Chargers spokesman Mark Fabiani likes to say that the team has spent more than 10 years and $10 million looking for a new stadium in San Diego.

The team’s current home at Qualcomm is creaky, but its shoddy condition isn’t the main reason the Chargers want to replace it. The team wants what Qualcomm doesn’t have – amenities that could make them a lot more money.

Stadium Nuts and Bolts logoFabiani ran down some of them for me:

There’s no modern restaurant and club spaces in the stadium to allow for naming rights, signage, sponsorships and other things businesses would want to pay for.


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The stadium doesn’t have enough ways to offer fans premium services, meaning the team can’t charge as much as it could for club seats.

The stadium’s original kitchen and restrooms weren’t built to handle the fact that the stadium’s capacity has increased over the years to 70,000.

Since the stadium originally was built for baseball and football, certain sections of the stadium have bad views. “A great many of our seats are outside the goal lines, significantly reducing what customers are willing to pay for them,” Fabiani said.

In recent years, the NFL is coming to grips with the fact that fans would rather stay at home with their giant, high-definition televisions than go to the stadium. At home, you can watch several games at once, pay way less for beer and nothing for parking. At the stadium, you’re out in the sun all day.

So the league is in an arms race to make going to the stadium better than staying at home. In Atlanta, there are plans for seats that shake when someone gets tackled. In Dallas, the scoreboard is 72 feet high and 160 feet wide, the largest in the world. In Miami, the fight between the stadium and home is the most explicit. Stadium designers there are planning “living room” club seats on the 30-yard lines, filled with recliners, iPads and big-screen televisions.

The more audacious the idea, the thinking goes, the more the team can charge and the more they can make. Qualcomm has none of it.

Still, let’s not forget that the Chargers have a pretty sweet deal here. Most of the dollars fans spend on game days, from hot dogs and soda to parking, go to the team, not the city. All told, the city actually pays the Chargers to play here. The Chargers, like the rest of the teams in the NFL, just want more.

    This article relates to: Chargers Stadium, Land Use, Quest

    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.

    8 comments
    Echo5Juliet
    Echo5Juliet subscribermember

    One aspect I don't hear mentioned often is that the NFL revenue sharing agreements exempt luxury box revenue from the sharing model. Meaning a team gets to keep every dollar of luxury box ticket sales unlike the merchandise, normal seat ticket sales, TV rights/ads, etc.

    This is a big reason why teams are pushing for new stadiums with a much larger luxury box quantity and size. Its money directly in the teams (owner's) pocket.

    So a stadium project of $1.5Bn projected cost may only be $1Bn if the size and scale to accommodate a large amount of luxury boxes wasn't in the plan. Since taxpayers will be expected to foot the bill for a large portion of the stadium, the amount the taxpayers are on the hook for is directly linked to the team's ability to make more money per game. The revenue from those luxury boxes isn't going to pay the taxpayers back for their investment.

    So why should taxpayers be saddled with a larger amount of debt just so the team/owner can make the amount of per game revenue they prefer? They shouldn't. Public investment into building a new stadium is a really bad idea.

    La Playa Heritage
    La Playa Heritage subscribermember

    The Hotelier already lost he 3% Special Tax for the Convention Center Expansion costs.

    Next week may lose their private 2% TMD worth $34.6 Million this year.
    Every 1% Effective TOT or TMD Hotel Tax equals $17.18 Million in Revenue.
    There was a court hearing yesterday Friday, March 13, 2015 on a Ruling for legal standing, before the Tentative Ruling is made final.

    http://www.sandiegoreader.com/news/2015/mar/12/ticker-city-attorney-slickness-first-amendment/

    The greedy hoteliers only care about their limited private interests.
    They want to get their hands on both the Qualcomm and Midway Sports Arena for private development.
    That is probably the Secret financing plan from the citizens' taskforce. 

    Our City Charter requires a 50.1% approval Public Vote to sell contiguous public sites greater than 80 acres in size.  These sites should be redeveloped on their own for the benefit of all, instead of Taskforce members. 

    My Alternative solution for funding for a Downtown Waterfront stadium is Political opposition to the Hoteliers, Jerry Sanders' Chamber of Commerce, Convention Center Coporation, Unified Port District, SANDAG, and the 
    Airport Authority.  Mainly Republican party members lead by Mayor Kevin Faulconer who choose the winners and losers, with the public always losing for their private benefit.

    http://tinyurl.com/20150302a

    There are large coalitions that hate the greedy Hoteliers, and the actions of the Chamber of Commerce, SANDAG, and local Republican leadership.

    Chargers fans should build a coaltion with the following:

    Supporters of the Minimum Wage against the Chamber 
    Supporters of Transit First, Bikes, and Pedestrians instead of SANDAG's larger north and south county Freeways.
    Supporters of the Poor and Social Justice.
    All Political parties incuding Republicans who do not approve of the Hotelier's and Downtown crowd's historic actions.

    The Political Solution is to write several Ballot language for the benefit of the public Against the Hoteliers, SANDAG, Chamber. including the following:

    Amend the Aiport Authority Act by moving Airport/Port CEQA-level Regional projects to SANDAG, our MPO. Public Costs for a downtown waterfront multi-purpose stadium be paid for by the $1.6 BILLION in Airport Revenue Bonds that will be issued between now and 2019.  Instead of another Parking Structure in front of the new $1 Billion Terminal 2 Green Build, we can have a stadium and Contiguous Convention Center Expansion.

    That allows both Qualcomm Stadium and the Midway Sport Arena to be developed on their own using Bridge Loans from the County of San Diego to create Tax Increment.  Only for the public's benefit. This will allow the rich Kinder Morgan to actually clean up their contaminated soils including Retaining Walls in the public right of way to create Cistern Structural Foundations. 

    Amend the list of projects and Carbon Emission Reductions goals for SANDAG to Force TransNet spending for  Transit First, Neighborhood CIP Infrastructure, and Storm Water capture, instead of the planned North and South County Freeway Expansion pushed by SANDAG staff.

    Put the other planned 0.5 cent Sales Tax for SANDAG on the Ballot for Enviornmental projects and Affordable Housing. With Zero going to the Convention Center or Freeways Expansions. 

    Raise the TOT 5% with 3% for Infrasatructure, 1% Homeless, and 1% for Arts and Culture, Penny for the Arts.
    With the same up to 2.4% of the existing 10.5% TOT rate based upon matching contributions by the Hoteliers and County Board of Supervisors. Which usually amount to zero.

    The only way to win is to beat the Hoteliers at their own game.

    New winners can be the Chargers and the public.  There is not a better time to take away the downtown powerbrokers choke hold on San Diego.

    http://tinyurl.com/20091130a
    http://tinyurl.com/20110124a
    http://tinyurl.com/20110228a
    http://tinyurl.com/20111104a

    Edward Moretti
    Edward Moretti

    What I really don't understand about your article is the disconnect. "The Chargers want to make a lot more money."  Isn't that the point of every business?


    You also reason, "The stadium doesn’t have enough ways to offer fans premium services, meaning the team can’t charge as much as it could for club seats." 


    Yes, and that is the City's fault. Here's a list of what is needed from your other stadium article:

     Install new lighting, $6.1 million

     Replace all plumbing, $12.1 million

     Replace entire heating, ventilating and air-conditioning system, $11 million

     Replace scoreboard, $9.6 million (because instead of buying a new one they bought an old one from the Diamondbacks so they could scavenge it)

     Replace security cameras stadium-wide, $2.8 million


    Also from your other article, "Pieces of concrete throughout the stadium are flaking and could be dangerous if they break. Metal is rusting. And the structures needed to cushion the stadium as it settles into the ground need some adjustments. The city is patching these problems for hundreds of thousands of dollars. It’s not spending the millions it would need to permanently repair the place." 


    And therein lies the problem. The City is acting like a slumlord towards the Chargers and every other organization that uses the stadium. 


    One look at this video shows us exactly how bad the stadium is falling into disrepair...


    http://cdnapi.kaltura.com/index.php/extwidget/openGraph/wid/0_02nq72k4  

    Did you see the video of the "luxury boxes". They look like concrete jail cells. What reasonable person would want to pay good money for that in this day and age?Just like Balboa stadium before it, the Q has outlived its usefulness.


    The real disconnect is the idea that this will be a stadium only for the Chargers. They will only be in it for a maximum of 12 games a year. That leaves the stadium available for the other 355 days. A stadium in this state of disrepair simply cannot host the premium events that would turn this stadium into a moneymaker. 


    A stadium, done right, would be a landmark, a point of civic pride. A downtown stadium would have made the present development spurred by Petco seem minuscule but that dream has been washed down the drain by the City Council, hoteliers and the convention center's wishes. Now we're going to pretend that the Q just needs a face lift? Or worse yet that that a new stadium should be paid for by Personal Seat Licenses? Do that and the stadium will truly belong to the rich and to the ticket brokers.


    Sorry, you can but lipstick on a pig but it is still just a pig.


    David Benz
    David Benz subscriber

    @Edward Moretti Your post is laughable, "luxury boxes" look like concrete jail cells.  Boohoo.

    Stadiums are never a money maker for the taxpayers.  The stadium is for the Chargers and they are a private $billion business.  Get ready to commute to Carson because the welfare is over.  We are going to run the Spanos leeches out of San Diego.

    Bill Bradshaw
    Bill Bradshaw subscribermember

    @Edward Moretti  Sure, the Chargers want to make a lot more money, but they want to do it on the taxpayers dime.  That’s not exactly the way business is supposed to work.

    OK, the Q is a mess.  No argument here.  However,  your assumption seems to be that, if the taxpayers financed a new stadium the attendance would grow substantially and the number of people who call themselves “fans” would grow exponentially.  I don’t buy it.  You seem to think there is a huge amount of unspent discretionary income in the area that would flow to a new stadium that catered to fans that are currently sitting at home or at their local sports bar watching games.  Again, I don’t buy it.  The Chargers don’t either, because they aren’t eager to invest a dime they don’t have to in order to make a deal seem equitable.  They prefer to skim the revenue and let the taxpayers pick up the risk.  No surprise there. It’s the NFL.

    The one thing we BOTH know is that ticket prices would go way up, in fact I saw one estimate that the ticket price of a general admission seat would be about $100.  Good luck on that one.

    Gregory Hay
    Gregory Hay subscriber

    unmitigated greed... Screw those greedy owners!!

    Tammy Tran
    Tammy Tran subscriber

    Suggestion - Goldman Sachs gives the Chargers a line of credit of $600M to refurbish Qualcomm Stadium with all the luxury amenities for people to pay more.  The Chargers asks the City of San Diego to extend the current contract for another 40 years to allow time to amortize the debt and interest.

    Bill Bradshaw
    Bill Bradshaw subscribermember

    Fabiani’s list is very revealing of what the NFL has become, a playpen for rich fans and to hell with Joe Six-Pack.  And the Chargers solution?  More luxuries for which the team can charge ever higher prices.  For the 5-10% of San Diego residents who EVER actually attend a game we should provide a billion dollar stadium?  Count me out!