Speaking last week at the Catfish Club, City Councilman Scott Sherman responded to a question about why the city is refusing to consider a downtown joint stadium/convention center facility with this:

“I do want to look at that, but unfortunately you have to acquire the land, you have to go through the Coastal Commission, you have to go through the Port. You have Cory Briggs and other attorneys who will sue anything that goes up near the water, that’s just what it is. And you’ve got the infrastructure issues, getting in and out of downtown. … That’s why after looking at everything involved the Mission Valley site made so much sense.”

Other politicians have made remarkably similar statements.  But the problem isn’t the politicians per se. The problem is that their assumptions are all wrong.

I shared my view about the downtown option in a comment on Voice of San Diego’s website last week, even before Sherman made his comments.

The real source of the misinformation being fed to the politicians is the local hotel-industry leadership.

The hoteliers’ message is wrong in four ways:

Tailgate Park and the MTS site are already owned by public agencies.


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

The Coastal Commission has no jurisdiction off the waterfront.

The Port, likewise, has no jurisdiction off the waterfront.

My clients and other civic-minded people have two goals: They want the environmental laws followed, and they want the laws requiring voter approval of new taxes and debt followed.

The reason there is litigation on waterfront projects is because the law is not being followed. Maybe it’s bad legal advice, or maybe it’s something else. For reasons I’ll never understand, the city insists on ignoring the well-lit path in favor of exotic and novel legal approaches.

Whether it’s Sherman blaming my clients for the political decision to take downtown off the table, or the Lincoln Club accusing Mark Fabiani of somehow tricking the mayor, or Council members blaming the Convention Center board for the $14 million Fifth Avenue Landing waterfront lease debacle … all of these tortured distractions can be traced to a common source: downtown waterfront hoteliers and their entourage. And they are succeeding.

Our politicians seem to have opted for proposals that would make local residents pay, rather than making visitors pay, for the public’s share of a new stadium. They are making this choice even if it means losing the Chargers.

Why are they doing this? Hoteliers believe that every guest dollar should land in no pocket other than their own. That’s why they opposed a transient occupancy tax increase a decade ago, that’s why they’ve been fighting to take over the Convention Center and that’s why they are opposed to a joint-use facility downtown.

I have no particular interest in whether the Chargers get a new stadium or whether the Convention Center expands. But no one should blame my clients or even the Chargers for the fact that waterfront hoteliers have succeeded in artificially limiting the public’s options.

It’s cruelly ironic, and contrary to Sherman’s statement, that there is nothing novel or exotic about a downtown site simply because so much of the environmental work has already been done. Mission Valley? Not so much.

Cory Briggs is a public-interest lawyer and principal of Briggs Law Corporation. Briggs’ commentary has been edited for style and clarity. See anything in there we should fact check? Tell us what to check out here.

    This article relates to: Convention Center, Must Reads, Opinion

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    44 comments
    Bob Stein
    Bob Stein subscriber

    Now we know the hoteliers aren’t any more interested in paying for a new stadium than the people.

    They must know what we can only surmise: there’s no profit in building a stadium unless you own the team that plays in it.  After all, as Briggs points out, these guys are so greedy any whiff of money turns their heads.  Their disinterest says all that needs saying about the value of investing in a stadium. 

    Except maybe that the stadium committee created a plan that avoids a vote.  Apparently, they too know something we can only surmise: there aren’t enough voters interested in paying for a new stadium for its backers to plan on getting their support. What does that tell you about the motives of the backers?

    When are these issues going to make it into the “civic debate”? 

    We’ll never read them in the UT.  Their job is cheerleading.  We’ll never hear them from the Mayor.  He’s hiding behind his empty suit.  And we’ll never hear them from our self-appointed “civic leaders,” now handwringing in their club rooms, whom most people seem to believe are thieves or fools and wouldn’t trust with a dollar, let alone a billion.

    If the Giants, Jets, 49’ers and Rams can or are building their own stadium, Spanos can too.  If the hoteliers know football is so unimportant to selling hotel rooms they won’t lend him a dime, neither should we.

    It’s not our fault, responsibility, or to our financial interest to save Spanos or pro-football in San Diego.  Especially since Carson and TV are so close by.

    La Playa Heritage
    La Playa Heritage subscribermember

    The issue of Defaulting on the the Fifth Avenue Landing (FAL) LLC Leasehold Option will be heard as Item 1 at the City Council's Budget and Government Efficiency (BGE-1) Committee next Wednesday June 17, 2015 at 9 am.


    http://tinyurl.com/20150617


    FAL is claiming they are owed $14,219,381 including $13,805,514 in Principal and Interest, Plus $413,867 for Late Charges, or they will Foreclose on the public State Tidelands. The lease option was predicated on securing Convention Center Phase III Expansion financing through a private hotel vote, which was ruled illegal.


    The April 6, 2010 Lease included Paragraph 21 Hold Harmless on Page 139 of 333.

    Cory Briggs
    Cory Briggs subscribermember

    @La Playa Heritage There should not be any foreclosure.  The CC board voted a little over two weeks ago to immediately execute a reconveyance of title to the property.  If that has happened -- I was told a little over a week ago that it had been done or was imminent -- then FAL has no legal basis to foreclose.  Whatever panic that the city council or FAL tries to gin up at this point is a subterfuge for keeping their foot in the contiguous option's door.

    Edward Moretti
    Edward Moretti

    A few months ago when I was saying that the hoteliers where just using their political clout to keep the Bolts out of downtown I was laughed at. Oh, how the worm has turned. 

    Phillip Franklin
    Phillip Franklin subscriber

    What it all boils down to is basically the political power and the money which funds political power in this city.  From a merely political perspective it is quite easy for a special business interest group like the hoteliers or tourist industry in general to have an inordinate amount of political clout in a city like San Diego.  This has always been the case though out the post war history of this city/town.   One of the reasons is there is quite a bit of apathy on part of the citizens possibly because so many of the residents are tied to the military and defense industry which is somewhat of a disconnect from those issues which face a modern urban area like San Diego.  Many business people over the years have taken advantage of San Diego because of cheap immigrant (mostly illegal to a high degree) labor which is especially prevalent in San Diego's tourism base.  That is why the capital that flows into San Diego has almost entirely focused on tourism outside of defense and military contracting.  Even military contracting is at a disconnect to the local power structure here in that their connections and focus is on Washington politicians and not the local politicians who are to a high degree are  in awe of the power which comes from Washington.


    Basically it is easy for the big tourism and hotel lobby here to be a big fish in what is somewhat of a small pond.  Coupled with a somewhat apathetic of ignorant voter base it is easy for this sleazy business/political activity to flourish unchecked.  The politicians are really only interested in serving the special interest that matter to them.  And of course the big hoteliers are always going to be powerful.  For example compare San Diego to San Francisco which has a much smaller, but much more vocal citizenry.  San Francisco probably produces more actual tourism revenue than San Diego yet it is far from their chief private business operation.  When I worked for the mayor's office in SF back in the 1970's there were always what was called to very powerful political voices.  One was called the downtown business interests which of course included things such as tourism, banking & finance, big construction along with powerful trade unions and other big business interests.  The other very vocal and powerful interests which had city hall's ear was the neighborhood coalitions and powerful grass roots organizations. And yes those neighborhood and grass roots organizations could turn out the vote.  It created a very interesting and accommodating balanced government since no one could dominate the city.  In the end it created a very strong economic base which made government work.  For example when the SF Giants wanted a new stadium they paid for it privately.  And look how successful it has been.  Look at the wages in that city compared to those of San Diego.  It is night and day.  Yet look at the cost of living comparison.  San Diego and San Francisco both have very expensive cost of living due to very expensive real-estate and housing cost.  


    It seems the bottom line here is unless San Diego gets its act together in the next few years in terms of funding for things like infrastructure and expanding wages to the working people this city can be headed for a major financial disaster.  There will just be another group of politicians that come along like the carpetbaggers they are and try to capitalize off of all the misfortunes that this city will soon face.  As far as the Chargers leaving?  I seriously doubt they will go anywhere as long as the Spanos family owns them.  Why should they leave a rent free stadium with other huge subsidies into the millions of dollars each year?  They will probably get a new stadium deal regardless of a vote.  They are after all just a big fish in a small apathetic pond full of ignorant citizens that are easily taken like a bunch of slack-jawed yokels at a county fair by a bunch of out of town city-slickers.

    shawn fox
    shawn fox subscriber

    "Our politicians seem to have opted for proposals that would make local residents pay, rather than making visitors pay, for the public’s share of a new stadium."  


    Why should visitors pay for a football stadium?  That's preposterous.  Tourists don't visit in large numbers to attend football games.  Corey seems to have an obsession with the evil hoteliers, blaming them for all of downtown problems.  In my humble opinion, Mr. Briggs has no credibility on this subject.  Statements like the above quote are simply ridiculous.  If the people of San Diego want a football stadium then it is the people of San Diego that need to make that difficult decision of whether to pay for it with public monies.  It would be irresponsible and possibly unethical to pursue a path of paying for a stadium with occupancy tax money.

    Cory Briggs
    Cory Briggs subscribermember

    @shawn fox Do you think it's unethical to make tourists pay for an expanded convention center (even though the hoteliers tried to do that)? Do you think tourists go to the Holiday Bowl or the Poinsettia Bowl at a nice new stadium without having to pay for the capital costs of providing that facility? What taxes should tourists pay? 


    I've never said that tourists must pick up the entire tab.  But why are they not part of the equation?


    I also don't think I ever wrote that hoteliers are evil; greedy, yes.  And there's plenty of blame for downtown's problems.  Yet they are a big part of what's wrong (and at times right) downtown.

    shawn fox
    shawn fox subscriber

    @Cory Briggs @shawn fox Yes I did think that the tax plan for the CC was terrible and I am glad that it was stopped.  As you know, I've stated before that I am against having a CC run in the way that it is.  It ought to be totally privatized so that a private entity can figure out how to fund the maintenance of it.  If it were owned by hotels then certainly I'd have no problem with Hotels using their incomes for that.  However if it were privately run then of course no TOTs would be needed because it would obviously no longer be a public entity. In general TOTs ought to be for enhancing public safety and infrastructure budgets and things of that nature that benefit all citizens.  I'd find it very strange to expect TOTs to be used for building stadiums or convention centers.  The CC tax or fee that was proposed and shot down was something additional or some kind of special assessment so that really wasn't a TOT.  That still doesn't compare to the stadium issue though.  I can at least see the reasoning in having hotels charge a fee to pay for the expansion of something that in turn benefits them due to the fact that convention center users also stay in hotels much of the time. In that case I see the connection between the Hotel Industry and the CC generally.  I don't see the same connection between hotels and football stadiums.  

    Cory Briggs
    Cory Briggs subscribermember

    Fair enough, Shawn. I agree with you about how TOT should be spent and am working on that angle. Where I think we part company -- correct me if I'm wrong -- is that you think TOT should not go to a stadium at all, while I am saying it should be up to the voters to decide. I just want to understand where we part company and am not being argumentative. Do I have it?

    shawn fox
    shawn fox subscriber

    @Cory Briggs I think so.  I just don't like the idea of passing the buck on to tourists for every major project.  In my mind if the people want a stadium, and some public funding is the only way to do it then the people need to decide whether to open up their own wallets.  A Pro Team is primarily for the people of San Diego.  We'd get a super bowl maybe once every 15 years.  I don't see a strong connection between TOTs and Stadiums.  Of course it should be up to the voters to decide all matters of tax increases.  On the comment where I quoted you earlier, the politicians are not always wrong.  By the way TOTs aren't paid by Hotels.  They are paid by people who stay at hotels.  I'm a bit unclear about why you are always harping on Hotel owners.  To me it is too easy to pass the buck to tourists and then spend the money on terrible projects.  When we pay the taxes, we think more carefully about it.  Do we really need this thing or not?  If we can make other people pay then why not?  Next thing you know we have some idiotic project which is hundreds of millions in debt with no end in sight.

    Cory Briggs
    Cory Briggs subscribermember

    That very project is called the convention center! (I couldn't resist.)

    FWIW, I harp on the hoteliers because of their enormous political power and how they wield it. I will be the first person to pat them on the back when they do something good and beyond their immediate economic self-interest. I have done that for many other opponents and would love to do it for the hoteliers. But it takes two to tango.

    Thanks for your comments. They are helpful.

    Phillip Franklin
    Phillip Franklin subscriber

    @shawn fox Shawn you completely miss the point.  From an economic perspective it is up to the business interests which benefit from a particular capital out lay to fund that capital cost.  It doesn't matter whether the ticket buyers to Chargers games are locals or  visitors.  You see when one special interest such as the hoteliers or the NFL has an inordinate amount of political power in a city such as San Diego they will use that political power for their own special interest which is contrary to that of the needs of those who reside here and are responsible to pay the bills.  Since you say it is impossible for a city to pay for a capital out lay such as a new football stadium or convention center with money from say a hotel room tax then why should the city attempt that strategy?  My answer to you is a simple one which doesn't require much in the way of intellect to understand.  Here it is:  Because they can fool the citizenry into thinking those special fees to tourists will cover the costs which every one knows including yourself will not. That is why they propose those foolish ideas.  You see that is I and most people call them foolish ideas.  They are designed to fool the fools.  Get it?  You know the fools ... the slack jawed locals who will believe anything as long as it is properly presented to them.  That is why people still send out emails describing themselves as Nigerian princes with fortunes which the reader can help.  Unfortunately the Nigerian prince scheme fails in comparison to modern day local San Diego politics. Now you get it?

    Dean Plassaras
    Dean Plassaras

    It would appear to me that  Briggs is public enemy #1 and clearly part of the problem.


    Stadium what? What losing the Chargers effing nonsense is this? 


    Inarticulate, uneducated morony not worth the digital space such propaganda occupies. 

    Dan McLellan
    Dan McLellan

    @ZachW There are multiple reasons why the two needed projects must be discussed together. Combining the convention center and stadium has the potential to save several hundred million in construction cost and the Convention Corp (Hoteliers) have recently forfeited the land land needed for a contiguous expansion leaving  a non-contiguous expansion as the most likely resolution to the convention problem.   


    Parking is a great place to start when talking about savings by not duplicating construction costs. The Mickey Friends Garage at Disneyland is the second largest in North America at 10,250 spaces. The Detroit Airport parking garage is the largest at 11,000 spaces. The Disneyland garage cost around $240 million including entitlement and architecture when it was completed in 2001. That was after five years of planning and two years of construction. CSAG only allotted $144 million for a 12,000 parking spots. Not only is that nearly 100 million less than Mickey and Friends, the new garage in Mission Valley would likely cost more because is it is larger and there are additional costs in constructing a garage that will have most patrons leaving at the same time.  


    You may not be concerned about the cost of the garage for a new stadium, but there is no reason why this cost should be duplicated with a new large parking garage for a separate convention center. By combining the two, there are additional costly facilities that would not need to be duplicated such as back of the house, food preparation, and loading docks. 


    Contiguous no longer seems to be a viable option now that land for such an expansion is no longer owned by the Convetion Corp.  In fact, there is no plan currently on the table to expand the Convention Center and Comic-Con is only committed through 2016. The quickest way to move forward on the convention center expansion is to adopt the JMI/Chargers plan that would also include a stadium. There are already beautiful design plans and preliminary environmental report has been completed. 


    Most importantly there is already a successful example of combining a stadium and convention center with Lucas Oil Field in Indianapolis. They have over 20 major events on their calendar this year and have proven than the NFL and convention calendar can blend.

    David Crossley
    David Crossley subscriber

    @Dan McLellan @ZachW  --Lucas Oil Field isn't a very good example--you might want to read a bit more about all the taxes that had to be raised after that stadium/convention center opened after they discovered revenue came nowhere near operating expenses for that facility, and taxes were raised after the fact in an 8 county area to cover the shortfall.

    mike johnson
    mike johnson subscriber

    The people were never in favor of the convention center. Remember they voted the original center down and the port had to pay for it.  Plus if anybody did the income and added expenses for the second expansion. There is a big deficit.


    I laugh at San Diego politics. My family goes back to the 1890 in San Diego. We use to let the land developer get away without paying. Now it is the hotel industry.


    What I find funny is the politician backing $10 jobs. While they basically do nothing for the technology and biotech industry. Who have high paying jobs. There should be roads and freeways around 5/805 areas to make it easier to commute for those people. New building should go to the front of the line.


    No the politician want to subsidize the hotel. Just do a survey around California and see what the going tax per room and how the other cities spend that money. San Diego is at the bottom for the room tax.

    Cory Briggs
    Cory Briggs subscribermember

    @mike johnson You're right about San Diego being on the lower end of TOT rates.  From what I've seen, we could raise the TOT to 15% -- that'd be a 4.5% increase -- and still be competitive.  I think people are starting to realize that we're getting to the point where this option needs to be presented to the voters not only to address our infrastructure issues, but also because the politicians seem ready to hand out whopping subsidies to sports teams and hoteliers.  If the politicians are game for adding to corporate bottom lines through subsidies, why would they not want to help out the city's bottom line by taxing out-of-towners?

    shawn fox
    shawn fox subscriber

    @Cory Briggs @mike johnson Ok - if you are saying that TOTs are too low and should be used for infrastructure and public safety then at least that is a valid argument.  Suggesting that TOTs should pay for a football stadium as you did within your article is ludicrous.

    Frank Landis
    Frank Landis subscriber

    I'm not sure I believe Mr. Brigg's analysis, although I do agree with the pattern he's seeing.


    Here's my side: I comment on projects for a local environmental group.  We simply want to see the environmental laws followed, in our case to protect San Diego's native species.  One thing I've noticed repeatedly is that the City doesn't follow the law.  For example, in recent documents on a trails plan for a park and on the much-contested vernal pools plan, the City, possibly deliberately and certainly repeatedly, left out the presence of endangered species in the projects they were writing about, even when they didn't have to, and even when, in the case of the trails plan, we and the USFWS had pointed out that they'd left the information out, and both we and the USFWS actually supported the trails plan despite its flaws.


    This is apparently not a new pattern.  The City was successfully sued over their previous version of the vernal pools plan.  Currently, while they're claiming they've mapped every pool, they've left a number off in the current version of the plan, and their current regulatory draft left us with many questions.


    It really bothers me to say this, because I also do a lot of volunteer work for the City and I admire many of the people who work there.  Unfortunately, I have to wonder whether the pattern Mr. Briggs and I see is bigger than the hoteliers.  Is it part of the culture in City hall?  I don't know.  What I do strongly believe is that it's cheaper and easier to simply follow California's environmental laws, even when no one sues.  I also strongly suspect that the City brings a lot of problems down on itself by acting as it does, and I just wish they'd stop.

    Geoff Page
    Geoff Page subscribermember

    @Frank Landis One of your sentences said it best "One thing I've noticed repeatedly is that the City doesn't follow the law."  I would say this is the City's culture.  The worst offender is the Development Services Department.  The City bows like reed to pressure everywhere.  A culture of strength and integrity is what we need.  Might as well dream.

    Frank Landis
    Frank Landis subscriber

    @Geoff Page @Frank Landis: Well, yes, and they bow even when there's no pressure, and even when it would be better for everyone in the deal to stand straight and simply follow the law..  If I could dream, it would be San Diego's media doing some in depth reporting on Development Services.

    ZachW
    ZachW subscriber

    Why is a stadium even mentioned when discussing a convention center expansion? These are two separate issues, buildings with separate uses, and I think citizens are being stripped of our rights to evaluate the merits of each of these independently when public officials and people involved in shaping our city policies continually try and combine these two things, either literally into one project or figuratively in lumping them both together in the debating process. I'd like to see a detailed analysis of the convention center expansion without a single mention of football. Convention business is important to our city and it deserves rational discourse without continually being clouded by the drama with the Chargers. I personally feel that any expansion that is not CONTIGUOUS is an irresponsible waste of tax payer dollars. Conventioneers don't want to be shuttled around town to different sites when other cities can offer the space under one roof. That's just idiotic,

    So let's work on a convention center solution. I'm in favor of expanding it and I want Comic Con to stay. But let's set some basic parameters for moving forward with the discussion:

    (1) don't tie this issue to a Chargers stadium

    (2) it needs to be contiguous space

    Cory Briggs
    Cory Briggs subscribermember

    @ZachW As you can see from one of my responses here, I too am in favor of a public vote on a convention center expansion.  But I would urge you to keep a few things in mind (even if you already have a preference for contiguous space, which I'm not knocking for any reason other than that contiguity is illegal under the Coastal Act): 

    (1) Comic-Con already successfully operates its event at the CC and at other satellite locations around town (many in downtown), and I am not aware of much if any complaining about it.

    (2) Going across the street to Tailgate Park, whether it's a single-use or joint-use facility, is not a long walk (and there's a ~$30 million bridge that was built several years back to accommodate such foot traffic).

    (3) "Rational discourse" requires that we know the economics of a single- vs. joint-use facility, and especially the public's contribution, before we make up our mind.

    And that is why I am arguing to have the discussion topics expanded.  It is too soon to say for sure whether one option or the either is better or whether any of them is worse pursuing.  But there is enough out there to warrant looking at other options with sufficient detail to allow the public to make an informed decision.  That's all I'm saying.  I want is a fair discussion that culminates with an informed public vote.

    Chris Brewster
    Chris Brewster subscribermember

    Every major hotel has some degree of meeting and banquet facilities. The need for a convention center springs from the fact that no hotels have the capacity for really large conventions, but all (or at least most) hotels benefit from them. In effect, convention centers are overflow capacity for hotel meeting space. For me, the bigger question is why government is running a facility that exists primarily to benefit private businesses. Why not endeavor to sell it to the private businesses which benefit from it (or an investor) and be done with it. Here’s an old, but well worded research paper on the subject: http://bit.ly/1FLD4XB

    Cory Briggs
    Cory Briggs subscribermember

    @Chris Brewster Good question. If we were starting from scratch, there'd be a fair argument against the taxpayers footing the bill for this sort of thing. There might also be a fair argument that the ADDITIONAL tax revenues and economic activity that come from having a convention center, as opposed to not having one, make it worthwhile for the public to invest in a convention center. Without comparing the with/without scenarios, however, it's impossible to make an informed decision.


    We need that comparison in order to make a meaningful decision about expanding.  Do the ADDITIONAL benefits attributable to the expansion (as opposed to the entire expanded convention center, which would include a lot of double-counting if we did it that way) justify the public's investment?  I am unaware of any such comparison by anyone who's both competent to crunch the numbers and unbiased.


    But there are several reasons we cannot sell the CC to someone else.  First, it's on public tidelands owned by the state; the best we could do is assign the lease or hire someone to manage it for us.  Second, there's in excess of $100 million still owed against it by the city, and no sane buyer would fork over in excess of $100 million to pay off the debt on top of whatever the sales price would be; so we're stuck with it.  Third, the CC is in crappy condition, with somewhere between $30 million and $40 million in major repairs needed to bring it up to current standards, and it loses $3-4 million each year in its operations.  Nobody with a room-temp IQ would pay even one dollar (much less over $100 million to pay off the bonds) to take on a massive liability with no chance of making enough money to retire the debt.

    So the public's going to be saddled with this albatross for a long time to come. The best we can do right now is mitigate the damage and consider whether there are any economies of scale that will help us do so.

    Cory Briggs
    Cory Briggs subscribermember

    On the whole, that depends on the with/without analysis so I cannot say for sure. But it has certainly been a cash-flow drag for years.

    shawn fox
    shawn fox subscriber

    @Chris Brewster That's obvious Chris.  That is because of public employee unions and those that believe that government has some moral obligation to pay employees more than what they would make working in the private sector.  Public entities are more regulated.  Unions sued during the CC fiasco and won their argument with threats of dragging out lawsuits requiring PLAs and unionized workers at the CC.  Additionally, I have to say that Hotels probably like it when government assumes responsibility for debt.  It isn't that they are evil.  It is just that they are human and probably enjoy reaping the benefits of dumb decisions by lawmakers.  The CC is so far in debt now that who would want to take it over?  If private businesses did take it over, I'm sure that the unions and government would do everything possible to prevent anyone from making a profit from the business.  They'd require PLAs.  They'd try to pressure the owner(s) into raising wages to some artificially high number.  They'd try to force businesses to embrace their social justice agenda.  Gee what business wouldn't want to buy the CC?

    Chris Brewster
    Chris Brewster subscribermember

    Mr. Fox: Unions may be a convenient scapegoat, but I am guessing that in real dollars the greatest beneficiaries by a significant margin are hotel owners and restaurant owners, or, to be more embracing, the tourism industry generally. I don't owners of tourism oriented businesses just enjoyed the benefits of wayward legislators. I think they engineered the outcome because every private business would like to see government spending that benefits them. In this community, business interests are at least as powerful as labor interests. I would argue they are much more powerful.

    Dan McLellan
    Dan McLellan

    Thank you Cory for spreading light on this important issue. Too many people think our mayor has worked in a positive direction towards a new stadium. Unfortunately mayor Faulconer and CSAG are closely tied to Hoteliers. The efforts they have taken to push the discussion away from the much simpler and wiser solution of downtown has only made the Chargers leaving a greater reality. We are now on the path to lose both the Chargers and Comic-Con due to ineffective leadership and greed. 


    The mayor's December 15th stadium vote is further evidence of "ignoring the well-lit path in favor of exotic and novel legal approaches" by attempting to skirt environmental law with a CEQA exemption. This approach will not lead to success, it will only line the pockets of lawyers like your self. There are already 112 groups, many with deep pockets,  who have signed a petition to fight a CEQA exemption for an NFL stadium. List Here: http://www.pcl.org/pdfs/CEQA-Opposition-List.pdf


    Now that the Convention Center Corporation (Hoteliers) have forfeited the land they had hoped to use for a contiguous expansion, I can only hope that they will embrace the downtown stadium/convention center project. Doing so makes sense because there is no other current path to expand the Convention Center and Comic-Con is only committed to San Diego through 2016.  


    It is time that San Diego, and our leadership, wake up to the fact that downtown provides the only path to keeping the Chargers and Comic-Con. 


    I urge you to write more and continue to contribute to the conversation. Your input is very much needed! 




    Cory Briggs
    Cory Briggs subscribermember

    @Dan McLellan More importantly, Dan, your voice is needed.  The politicians need to hear from you and other like-minded San Diegans about what should be put on the table in these "negotiations" (in quotes because too much was given away before the negotiations even started).  We'll get to vote on what the politicians decide we get to vote on.  Since the hoteliers' have the politicians' ears -- and campaign contributions -- the public needs to do all it can to drown out the hoteliers' voices so that the full panoply of financing options is on the table when the politicians call for the election.  Democracies die behind closed doors, because that's where the agendas are set. 


    Thanks for your comments.

    Bob Stein
    Bob Stein subscriber

    Cory, Do you know any individuals or groups developing a no public funding for football campaign? And if so, can you direct me to them? I'd like to help them win.

    michael-leonard
    michael-leonard subscriber

    So, lemme see if I got this right. It's the "local hotel-industry leadership... and their entourage" who are responsible for killing the idea of a downtown stadium or stadium-convention center mixture?

    But, wouldn't they have the most to gain from such development?

    Cory Briggs
    Cory Briggs subscribermember

    They would gain something, but they think they can do even better by controlling the money to pay for these things. Remember: the hoteliers had no problem with a new tax that would have raised $575 million just in principal and passing that on to their guests to pay for the convention center expansion that they wanted. Obviously they believe that hotel guests downtown are willing to pay an additional 3% on top of the existing taxes. So why is this taxing option not even being discussed for a stadium? It's because the hoteliers want that money for themselves.

    In limiting the funding options, the hoteliers know that the stadium plan will require locals to pick up the new taxes. That, of course, will make it even more likely that the proposal fails at the ballot box. At that point, after the Chargers move north, the hoteliers will then argue that a tax increase is needed in order to finance a bigger convention center that will bring in new business to make up for what has been lost on account of the Chargers going north. It's smoke and mirrors.

    At it's core, this fight is not the Chargers against the city. It is the hoteliers against the city's taxpayers. Without a tourist-funded option, the politicians are negotiating with both hands tied behind their backs.

    David Crossley
    David Crossley subscriber

    @Cory Briggs  --I agree with you that TOT should be used for both projects, but I believe any stadium should go next to the current one in Mission Valley.  JMO

    Cory Briggs
    Cory Briggs subscribermember

    David: I ultimately don't care where the stadium goes, if it goes. But I do think the public is entitled to be presented with a proposal for building a joint-use facility if we can fund the public's portion through a TOT increase and if the public's cost for such a facility is the same or not too much more than the public's cost for a new stand-alone stadium. These are two big IFs, I admit, but from what I've learned so far they are possible and perhaps even reasonably probable.

    I am not advocating for this to be the final outcome. As I said above, I am personally agnostic. However, the public is being asked to make a false choice. The public deserves to know all the options -- all pros, all cons, all costs, and all funding streams -- before it decides which path to take. My point is that the hoteliers are pulling strings behind the scenes to limit the universe of possibilities. If there as an option that gives us more bang for the tourist's buck, why shouldn't we be allowed to vote on it?

    David Crossley
    David Crossley subscriber

    @Cory Briggs  --I appreciate what you do, but we disagree on this.  I just feel it's a waste of time, if for no other reason, the location of a place to play for the Chargers.  It should be multi-purpose, but realistically, all stadia are multi-purpose.  However, based on it's central location, I just feel a stadium should be built next to the current one.  The reason I choose this is the hoteliers are never going to agree to a "convadium" set-up.  I think TOT should be raised 5%, which should be enough to cover both projects separately.  But the hoteliers should be told in no uncertain terms that there will be no TOT increase of any kind put on the ballot to fund a convention center expansion without agreeing to raise TOT to a level that will allow both projects to be paid for.


    People may think I am nuts for wanting TOT raised that much, but it's just another idea.

    Cory Briggs
    Cory Briggs subscribermember

    David: You make some good points, especially about a TOT increase.

    ZachW
    ZachW subscriber

    Cory, why is the public entitled to be presented with a joint use facility? There are many citizens out there who either favor a convention center expansion and not a chargers stadium, or vice-versa. It's not fair to lump these together. I will be honest, I'm willing to pay more as a city resident for a convention center expansion but I'm not willing to pay more taxes for a football stadium. Being presented with an option that's both or nothing seems very unfair to me.

    ZachW
    ZachW subscriber

    Thanks, Cory for the clarification. I agree with you that we should get a say in every option.

    Cory Briggs
    Cory Briggs subscribermember

    I think the public should get to vote on the CC by itself too; that is why I agreed to be involved in the lawsuit that eventually secured the right to vote if the politicians and hoteliers try again.

    But my point above is in the context of the Chargers debate. If -- another big IF -- the public is going to vote on a new stadium, all reasonable options should be up for consideration. The hoteliers' greed shouldn't narrow the voters' choices. My op-ed wasn't meant to preclude a choice on expanding the CC as a stand-alone option.

    Dean Plassaras
    Dean Plassaras

    @Cory Briggs What are you talking about? 


    How did you come up with the conclusion that this NFL owner could ever move north? 


    The entire body of evidence points to the fact that Carson is a fake and that the owner is trapped here in the worst possible way.


    Do you know something about stadium financing that you want to share with us?


    Don't you know that is a major faux-pas for an attorney to mislead the public not to mention a major ethical violation or perhaps a crime punishable by law?

    Cory Briggs
    Cory Briggs subscribermember

    @Dean Plassaras @Cory Briggs I realize you think I'm an "effing idiot," as your comment above indicated before it was revised.  I hear that a lot, especially from family members at holiday gatherings. 


    Seriously, you and I simply see the evidence differently.  I don't think Goldman Sachs gets involved in head fakes.  Maybe I'm wrong, but I think they go where the money is.  And since they have lots of influence when it comes to ensuring that they make a lot of money, I think we have to take the threat seriously. 


    What I'm not wrong about is the artificial narrowing of the debate that is currently taking place.  Whether the Chargers stay or go, whether the CC expands or doesn't, why are we talking about pulling hundreds of millions of dollars from existing revenues and assets in order to pay for what many cities that have been in similar circumstances have paid for through new taxes on tourists?  Then, when you add in that our city is facing an infrastructure crisis and multi-billion-dollar backlog, why would we unilaterally disarm, so to speak, in the battle to make sure the financial pain is not felt by locals only?  Why shouldn't the tourists who go to football games and conventions be paying for their new facilities?

    So, yes, it's true I don't know what the Chargers are going to do.  What I do know is that the discussion that the politicians, hoteliers, and Chargers are having today is limited to sticking you and me and other San Diegans with the bill and not to a single out-of-town user of a new stadium or convention center.  If you think that's fair, I'd love to hear why.