many don't care about "American" sports, and many more have divided loyalties with other teams around the nation.
4. Lousy city for pro stars to get endorsement contracts -- compared to, say, SF and LA.
5. Sky-high CA state income tax (34% higher than the 2nd highest state) makes recruiting top talent to San Diego very difficult.
For more details, check out my article on this:
@Richard Rider The market isn't the problem for the Chargers it's the ownership.
@Richard Rider Richard no doubt about the city's professional sports curse. However I'm surprised you have nothing to say about a 60% tax increase on hotel rooms to pay for this new tax payer funded subsidy to the Spanos family. I thought you were not so keen on huge tax increases. I get the feeling most of those who argue against tax increases seem to highly favor them when their particular special interest benefits from them. Certainly you can make a better argument against the Spanos Plan other than to bring up the San Diego pro sports team curse.
Maybe we can put forth some tax payer money to hire someone like the Mission Hills Witch to finally remove that curse? It should make about as much sense as the Spanos Plan don't you think? That money could be raised by putting a tax on witchcraft. Wait a minute it might have the reverse effect. Never mind.
@Richard Rider None of your 5 excuses have any impact on the Chargers' inability to win because of the NFL's revenue sharing and hard salary cap. The Spanoses are just bad owners. They are relevant to the Padres but not the Chargers.
@Ben Adams @Richard Rider Ben maybe there is more to this sports curse than the press has given credit. Gee the 1994 Chargers lost 8 players to untimely deaths so far. That's what happens when a cursed team gets in to the championships? One player even died from lightening strikes? Maybe instead of a 60% TOT tax increase to fund the Spanos family's thirst for greed, we do need to look into spending that money on a plan to remove this curse? The statistics to these untimely deaths occurring to basically young men who should be in their physical prime would drive life insurance actuary into sudden madness. Certainly the city should invest heavily in this study and cure before dropping $1.8 billion on a new playground for the rich, famous and now cursed?
@Phillip Franklin Taking out a hit on the entire Spanos family is the only investment that might turn the Chargers into winners.
The Cowboys wouldn't suck so bad if Richard's claims were true. They lead the NFL in revenue and have no state income tax but they still suck every season. We don't need to make excuses for bad owners like Spanos or Jerruh. The lack of state income tax hasn't made the Dolphins, Bucs, Jags, or Texans into winners. The NFL's revenue sharing, salary cap and 90% salary floor have leveled the playing field. NFL owners can't simply buy a winner like in baseball and free agency isn't really free because teams have to fit a player into the existing complicated salary structure.
@Phillip Franklin @Richard Rider My piece was not about the Charger subsidies (which I have vigorously opposed) or tax increases which I vigorously oppose, and have for 30+ years. It was about why, no matter what we do, odds are that San Diego will not be a winning town when it comes to pro sports.
Not to worry -- I'll be quite clear in my opposition to raising the SD city hotel tax to among the highest in the nation. Odd that you would think otherwise.
To be specific -- San Diego doesn't have a "sports curse." That's bizarre thinking that too often rots sports fans' minds.
We are the wrong market for pro teams. Period.
@Ben Adams @Richard Rider While we share TV revenue, we don't make NEARLY as much on sky boxes as do the other NFL teams -- and that's not revenue that's shared. Ticket sales are partially shared with an NFL visiting team (30% I think is the current figure), but we don't do a good job filling other stadiums in our away games.
As for the "salary cap," there's lots of ways to bypass that restriction. Incentive pay and deferred comp are two. And even if we all have the same salary cap, we end up with paying less to our San Diego players after taxes than all other states.
by Richard Rider (2014)
Want to predict the winner of the NBA finals with better than a 91% accuracy? Here's your cheat sheet. Bet on teams that are either:
1. Domiciled in one of the three major markets -- NYC, Chicago, or L.A. -- which provides the team a bigger war chest -- and offers more lucrative endorsement deals.
2. Located in an income tax free state.
There are 30 NBA teams. 12 fit one of the mutually exclusive categories above. Hence the numerical probably that one of these 12 teams will win the championship in any year is about 40%. As it turns out, they win 91% of the time. Here's a historical list of the NBA finalists and the champion, year by year:
Actually the article is outdated. Since being written in the spring of this year, another NBA finals has come and gone. The two teams in the finals were from tax-free states -- again. Hence the historical probability now exceeds 92%.
@Ben Adams @Phillip Franklin Gee, have the Cowboys been to the Super Bowl? How many times?
Yes, lousy in recent years, but the Cowboys do have winning seasons. They've been to the Super Bowl a number of times, and their 5 Super Bowl wins are second only to Pittsburgh. The Chargers have made ONE Super Bowl appearance, and SF kicked our butts.
Miami? Five Super Bowl appearances, winning 2. Jags and Bucs too young to count, and small market teams to boot.
@Richard Rider You are wrong Richard, the NFL's cap is a hard cap. You are making stuff up and it's clear you have a very elementary understanding of the NFL. Comparing the NFL to MLB or the NBA is very stupid.
@Richard Rider Nice strawman Rich. The NFL is not the NBA.
@Richard Rider Did you not just incorrectly argue about the Cowboys and Dolphins?
You are wrong now act like an adult and admit it. Rich you are a typical pompous fool.
PS I am not a Chargers fan and hope they leave San Diego.
@Richard Rider You clearly don't know anything about the NFL and you should inform yourself before acting like a pompous idiot.
The current Salary Cap rules didn't exist when the Cowboys won their Super Bowls. There was no cap at all before 1994 and the original cap rules were not nearly as strict as the current rules. Miami's success was also before the cap
You have an economic theory that doesn't fit the real world and you are too obtuse to realize you are wrong.
@Ben Adams @Richard Rider See if you understand this. Our "salary cap" is the lowest in the nation. That's because the NET payment a San Diego (and indeed California) player gets is lower than the same salary paid by any other team in the other 49 states. Our 13.3% tax rate is 34% higher than the 2nd highest state (Oregon), and infinitely higher than Texas, Florida, Washington and Tennessee teams --- states that have no tax on salaries, bonuses, etc.
@Richard Rider Another pathetic strawman, you are wrong Rich deal with it. Tell me again about the NFL salary cap that didn't exist when the Dolphins and Cowboys were winning Super Bowls.
You don't know the facts and don't care to learn anything that doesn't fit your naive assumptions. Have at it Rich your willful ignorance is just sad and your pompous act is tired. You'd fit in perfectly on Foxnews.
@Richard Rider @Ben Adams You are certainly correct about the sport market limitations here in SD, however Spanos knew all this when he purchased the team and the price he paid reflected it. On his part it's certainly an absurd argument to suggest that large public subsidies would cure the inherent sport market deficiencies . After an initial pop in valuation his team value eventually would deflate to the lowest 1/3rd of the NFL valuation table. This is the law of nature and new stadium of not Spanos can not defy gravity. Twenty years from now he would be in the approximate same position (value wise) his team currently is (not to mention that after 20 years he would be starting again on his quest for another new stadium because the one he just got is now obsolete).
@Richard Rider @Phillip Franklin Well yes San Diego is like I said thousand of times before is an economy primarily based upon two things ... the military and tourism. The military personnel are by nature not huge local sports team fans since they are fans of the teams they grew up watching. Plus as a rule they don't have the discretionary income of say a corporate middle management or executive. NFL football tickets are quite expensive to say the least. As you and others have said those luxury boxes are extremely expensive and usually are supported by top corporate type management of fortune 50 type companies and the people of major Wall Street financial companies who have money to burn.
San Diego's tourism economy is even much worse for employees than even the military. Minimum wage service industry workers such as the people who work at the stadium and the hotel/restaurant industry which make up a huge part of our economy could not even dream of affording to go to a game at Qualcomm much less pay well over $150 per ticket at the new proposed stadium. It would cost them nearly a month's pay check to take their family to such an event. Plus they probably couldn't go anyway since so many of them are too busy working multiple jobs to get by here.
That's why the new Levi's Stadium was moved to Santa Clara further away from the urban area of San Francisco. You see the Silicon Valley execs and highly paid engineers and venture capitalists from the valley are their key demographic who have no problem spending a few thousand dollars every week during the season to take their family to watch the 49'ers. That is why they sold out of those seat licenses relatively easily. Those seat licenses cost more than a new car. You see that is why you don't see too many luxury car dealerships or Whole Foods Markets in run down neighborhoods in the east San Diego. Amazing isn't it.
But Dean Spanos doesn't care. He wants the tax payers of San Diego to make up that difference whether they can personally go see the game or not. You see he simply doesn't give a damn about anyone but his own greedy interests. And the local media including the local TV stations and the Union Tribune newspaper are cheering him on. And that is how this city has operated for years and will continue to do so until we can educate the voter base which has so far been nearly impossible.
@Dean Plassaras I am against the initiative but I'm also against uninformed dogma. Free market economic theories do not apply to the NFL. Almost half of any NFL team's roster is made up of drafted players on their first contract who have no choice where they play. Then there's the undrafted players who sign with any team that will give them a shot. The Texans didn't get a discount on Brock Osweiler and he didn't choose to sign with them to avoid state income taxes. The Texans were the only team dumb enough to give him $72 million over 4 years with $37 million guaranteed for an unproven QB. It happens every year some bad team overpays.
NFL franchises win by drafting good players and filling holes smartly. The blockbuster FA's are usually busts. Rich's comments about the Cowboys and Dolphins prove he doesn't know anything about the NFL
MLB is a different story because there is a huge disparity in team revenues and payrolls. MLB teams have their own local TV deals and there's no salary cap. The largest payroll is 4 times the smallest. Makes it tough to compete. http://www.spotrac.com/mlb/payroll/
@Dean Plassaras The San Diego market does impact the Chargers franchise value but it has no impact on their ability to win. The Chargers spend right up to the cap but they suck at drafting the right players. Every NFL team makes huge profits, the market specific revenues are the difference between the Cowboys making $270 million and the Chargers making $65 million but the payrolls are pretty much the same. Revenue sharing and the salary cap levels the financial playing field. Teams have to draft and sign the right players and the market size doesn't make any difference. Crappy owners like Spanos and Jerruh field crappy teams. Dean's kids aren't going to do any better.
@Ben Adams @Dean Plassaras Sure there are many unique things about the NFL but let's separate the players who are unionized members and the NFL which is a monopoly. What I think is the most unique thing about the NFL is that it is a byproduct of a players union. I personally have great empathy for the players but not the owners.
@Ben Adams @Dean Plassaras True. The Spanoses don't run the Chargers with an eye or a culture towards winning. Winning to them equals maximizing operating revenue which in turn means running a mediocre team. Running a championship football team requires a completely different mind set and a different size wallet both of which Spanos does not have. I believe we agree on this one.
Thankfully I'm not a resident of San Diego, but I do live in the county and hate to see more taxes (potentially) piled on top of existing taxes. I'd rather see Irwin Jacobs, or Rady, or some other truly civic-minded billionaire get $300 million from the city to employ more engineers, doctors, nurses, or whatever.
Or the city could take that $300 million and spend it on tourism advertising and incentives to get Hollywood to film movies down here. $300 million at 5% per year is $15 million a year and you keep your principal!
Happy travels, Mr. Spanos.
I understand the fact that Scott Lewis is trying to stay as neutral as he can in reporting the issue of the horrible Spanos plan. I like his approach of just the facts, ma'm. But it doesn't take a PhD in psychology to read between the lines here. Basically from these facts we are just becoming more aware than ever before (if that is possible) that Spanos and his merry band of sleaze politicos are nothing more than just a bunch of greedy old men. I guess when you can report the facts like this, one doesn't need to editorialize. That Mr. Lewis leaves for the readers right here.
It's almost comical that Spanos has all along wanted to get his greedy little hands on that so called 'pot-of-gold' ... the TOT. As the long time number one card carrying California Republican party contributor Mr. Spanos seeks to raise a local tax by a whopping 60% when it benefits his own special interests. Basically hysterical one might say. But at the same time scary in that he is doing so in order to convince the slack-jawed yokels that this new tax will give them a shiny new stadium for absolutely free or as the local self-interested greedy media states "it won't cost the taxpayer one thin dime". However in their out right greed they purposely fail to mention that if these new TOT taxes don't generate a minimum of $100 million in new tax revenue every single year for the next 20 or 30 years (come hell or high water) above what is already being collected, the tax payers of this city will be on the hook for the remainder for these millions for next 20 or 30 years long after the shine goes out of that fancy $1.8 billion eyesore in the East Village.
So Spanos is now just trying to fool the voters with this total BS proposal which not even his own Republican friends will not want to sign off on. Spanos makes Mr. Burns on the long running hit TV show The Simpsons look like a sweet kind generous loving old man in comparison. Well some one needs to do an animation TV show about San Diego in which Dean Spanos can be the new real Scrooge of the 21st century. As they say fact is funnier than fiction. Gee I hoped that greedy old man was moving his Chargers to LA. It also is almost comical that we can't even get rid of this blood sucking leech. If you read my comments over the last several months I told everyone he's not leaving.
The record setting start by the Padres might just be a break for the Chargers, unless you look at THEIR record during the Spanos ownership, 32 years of almost constant mediocrity on the field and constant whining about the stadium since at least 1995. If there was a way to get rid of this bunch, can't we just be done with them? This ownership is not going to change either it's performance or it's attitude.
I never thought I'd say the Raiders look pretty good to me, but that's the situation. After the Bolts get their reality check at the ballot box, maybe they'll just go away and we can court Mark Davis.
@Bill Bradshaw --Davis has even less money than Spanos, and would probably want at least as much of a handout from the city as Spanos wants.
@David Crossley @Bill Bradshaw You never know until you negotiate. Two things seem clear to me, (1) The Qualcomm site would look very good to Davis compared to his current situation, and (2) He has a promising young team with a veteran coach and a fan base that makes ours look like a high school team.
@David Crossley Why not?
The introduction to this article "How the Bolts Jolted Politicians Once Again" is the best thing in or related to the article. The Jokers Need Jolting.
NFL and Mr. Spanos the poster children for corporate welfare.
Funny how the NFL is a tax free entity!! and they pay their people millions to -what? Con millions of tax dollars out of the taxpayers?
High Time the NFL started paying it's own taxes, then maybe they might infinitesimally appreciate -tax -dollars. No more tax dollars to tax free entities!!
@Mark Smith I believe the NFL gave up their tax-exempt status in 2015. They had been getting too much bad PR about not paying taxes.
This plan as well as similar plans will fail.
Spanos has only one real option. To stay in a renovated Q paid for 100% by his and NFL's money.
The rest is all theater and various shades of hypocrisy. The move to LA is non-practical for this owner unless he wishes to become a bona fide Kroenke slave (which I can assure you he does not).
And then there are the disturbing and profound lies. Last year Spanos told us that he had to pursue Carson in LA because a competing NFL team entering LA so close to his own market meant a roughly 30% lost revenue. A year later this appears to be no problem at all as long as Spanos gets his convadium. You can see the gaping lie here and there have been many lies like this over many years in an orgy of deception and fabricated false information.
The bottom line is that Spanos is a disliked owner and he only gets to stay at a renovated Q paid for exclusively by him. All other scenaria are pure nonsense.
@Dean Plassaras --The problem with the Chargers staying in a renovated Q is that Spanos is only a tenant in a city-owned stadium. He, and the NFL, will never agree to stay in the Q while having to use their money to remodel a city facility.
@David Crossley @Dean Plassaras It shows you how you could transform a previous dump like the Sun Life stadium to a pretty cool new environment that people use for other purposes as well and having fun doing so. Furthermore this video shows you how the various components of an NFL stadium tie together.
@David Crossley @Dean Plassaras What Spanos wants or does not want is irrelevant. This is what he gets. He has no other choice but to accept it. I hope after what happened last year you still don't believe that there is an LA option. Moving to LA will financially destroy Spanos. The current SD deal is too sweet for Spanos to abandon. Where else could he go and still pay next to zero rent? This new stadium nonsense could go on for decades and Spanos would still be playing at the Q. The real question for him is this: Do you still want to be playing at an un-renovated Q for another 15 years or do you open up your wallet and get a newly renovated Q which would look and function like a modern NFL stadium?
I do agree with you that if Spanos were to move to LA, it would be disastrous for the club (at least as long as he is still the owner).
The Chargers will not be playing at the Q for another 15 years--Spanos will sell the club before that would ever happen--which really might not be such a bad thing.
@Dean Plassaras @David Crossley --No doubt the Q could be remodeled--but it would cost even more to do the same things the Dolphins did to Sun Life Stadium, and don't forget, the Dolphins already OWNED Sun Life Stadium. The Chargers could have worked with the city years ago to do this but chose not to. The game of chicken continues.
@SDResident @Dean Plassaras @David Crossley Legally or not the city is a poor asset manager and needs to get out of the stadium business. You could easily use a stadium authority to hold title like Spanos is proposing for a new stadium. The bureaucratic steps matter little; all we care about is getting the big picture right.
@Dean Plassaras @David Crossley --Sun Life Stadium was owned by the city? That would be news to Joe Robbie, who built the place. It's always been in private hands. And Spanos, or anyone else who acquires the franchise, always has the ability to move said franchise. But Spanos only wants to move to LA, and in that regard, Spanos has indeed painted himself into a corner.
@Dean Plassaras @David Crossley --Spanos has options, but currently he doesn't control any of them. He could move the franchise to LA with Kroenke (not a smart move), stay in the Q (not a long term solution), play in a new stadium downtown (not likely to be approved IMO), or move the franchise elsewhere (San Antonio is always an option, but that will face a backlash fro the other Texas owners, and Spanos really doesn't want to move there), or he could always sell the franchise.
And I'm still waiting to hear how Sun Life Stadium was originally owned by a public entity.
Regarding Spanos options he has none for the following reasons:
1. LA is only a theoretical option but not a real one. In order to move to LA Spanos needs to go heavily in debt something his family model does not allow.
2. He can't sell the team because then his kids have nothing to do in life not to mention numerous tax complications since the team is owned by 6 family members(2 elder Spanos and 2 brothers + 2 sisters).
3. He can't move to Texas because the Dallas owner will not allow encroachment into his territory.
4. His only one real option is to continue to play in SD at the Q where the rent is next to zero.
5. We all know he wants a new stadium but he is not going to get it. So the only option left is a renovated Q or a thinly maintained Q for the next 15 years or maybe forever. None of the Spanos kids want to move away from SD.
He can always sell the franchise, as there are plenty of billionaires out there. Once the Spanos family sees how much they can make on the sale, they will be all for it, and so will the NFL. Also, there are 30 owners outside of Texas that would love another franchise in the state of Texas.
@David Crossley Spanos would never sell. This is the only business he is left with.
@Dean Plassaras @David Crossley The Charger renovated Q is the City's best option. However, no one is talking about St. Louis as an option for the Chargers. That city actually approved $150 million for a new stadium for the Rams. The plan fell apart because it was short $100 million in the total funding. But, at that time (December 2015), the NFL was only interested in putting-in $200 million in the plan. If they put $300 million, as they said they would do in San Diego, the financing of the St. Louis stadium works. Why isn't Spanos pursuing St. Louis, rather than this far fetched dream of being in downtown San Diego? Actually, I hope he does pursue St. Louis, I am sick of the Chargers.
@bgetzel @Dean Plassaras @David Crossley --St Louis has already said they are done with the NFL. But the NFL was apparently done with St Louis as well, as they saw $$ in their eyes when approving the Rams move from St Louis to Inglewood, while giving both the Raiders and Chargers another $100 mil to stay in their current markets (allegedly). I don't see The League doing that for any St Louis plan. Their stadium plan also relied on Kroenke paying $200 mil, which was something he wasn't willing to do. Now, if someone were to buy the Chargers from Spanos, I would imagine anything could be on the table, including moving them to St Louis. Spanos isn't interested in that.
@David Crossley @bgetzel @Dean Plassaras Spanos' only interest is to continue freeloading on SD while complaining what an awful stadium they have notwithstanding the fact it's almost a rent free deal and last year they made $65 Million operating profit in SD. Spanos can continue this whining for decades while running a profitable business here. That's why Spanos is not moving to any place else. Because all other scenaria are risk ridden whereas his present deal in SD is risk free.
@Dean Plassaras @David Crossley @bgetzel --Or they could move to San Antonio. There is a much better facility available right now that could house them temporarily until a new facility is built (assuming the league could quiet the objections of the other 2 Texas franchise owners). Or, they could always move to Las Vegas, assuming the new stadium is ever built near the airport. They really want nothing to do with Santa Clara.
@Dean Plassaras @bgetzel @David Crossley I dpn't know anything about the market for an NFL team in St. Louis, but I do know that San Diego does not have a great history of loving its team. We often cannot fill the stadium for a game. We hold the record for single season TV blackouts, Furthermore, when we do have games at home, the stands appear to be packed more with fans of the visitors (especially if its the 49ers, Raiders, Cardinals or Seahawks) than Charger fans. With the establishment of the Rams in L.A., and the teams reprehensible behaviour during the last few years, the Chargers local fan base will errode even further. St. Louis may actually be their best alternative.
@bgetzel @Dean Plassaras @David Crossley --That is true, but many of those fans of the visiting teams already live here. The St Louis stadium plan had Kroenke and the NFL paying roughly 45% of the cost of their new stadium. I doubt that Spanos would want to move to that market, and then spend that much of his own money to build a stadium there. Then again, he may end up with no choice.