After the Carson embarrassment, when the NFL refused the Chargers’ bid to relocate to the Los Angeles suburb, many of us thought the team’s owner Dean Spanos would return to town a little more appreciative of his fans and what he has here — and willing to pay his fair share.
Instead, Spanos has fabricated a false and cynical choice for San Diegans: We must choose between the future of football and the future of downtown. No matter that Mission Valley is the ideal location and the team’s former general manager has said the NFL will never leave the lucrative San Diego market.
Our city has an unfortunate history of getting taken in these situations. The ticket guarantee, the infamous Chargers “early shopping clause” and the “Super Bowl improvements” that we are still paying for are just some examples. Do you know that you and I are being charged $500,000 just to print his initiative for the ballot?!
But let’s say you are convinced that this time it will be different. And that the Spanos lawyers who put Measure C together without any public input whatsoever somehow had our best interests in mind.
And let’s say you think gifting $1 billion to one of the most profitable businesses in the country is a good use of our tax dollars. And that you aren’t concerned that we taxpayers are ultimately on the hook for the costs.
And you are absolutely OK allowing the Chargers to abandon the stadium 10 years before it is paid off.
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@Reid Carr I believe your points to valid, I myself envision a Downtown stadium to be a vibrant structure that will be the pinnacle of the San Diego CBD, with all the increased development around the stadium, and neighbouring communities will be a hub for entertainment. When I look at the majority of individuals that are opposed to C, the vast majority are opposed to it based on the measure of Spano's character rather than how the initiative will directly affect them. I currently live in a city that has a stadium located just on the outskirts of the CBD in Brisbane Australia (it works great), with it's public transport being less adequate than San Diego's current public transport, I fail to see how this would have an adverse impact to the CBD traffic. I am in 100% agreeance with your views. Photo's that illustrate stadium hanging over the side streets, and in near proximity to local residences.
This is a compelling argument for city dwellers and fans of urban life. It points to what’s possible in an East Village without a football stadium, which sounds like it would quickly surpass Little Italy as San Diego’s premier urban (live/work/play) neighborhood.
The organic nature of the 14th Street promenade is particularly exciting.
Plus, the turn of the greenway at “El Nudillo” into Barrio Logan reopens one of downtown’s oldest neighborhoods to tourists and other strollers unaware it exists. This will likely spark a new restaurant row, perhaps successful enough to return Barrio Logan to its local significance.
Like the new High Line in Manhattan, which flows for blocks through some areas that were also once industrial, the promenade is an attraction that would enthrall tourists and residents alike. It would quickly become a new San Diego must see and will be alive everyday with street life, unlike a football stadium and its surroundings lying dark and dormant most days of the year.
Also like Manhattan’s High Line, the promenade will ignite adjacent residential and commercial development benefitting a broad swath of San Diegans. For instance, this Wall Street Journal story reports “The [High Line] has also helped transform real-estate values for apartment owners in the surrounding blocks since [it] opened… Resale values of properties already nearby rose a cumulative 10 percentage points faster than areas only a few blocks farther away.”
They call it the “halo effect” in New York.
The only halo San Diegans will see from a new downtown stadium is the one over the Spanos family bank account. Speaking of which, this recent Forbes Magazine report covered by the UT shows that just the prospect of a new stadium has increased the value of the Chargers by $700 million.
I doubt many San Diegans saw a 36% jump in their net worth this past year. The figure reveals what Spanos has to gain, and through his theft of municipal tax revenue what you have to lose.
Traffic is a football mess in Mission Valley, now the proposal is to create a bigger mess downtown on the 5, 163 & 94. Are we nuts? By the way, the Mission Valley mess does not go away it continues as an Aztec football mess. No on C No on D
The stadium isn't a big grey square, but that block is a superlative mechanism to prove your point. I would argue that your diagram of a competing plan for that footprint at the end of your op-ed would also create a visual block (though probably higher; though on the plus a bit more depth) when looking at it from the East, as well. That being said, you're concerned about it overshadowing your personal project, the library (which hit nearly as many roadblocks to build as did the stadium). I would also imagine it might have a negative impact on local architects' business if we reduce the opportunity to build 12 buildings on that footprint as opposed to the 1. We need to think bigger than that and expect that our downtown will continue to expand.
No major project is easy to push through and they all come at great expense. However, for the sake of a healthy downtown, if we train the 70,000 fans to visit our downtown via a Chargers game as they perpetually are willing to do in Mission Valley now, it makes the downtown, in entirety, a lot more attractive of a destination outside of game days. Something like can make downtown less intimidating to folks from the North and from the East who are seemingly terrified of downtown on any given Wednesday at 2.
And, yes, going to a major event always has traffic issues. However, getting in and out of downtown is far easier than getting in and out of Mission Valley during a game. Comic Con, Padres games, All-Star game... I been at and around them all and traffic is a relative breeze to even the worst attended Chargers games. What's more, the bars and restaurants are vibrant (compared to a parking lot in Mission Valley) before and after. Sunday/Monday night parking can be relatively abundant much of the time today.
Entertainment districts are more common than you suggest (~30,000 people are going to a play on Broadway in NYC on any given day) and we have to start getting more comfortable with tightening up our spaces and doing more with our downtown.
I appreciate the visuals. What a giant bomb to drop downtown and with many of the "requirements" just based on a handshake or left entirely up to Spanos to decide. And it's still not enough space for this application.
We can agree to disagree with supporters on the value of the Chargers franchise to San Diego. Their view is that anything goes as long as we keep the Chargers. I see it more as an enormous tick, wrongly placed downtown and stuffing itself with millions of dollar bills. You could put almost anything there and it would be better for downtown and for city finances than this stadium.
Thank you, Mr. Quigley. The voices of those looking out for the health and livability of our neighborhoods should be led by our mayor and city council members. But here in San Diego, they so often take the side of development interests working against our communities.
Masterful commentary Mr. Quigley! Truthful and hard-hitting.
Thank you for all your great efforts to prevent this travesty to downtown.
Interesting. I like the idea of superimposing Qualcomm over the East Village, but including the enormous parking lot is somewhat misleading as this is exactly what is not going to be happening. If you cropped the picture down to just the stadium and set up the end zones facing directly east and west on the proposed site you get a better idea of how tight of a squeeze it will be. I think the only area they have announced that they are going to use for sure is the MTS bus yard and the Padres tailgate parking lot just to the west of that. If you look at a satellite map, this is basically the area between Imperial and K stretching from Park to 16th. That is not a huge expanse of land. It's obvious that additional land will need to be purchased either to the north or south of this site to fit the stadium. To the south you have some homeless facilities, apartments and the Greyhound station, to the north it looks like something pretty large is being built on the northeast corner of 14th and K and there is at least one private business on the block of K between 14th and 15th. But...if the stadium does expand north, it will basically butt-up right against the two massive Pinnacle apartment towers-one of which is already completed on the corner of J and 15th. So, it seems likely that additional property to the south will have to be purchased by the city to make this happen. So, along with paying to move MTS, the city will also have to pay to relocate the homeless services and perhaps a Greyhound station. If not, the stadium could be built on the proposed land, but it does seem as if the seats would be comically steep...as in you would have to be strapped to a vertical wall in order to watch a game. If you have doubts, just drive down to the proposed site and imagine trying to fit Qualcomm stadium on that spot. This will also give you a good idea of how imposing of a structure it will be. It could potentially be squeezed in there, but the author here is correct that it will be an awkward fit.
We now know that Mayor Faulconer is supporting the convadium. That should come as no surprise because the mayor has shown his disregard for the neighborhoods most affected by it. Recall a few years ago the ballot proposition that sought to overturn a community plan that was agreed to by various stakeholders in Barrio Logan, which was intended to help separate residential properties from heavy industry. The Mayor led the charge against that compromise. Now he supports a plan that would, as Mr. Quigley has mentioned, cut off Barrio Logan from the rest of downtown and create traffic havoc on game days. I guess there is something about that neighborhood the mayor doesn't like. I wonder what it could be?
@Robert Cohen He's a Republican and that area of San Diego is full of liberals.
100% in agreement with the author. Keep in mind that Spanos has zero background in urban planning and/or architecture. He is a professional freeloader on the public purse.
Not to worry guys, the place is going to generate untold new business out of thin air (reminiscent of Susan Golding’s 2500 new hotel rooms which are still on order a decade after Petco Park rose from the ashes).
According to the lead editorial in the U-T today, a piece which, strangely, has a skeptical tone, the team “….argues that it’s facility would be used 300 times per year….” Of course, they have to be talking about the non-football portion of the convadium, because the team has, according to mayor Faulconer who endorsed the scheme a couple days ago, committed to “…give the city all revenue from non-NFL events….”
In other words, the team has zero incentive to promote any non-football events in the football portion of the building, which will, no doubt, require creation of a new city bureaucracy to attempt to drum up some extra business, much of which would undoubtedly come from Petco Park non-baseball events that are doing reasonably well at present.
@Bill Bradshaw Yes, Spanos' convadium wreaks of urban cannibalism.
Great op-ed! When you combine the following, its easy to see how Measure C could expand into one of the costliest mistakes made by any city in the U.S., having a net negative impact of several billion dollars:
1) Cost of bond & interest to pay for Convadium (covered by hotel tax increase plus general fund for any shortfalls) - $3.4 billion;
2) Dedication of city's most valuable public land to a zero ROI use;
3) Loss of large conventions (like Comicon) from lack of contiguous convention expansion;
4) Loss of tourism to less expensive destinations from one of the highest hotel taxes in the country
5) Loss of sales tax revenue and private sector revenue from loss of tourism and conventions;
6) Loss of property tax revenue use of site for municipal "convadium" instead of highrise developement ($265 million present value)
7) Loss of payroll tax, sales tax, and loss of high paying jobs from converting a burgeoning high-tech innovation district to a "sports and entertainment" district.
8) Cost of ancillary infrastructure improvements, e.g. increased capacity freeway ramps, road improvements, and trolley facilities;
9) Almost certain cost overruns (City is responsible for Convention annex portion) due earthquake faults, drainage, litigation, and delay.
Excellent points made by Mr. Quigley. I have always opposed the subsidy to the Spanos sports corporation on principle, but the damage that this "convadium" would do to the fabric of our downtown is more than enough reason to vote against C.