As the Chargers prepare for their first home game in Carson, there is a lot of buzz about how there are still tickets available.

Perhaps the best decision the team made in this whole mess was to move to StubHub Center while a permanent stadium is being built. The Coliseum or the Rose Bowl, had they been available, would have been an optical disaster.

They took a weakness (lack of support in L.A.) and turned it into a kind of asset (intimacy).

Not selling out immediately – for the opener – though, is shocking. It’s a 27,000-seat stadium, a little more than one-third the size of the venue formerly known as Qualcomm Stadium.

It has led people to think maybe, just maybe, things will go so poorly that the team’s owners will change their minds.

They won’t. This is a 20-year investment. They’re not going to bail the first day.


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

Although I guess I would put that call at 98 percent certainty. The optics of not being able to fill such a small stadium in such a populated place may be spurring some interesting conversations.

To grapple with feelings of hope that the NFL may return, it would help to remember a few simple things about why, exactly, the Chargers left.

It could have been built: San Diego could have built a stadium. There’s no doubt in my mind that the city (and maybe the county) of San Diego could have built a $700 million stadium with the help of the Chargers, the National Football League and local corporations and fans. They could have done this without a special tax increase. I’m not sure they should have, but politically it could have happened.

That’s not good enough: The NFL, and specifically the Chargers, were not and are not interested in that kind of stadium. Look at the palaces they’re building in Las Vegas and Inglewood. League owners think this is what they merit now. Dean Spanos offered San Diego the opportunity for a palace of his own, a $1.8 billion stadium he said we could use for conventions too. But it required a hefty tax increase and was not at all designed to win a political campaign.

There’s only one hindsight: The team had also offered Mayor Kevin Faulconer and County Supervisor Ron Roberts a $1.2 billion version for Mission Valley. Looking back, the mayor, if he was going to end up supporting the Chargers’ big plan for downtown, he should have just gone with this version. It might not have passed but it was far more viable than the downtown plan.

Still would’ve been real hard, though: Regardless, a special tax increase for a stadium would have been extremely hard to pass. Nevermind what a new Supreme Court ruling means or not.

Bottom line: Thus, the most basic, simple fact to come out of this whole experience is San Diego cannot afford what the NFL charges to host its teams now.

The rest is just a game of hot potato for who has to tell fans that.

One last point: There’s something deeply wrong with the NFL. I think the last place to pony up this kind of public money for a stadium is Las Vegas, and I think it’s Vegas for a reason. It’s the height of excess, of economic mania, of indulgence, of immorality.

• The NFL is not coming back until – and if – this corrects to something more rational.

Political Consultants

Jason Roe has left the firm Revolvis. You might remember Roe from such campaigns as Mayor Kevin Faulconer’s special election and his Never Trump status that got him national attention.

Revolvis was the dominant firm in local politics for a couple years, though, and is still a big deal. But Roe is on his own now. He says he’ll still partner with Revolvis.

Roe is helping run Bonnie Dumanis’ campaign for county supervisor, and Summer Stephan’s campaign to replace Dumanis as the elected, not just appointed, district attorney.

More Political Consultants

For a long time, it seemed like San Diego’s political left was devoid of a similar infrastructure of professional campaign consultants. Not that there weren’t any but there certainly seemed to be more good-paying work on the right.

Not so much now.

One rising star is Dan Rottenstreich. He had two big wins last year. He ran the campaign for Mara Elliott for city attorney and Georgette Gomez’s campaign for City Council. Both Elliott and Gomez were considered unlikely to advance out of the primaries, let alone win. They did both.

Now Rottenstreich is running strategy for Nathan Fletcher, who’s in another battle with Dumanis, this time for that supervisor spot Ron Roberts is vacating.

One More

And then there’s Tom Shepard. The longtime mayoral kingmaker, Shepard has had his share of ups and downs.

He also had some wins last year – in particular, he advised Democrat Barbara Bry, whose impressive campaign in last year’s City Council primary election was enough to persuade her opponent, Ray Ellis, to stand down.

But his career is best known for representing Republicans. He helped get Susan Golding and Jerry Sanders elected mayor, and worked with all five Republican county supervisors until the last cycle. (Republican Kristen Gaspar won a seat. She worked with Roe and Revolvis.)

San Diego County Republican Party Chairman Tony Krvaric has been on a crusade to get Republicans to stop working with Shepard and stop calling him a Republican. Here’s a recent public Facebook post from Krvaric:

All: For the record Thomas Shepard is NOT a “Republican” political consultant. Please stop referring to him that way. He has switched teams and now helps Democrats. He orchestrated the Nathan Fletcher party switch and consulted for disgraced Bob Filner. He is NOT a friend of Republicans or our principles.

I asked Shepard for a response. Here’s what he wrote:

The focus of our practice has always been on non-partisan local campaigns, and that continues to be the case. We work for the candidates we believe are best qualified for office, regardless of party affiliation. Krvaric’s gratuitous attacks continue to be very helpful to us in business development.

Goodbye, Dan McSwain

I was troubled to read U-T columnist Dan McSwain’s announcement that he was leaving the U-T and journalism. It was a very good column, if a bit troubling with whatever he was implying about his cognitive decline.

I don’t see the evidence for it. He’s one of the sharpest thinkers in town. I wish him the best.

What worries me is to see yet another important journalist holding leaders accountable in San Diego move on to something else. The cracks in our foundation are now just gaping caves. The stuff that will fall through keeps me awake at night.

    This article relates to: Chargers Stadium, Politics

    Written by Scott Lewis

    Scott Lewis oversees Voice of San Diego’s operations, website and daily functions as Editor in Chief. He also writes about local politics, where he frequently breaks news and goes back and forth with local political figures. Contact Scott at scott.lewis@voiceofsandiego.org or 619.325.0527, and follow him on Twitter at @vosdscott.

    8 comments
    mike murphy
    mike murphy

    geeze, why the big deal, its all set up entertainment for money,   just ignore the nfl and see how fast ticket sales and prices drop.


    Robert Cohen
    Robert Cohen subscriber

    Over the last 10 or so years of watching the stadium saga take place, it became increasingly evident that pro football was becoming a luxury item for SD.  The necessities of road repair, police, fire, libraries and other everyday city expenses where, and still are, becoming harder to pay for.  Setting aside monies to build a football palace, necessary to keep up with the (Jerry) Joneses, was become less palatable to a majority of San Diegans.  The Chargers did what the had to do, that is, move to LA, because a palace is what they consider a necessity in their own industry, in order to protect and grow the value of their asset.


    I may not like the idea of them moving, but I understand why they did it and will not cry over it.


    Like Scott Lewis, I was saddened to see Dan McSwain's farewell piece in the paper.  I enjoyed reading his columns as he always had a sober look at the realities of city finances and other business issues.  Good luck to him in whatever he chooses to do.

    bgetzel
    bgetzel subscriber

    That was a good summary of the Charger situation. Las Vegas not withstanding, i am hopeful that cities across the nation will stop allowing the NFL to hold them hostage. The Chargers made $30 million in 2015! Why was that not good enough for them? Teams are demanding mega stadiums with a huge amount of luxury sweets, so they can be rolling in even more cash. In a capitalist society that keeps professing to believe in the free market system, we keep subsidizing a business that is doing just fine without dipping into people's pockets.

    David Crossley
    David Crossley subscriber

    @bgetzel  --According to Forbes, The Team That Used To Play In San Diego made $59 million in 2016.  And continued to pay no rent, as had been the case since around 2007.

    mike johnson
    mike johnson subscriber

    @David Crossley @bgetzel 

    For the next ten years the Chargers have to pay 65 million dollars in re-location fee. With the club playing in in a 28,000 seat stadium with a lot higher prices. They might break even.

    The Raiders the last few years in Los Angles after ten year were drawing only 55,000. The Rams were still in town.  How many people do you think the Chargers will draw in there new Rams stadium in three years.  I am guessing 45,000 including the 10,000 opposing team fans. They need to win their division every year to get over 60,000. Easy prediction. They will be back in ten years in San Diego. Like the Raiders gave up on LA in ten years.

    David Crossley
    David Crossley subscriber

    @mike johnson @David Crossley @bgetzel  --But you don't say where in San Diego they will play, or who will build the stadium that they would play in.  Until those questions are answered, the Chargers will not be returning in 10 years.  Or ever.

    Robert Cohen
    Robert Cohen subscriber

    @mike johnson @David Crossley @bgetzel The relocation fee is most likely tax deductible which will certainly soften that expensive payment blow.  If that money had gone into a new stadium, it more than likely would not have been deductible but added to the cost of a rapidly depreciating stadium which would have been owned by the city, not the Chargers.