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Fool Me Twice: Don't Trust the Architect of San Diego's Last Bad Stadium Deal

The driver behind SDSU West is a former San Diego city manager who made a bad stadium deal once before. If Measure G passes, he’ll be sitting on both sides of the table making the decisions again.

Qualcomm Stadium / Photo by Dustin Michelson

If someone sold you on a couple of bad deals in the past that cost you hundreds of millions of dollars, you certainly wouldn’t do business with them a third time, right? 

This exact scenario is playing out right now with Measure G and the man behind the curtains pulling the strings, Jack McGrory. 

Voice of San Diego CommentaryRemember him? 

For those unaware of San Diego’s not-so-distant past, let me give you a brief history: McGrory was San Diego’s city manager and the key designer behind plans to underfund San Diego’s pension system while at the same time, increasing city employee benefits.  

This horrible policy plunged San Diego into a deep financial crisis and turned the city into a national embarrassment known as “Enron by the Sea.” The budget shortfalls resulting from McGrory’s plan forced the city to halt road repairs, browned out fire stations, and cut hours at public libraries. 

To this day, taxpayers are still paying for McGrory’s underfunding scheme. In the 2018 fiscal year alone, the city paid $324.5 million just to make the minimum payment on our pension debt.  

The last time McGrory negotiated a stadium deal, San Diego got the Chargers ticket guarantee. For those who don’t remember, the city guaranteed to cover up to 60,000 unbought game day tickets per game. Thanks to McGrory, San Diego taxpayers were forced to cough up more than $36 million to Dean Spanos between 1997 and 2004.  

Today McGrory has positioned himself perfectly yet again to pick the taxpayer’s pocket.  

McGrory is the main author and driver behind Measure G, the SDSU West proposal. The short 13-page ballot measure raises more questions than answers. What is clear, however, is that it transfers much of the decision-making power to the California State University Board of Trustees. 

Guess who recently got himself appointed to that board? You guessed it, McGrory. 

If Measure G is approved by voters, McGrory will literally be sitting on both sides of the table making the decisions for yet another stadium deal. Based on his past actions, can we afford to trust him a third time?  

When it comes time to make the decision about the future of the Mission Valley stadium site, it’s important to consider the people behind them. McGrory is behind Measure G and his past shenanigans cannot be ignored.  

San Diego families have paid and will continue to pay for McGrory’s mistakes for decades to come. Should our children and grandchildren be forced to pay for yet another McGrory scheme? Don’t give him another chance to put taxpayers at risk. Vote no on Measure G. 

Scott Sherman is the San Diego City Councilman representing District 7. He’s endorsed SoccerCity, a competing proposal for the Mission Valley stadium site listed on the ballot as Measure E. 

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