San Diego taxpayers to be Chargers laughingstock?

Stadium opposition group says team would pay no rent

Image of proposed San Diego convadium
  • Image of proposed San Diego convadium

While the Chargers spend money to propagandize for their stadium/convention center (convadium) proposal, some opposition groups are pointing out what a smelly deal Dean Spanos is trying to foist on San Diegans.

Dean Spanos

Dean Spanos

Today (August 17), the group "No Downtown Stadium — Jobs and Streets First" sent out more information that the public may not be aware of. (Who has read the 100-page-plus proposal?)

The Chargers will pay nothing in rent, says the opposition.

"If voters approve the Chargers ballot measure, the only rent the team would be obligated to pay the City is for public safety costs for games and operations and maintenance," says the opposing group. "Under the Chargers ballot measure, the stadium would not generate any revenue for taxpayers even though taxpayers would own the facility."

Generally, billionaire team owners underestimate the cost of a subsidized stadium. In the Chargers proposal, if project costs exceed revenue, "the City would be forced to cut spending on street repairs and other important neighborhood services in order to make payments on the stadium bonds," the opposition group says.

"No Downtown Stadium" also points out that Comic-Con is opposed to the convadium concept, partly because a second off-site convention center could make Comic-Con's situation worse by opening up convention space for competing events.

I have communicated with Comic-Con, and in my opinion, the building of the Chargers' convadium might drive Comic-Con out of town.

Bruce Henderson

Bruce Henderson

Former councilmember Bruce Henderson points out that under their proposal, the Chargers would only have an option to build a stadium, "but it would not have an obligation."

In my opinion, San Diego would be the laughingstock of the nation if it approved such a one-sided proposal. St. Louis is now the laughingstock because of the ridiculous deal the city gave the Los Angeles Rams to move there. Now St. Louis has lost the Rams, which are returning to Los Angeles.

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A no rent stadium deal would make the Chargers hero's in the NFL. Money for nothing.

Also a two site Comic-Con convention center would be a nightmare of pedestrian traffic.

MichaelValentine: Oh yes. If the Chargers got San Diego taxpayers to subsidize a stadium, and the team had to pay no rent, Dean Spanos would be worshipped by the other billionaire NFL team owners. Those NFL owners gloat every time a team screws the public.

Yes, a convadium five or six blocks from the original convention center would be a logistical nightmare, as well as an initiative that might drive Comic-Con out of San Diego. Best, Don Bauder

Flapper: I can't tell who you think is guilty of eyewash and hogwash. The Chargers? The organization "No Downtown Stadium"? Me? Best, Don Bauder

The concept illustration. Fireworks (deadly air pollution, though slow, and the glimmering rays, and the excess, and the slime behind it. Spanos is right out of Central Casting.

Flapper: I agree about Spanos. This is a guy who couldn't get a decent deal in L.A., came back to San Diego and claimed he really loved the city all along, particularly if it would build him a stadium, and was able to get some people-- I hope very few -- to believe him. Best, Don Bauder

Flapper: There is no question that Dean Spanos often forgets to take his smart pills. Best, Don Bauder

But . . . I'm not giving money to ANY organization that isn't up-front with their financials and who is behind it--PERIOD! You're right--I don't trust anybody.

Flapper: Then refuse to buy any tickets to NFL or MLB games. You can get very little financial information from either league. You are right: don't trust any sports team owner begging for a taxpayer handout. Best, Don Bauder

As the U-T polls you've referenced indicate, the initiative has almost no chance of receiving the required 2/3 approval.

I'm really not sure what the Chargers' plan is. Are they hoping to buy time until ? Are they hoping to somehow re-negotiate with Stan Kroenke? Are they hoping to re-negotiate with the San Diego task force? After the ballot measure fails we will see the next move for the Chargers.

ImJustABill: The Chargers, as I have mentioned, have a couple of fallback positions. 1. They could continue playing at Qualcomm. If that eventuates, the city should insist on an equitable contract in 2020 -- one in which the Chargers pay their fair share in rent, maintenance, etc. 2. The Chargers could sell the team, or 51 percent of it, to a multi-billionaire whom Kroenke trusts, and who could provide capital for a part of the Inglewood project. Best, Don Bauder

Never underestimate the stupidity of Charger fans and San Diego voters.

There is zero chance the initiative will pass.

Polls might not be perfect but they're not going to be off by a factor of 2.

Charger fans might hold out hope for a miracle fast start and playoff quality team but most projections predict a poor year for the Chargers. Even in preseason they are off to a bad start - a 27-10 preseason loss, several key players hurt, and an unsigned draft pick who's turned out to be greedy, lazy and stupid.

It will be interesting to see what the real plan is once it gets voted down.

somehow this all seems like part of a long range ( smarmy) plan to once again hoze the tax payers.

maybe its a game to Spanos, and he gets a thrill or of screwing over people, and once done, a bigger thrill once they realize they were screwed over.

Murphyjunk: Once again, I stress: be sure to vote, and be sure to get everyone you know who opposes the billionaire stadium scam to vote. No complacency! Best, Don Bauder

Quoting Alex Clarke above...."Never under estimate the stupidity of Charger fans and San Diego voters."

JustWondering: One more reason to get out and vote -- and to get those who agree with you to vote.

Everybody seems sure that 67 percent will be the threshold. But suppose the state supreme court says that 50 percent will be OK in this instance. Then all those people who didn't show up to vote will weep as their pockets are picked. Best, Don Bauder

ImJustABill: It's dangerous to be so certain that the Chargers can't win the vote. Such an attitude begets apathy -- voters staying home. It's imperative that everyone who doesn't want to see taxpayers fleeced show up and vote against the Chargers.

You ask the right question. Do the Chargers hope to lose in a landslide so the NFL will try to twist Kroenke's arm to give the team a better deal in Los Angeles? If that is the case, it's incumbent on voters to make it come true, so San Diego can get rid of these scum. Best, Don Bauder

We definitely should all go out and vote.

I don't want to see the Chargers go - but I will not support public funds going to a football stadium. It's a ridiculous way to allocate public funds.

ImJustABill: It's especially ridiculous given the sad shape of San Diego infrastructure. Best, Don Bauder

ImJustABill: San Diego is the 17th largest market in the nation. There are 32 teams in the NFL. There is room for a team in San Diego, although one problem is the many things people can do other than spending $400 to $500 to take the family to a Chargers game. There are beaches, golf courses, hiking trails -- plenty of alternative things to do. Best, Don Bauder

There have been numbers floated out by the Chargers--something to the effect of "7,000 jobs will be created by the facility and another 17,000 workers will be involved in building the facility".

Doing a bit of homework, the current stadium--which I might add, is larger than the stadium proposed by the Chargers--has a total of around 2,500 people that work for a typical Charger game. A smaller stadium, with attached convention facility (which can't be used during football games), will have almost 3 TIMES AS MANY EMPLOYEES AS THE CURRENT STADIUM???!!! I don't think so. And the 17,000 number for construction workers to build the new facility? I sense a wee bit of fantasy in those numbers as well.

aardvark: In virtually every billionaire stadium scam, the number of jobs to be created will be grossly inflated, the stadium cost will be underestimated, government financing mechanisms will be concealed and understated. The leagues have a playbook that owners follow. Almost always there is a threat to depart if the voters don't come through.

The Chargers are using that threat now.

As far as employment goes, the vendors, hamburger flippers, etc. will just come over from Qualcomm so there will be no net gain, and as you point out, probably a net loss of jobs. There will be construction industry jobs during the period the stadium is built. That is how the teams woo and win the construction unions. Best, Don Bauder

All construction jobs are temporary jobs. The other jobs created are mostly part time low wage low/no benefit jobs. As usual the estimate of "jobs" is always blown out of proportion.

AlexClarke Yes, stadium jobs are part-time and low-paying. The estimate of jobs being created is ALWAYS ballooned by the billionaire owners. Best, Don Bauder

Apparently this will be a prop "C" just like the Petco vote was. The Chargers' propoganda is starting to roll. For your amusement / disgust....

"A yes vote on C will allow for the creation of a new facility that could host world-class events and conventions such as Super Bowls, NCAA Final Fours, NCAA title games, professional soccer, concerts, the X Games and a host of other high-profile events. And no general funds will be used to build this new venue as it will be paid for by the Chargers and the NFL as well as tourists and business travelers staying in San Diego hotels. "


ImJustABill: Typical billionaire lies. The Padres said they would host all these types of events. There have been few. The biggest lie is that tourists will pay for the stadium. The hundreds of millions of dollars that will go into subsidizing the stadium through the huge increase in the hotel tax would be used for critical infrastructure and neighborhood upgrades if the money weren't being stolen for a billionaire's stadium. Best, Don Bauder

ImJustABill: The Chargers scam is ballot measure C. Vote against the measure. Best, Don Bauder

Let Spanos buy land and build his own stadium. There are some nice tidal flats on the bay that could use improvement

Ponzi: I would say San Diego minus Spanos equals improvement. Best, Don Bauder

CaptainObvious: When Spanos got whipped in the voting over the L.A. location, it was obvious he is held in low esteem by other owners. The way to be even more unpopular among NFL owners is to pay for your own stadium. Best, Don Bauder

Tidal flats are scarce habitats. Stop using up every last scrap of our natural heritage and just screw up what is left in the greatest quantity.

Flapper: Good point: It is incumbent on San Diego to keep as much as natural as possible. This improves the quality of life for residents, and is a draw for tourists. Best, Don Bauder

I love football. But it is not more important to me than good streets, police and fire protection, open & free libraries, parks, beaches and other PUBLIC services. Chargers are not a public amenity, they are a private for-profit business. The money from the big public works and spillover from excessive state, county and city coffers has run dry. There is no change ($$$) to throw at these legacies of the 50's and 60's. There is a time when these once publicly supported spectacles begin using their own cash hoards for their stadiums. Stadiums are no longer the duty of the taxpayers to support. We have more important matters at hand than pig skin throwing millionaires and their billionaire owners.

Ponzi: Amen. Well said. Best, Don Bauder

Flapper: It appears you think Ponzi is Bruce Henderson.The person who calls himself Ponzi is one of the few commenters on this blog whose name I know. And his name is not Bruce Henderson. Best, Don Bauder

A footnote. Hollywood does not ask the public to finance their movie studios and movie sets. Hollywood and the music industry serve far more people, 24/7/365, than any sports franchise. Hollywood producers risk a great deal of money to bring their entertainment to the masses. On a regular basis they collectively spend billions of dollars developing and deploying stories and music for public consumption. Never asking for a dime in taxpayer money. (Sometimes they enjoy some tax credit and other considerations, but never on the platitudes of the NFL).

Sports are entertainment. People pay extra on their cable contracts to view this entertainment, just like they pay for HBO, Showtime, et al. Why on earth do the sports franchises think they are any different than the Hollywood establishment?

I don't know much about some of the other less viewed sports, but does the World Wrestling Federation, NASCAR or others ask to have their venues paid for by tax payers? The problem these days is there are so many entertainment options that having football fans pushing to have all taxpayers support a stadium is very unfair.

Most people, if you polled them, could give a s about football. And especially give a s about a franchise that has NEVER won a championship. The Chargers SUCK. Do not support them. It's like a one-star review and then they still think we should support them for mismanagement, bad (sometimes drug addled players), cut to late, don't recruit stars, it's like nobody is in the wheelhouse. Just Spanos. The biggest NFL loser of all time. Time for him to sell.

Ponzi: I imagine the movie industry wangles taxpayer handouts in one way or another, even if it is only diddling with its income taxes. Other sports get subsidies: soccer is now getting some, and the NFL, MLB, NBA, and NHL have been at the trough for decades.

It is time it stopped. Government has no business subsidizing private businesses, especially those owned by billionaires. Best, Don Bauder

Why do we build stadiums? Because we always have.

That argument, "because we always have..." reminds me of a story I tell to my clients.

There is a dinner party, the hostess has cut the ends off the roast. One of the guests asks "why did you cut the ends off the roast?" The hostess said "That's the way I've always done it, my mother did it."

The guest asked "Why did your mother do it?" The hostess replied "Because that's how her mother did it, my grandmother."

So after a few glasses of wine, the guest said... "You know, I'm really curious wy your grandmother cut the ends off the roast..." So the hostess said, "Well granny is 93, but it might be fun to call her and ask...."

She did. Granny answered. Granddaughter asked why she cut the ends off the roast. Granny laughed and said "Well in those days the oven was so small, you had to cut the ends off the roast to make it fit in the oven!"

Times change. Things change. Realities are different. Football franchises expecting the present to be like the 50's and 60' is unrealistic. The NFL would like people to behave like they did 50 years ago and build their palaces. But this is not Rome or Greece when great structures were built by the public. This is not the U.S. when we were flush with cash to support sports palaces. It's time to inform Spanos that if he wants to stay in San Diego, he needs to foot the bill. The entire bill for every penny that is needed to keep his entertainers on a field. It's his business, so it's his responsibility to rent or buy the stage for his show.

Ponzi: I agree completely. This sports subsidy scam really got rolling after World War II when Ford Frick, head of Major League Baseball declared that states and cities would have to support stadiums financially. Now we have a monster on our hands. We must kill it. Best, Don Bauder



"In virtually every billionaire stadium scam, the number of jobs to be created will be grossly inflated, the stadium cost will be underestimated, government financing mechanisms will be concealed and understated. The leagues have a playbook that owners follow. Almost always there is a threat to depart if the voters don't come through."

"The biggest lie is that tourists will pay for the stadium. The hundreds of millions of dollars that will go into subsidizing the stadium through the huge increase in the hotel tax would be used for critical infrastructure and neighborhood upgrades if the money weren't being stolen for a billionaire's stadium."

Is there anything more of substance to be said? If so, add it to this and CAMPAIGN! These kinds of scum-scams have succeeded over and over, largely because people believed that they would not.

There are 2 major lies being extensively pushed by the yes-on-C group:

  1. The money all comes from tourists. This won't cost San Diegans anything.

(LIE. Tax revenue is public money which belongs to San Diegans)

  1. The project is not a "Charger's Stadium". It's a convention center expansion and general purpose stadium.

LIE. The Charger's are the only group that want or need a "state of the art" stadium. Perhaps there will be a few big concerts or other events there but most of those could be held elsewhere. SDSU football, soccer games, big concerts, etc could all be held in a much less expensive renovated QCOM stadium. The convention center "expansion" won't do much to help keep comic-con (which is the only somewhat reasonable argument for expanding the convention center).

Renovating the Q will be more expensive than many people think. There are too many seats too far from the field, and it would be a major undertaking to fix that situation.

Turn it back into a riverbed. Make it into an artificial reef off-shore. In a few years that may be the way it ends up anyway.

Flapper: It will be under water some day but not in our lifetimes. Best, Don Bauder

aardvark: Too many seats too far from the field? SO WHAT? The team uses the stadium only ten times a year, unless there are playoff games. Fans having to strain their eyes a bit to see the game is hardly a major problem in San Diego, a city with a multibillion dollar infrastructure deficit, undermanned police and fire departments, a big pension deficit, etc. Best, Don Bauder

Don: Just letting you know that if the Q is to remain viable long-term, moving the seats closer to the field is an absolute necessity, and that will cost more money than most think.

aardvark: Again, moving seats closer to the field is NOT an "absolute necessity." Our family has watched baseball games deep into the upper deck-- about as far from the field as one could get. We enjoyed it. We watched Holiday Bowls from great distances and enjoyed the experience.

With all the problems that the city has -- massive infrastructure deficit, inadequate police and fire protection, fat pension deficit, etc. -- some Qualcomm seats being far from the field for ten games a year is not a priority. Best, Don Bauder

Don: You just proved my point, as they don't play baseball there any more. As a sports stadium, the Q was always a better venue for baseball than football. It is not an "absolute necessity", but it would make the Q a much better football facility.

I definitely agree with Don (well I usually do on the stadium matters).

Having better seating locations, luxury boxes, etc should not be considered "necessities".

Necessities mean any repairs or renovations needed to make the stadium safe and clean - necessary repair / replacement of any support structures, replace / repair any electrical / gas / plumbing that's not in perfect condition, make sure everything is painted and clean, replace any damaged or worn out seats.

If I'm not mistaken the cost for all that was estimated to be in the 100M - 200M range.

Then you are for the city spending that money, as the Chargers won't do it. They would remind you, or anyone else, that the Q is a city facility, and they are just a tenant.

aardvark I'm opposed to the city spending ANY money to subsidizing an NFL team. But I wouldn't be as outraged if the Chargers didn't expect a huge upgrade as a "necessity", as you seem to be characterizing it.

It's like the Chargers have use of a Toyota with 100,000 miles on it that needs a few repairs - and rather than just having the city pay for those repairs done they insist on getting a brand new top of the line Mercedes-Benz.

A huge improvement isn't a necessity in my opinion. Apparently in your opinion it is.

Trust me, I don't want the city to do anything to the Q. I would rather the Chargers just build their own new facility in Mission Valley. The odds on that happening on that are, it's safe to say, quite low.

aardvark: Dean Spanos is not admired by other NFL owners. That was proved when Kroenke got the votes, and Spanos got such a lousy deal economically he is trying to get San Diego to ante up. If Spanos paid for a new stadium himself, he would be held in contempt by the other owners. Best, Don Bauder

ImJustABill: On average, pro sports teams get a new, taxpayer-subsidized stadium every 25 years. That is an obscene waste of tax money. Best, Don Bauder

ImJustABill: The Chargers are now getting the equivalent of a new Mercedes every year. Now they want one every month. Best, Don Bauder

aardvark: If the city spent a maximum of $200 million on Qualcomm, and in return the Chargers agreed to pay their fair share (they now pay merely $2 million in rent), then a deal could be made in 2020. Best, Don Bauder

aardvark: A tenant paying only $2 million a year in rent. Actually, the Chargers are more like squatters. Best, Don Bauder

Don: They aren't paying anything. Rent credits reduce the rent to $0, since the city had to remove seats and make other alterations AFTER they added the seats for the Chargers in the mid-'90's due to ADA requirements.

ImJustABill: Qualcomm could use more rest rooms, particularly women's rest rooms. I agree with you that any important changes should enhance safety and cleanliness. I think these could be done for $100 million to $200 million, as you suggest. Best, Don Bauder

aardvark: Obviously, I am aware that Major League Baseball is not played at Qualcomm these days. I hardly see how the observation strengthens your case.

My case is this: If some Qualcomm fans are too far away from the field, SO WHAT? If the Chargers agree to stay at Qualcomm, where they are making bushels of money, then Spanos can pay for rearranging seats so some can see the game more clearly. Best, Don Bauder

Don: We can just agree to disagree. The place was built to handle multiple sports--unfortunately for the city, it was a much better facility for baseball than football.

Fundamentally I will agree to disagree with your inference that a huge improvement to the stadium is a necessity.

If you want to stay structural repairs, plumbing replacement, electrical work are necessities those are reasonable argument.

If you want to say moving seats is a necessity that's not reasonable in my opinion.

I honestly don't even see your argument. Do people have worse vision than they did 50 years ago? Have the players gotten smaller? Has the ball gotten smaller than 50 years ago? Why is it a necessity to have better seats than there were originally?

Don: We would be going in circles at this point if I continue to respond. I have spent way too much time in that facility to know that the place had better sight lines for baseball than for football. Always had, and always will. This may temper our discussion a bit, as I have absolutely no intention of voting for either the Briggs "plan" or the Chargers "plan".

aardvark: The Union-Tribune had an excellent column today (Sunday). The thesis was that the Chargers' plan for a new stadium will be called on the ballot the "Downtown Stadium Initiative." There will be no mention of the word "tax," which is poison on any ballot. By contract, Cory Briggs' initiative will be called "Tax and Facilities Initiative."

The city attorney's office had the chutzpah to claim that those two names were not selected to sway the vote in favor of the Chargers. That is a typical lie of that office. Of course those names were selected to give the Chargers a leg up with voters. This is so typical of San Diego and the city attorney's office. Best, Don Bauder

Don: I did see that this a.m. So Briggs is going to sue, and I have to admit, in this case, I am all for his lawsuit.

aardvark: The stadium now known as Qualcomm was an architectural gem when it was built. If some improvements could be made at modest cost, it could still be called that. Best, Don Bauder

aardvark: In the mid-1990s, the Chargers agreed to stay at Qualcomm until 2020 if the stadium would be made more accommodating to football. It was. Of course, the Chargers broke their promise in a couple of years, but at least at one point, the team believed the stadium as now configured would be fine for football. Best, Don Bauder

The "accommodation" was mainly adding seats. Nothing more. Also, it was written into their lease that the Chargers could leave before 2020, but only if they paid a fee (which in 2017, is $12.575 million). The fee is on a sliding scale, which drops to $0 after 2020. Ironically, that fee come nowhere near to recovering the cost of the expansion. Another fine contract "negotiated" by the city.

"Fans having to strain their eyes a bit to see the game is hardly a major problem in San Diego".... particularly since so many watch the games on TV because they can't afford tickets and edibles at the stadium.

ImJustABill: Remember all those concerts, NCAA tournament games, ad nauseam, that would be held in Petco Park. It hasn't happened to any significant degree. So would it happen in a stadium right close to Petco? Of course not. Best, Don Bauder

There are a few events. The city isn't going to just the stadium go idle - that would be stupid.

These stadiums are mostly for the use of the teams - maybe 80% or 90%? The fact that there are some other uses of the stadium is over-exaggerated by the sports teams.

(Like my use of Lochte-ish "over-exaggerated")?

ImJustABill: Yes, there are FEW events, as you note. And that's just the point. So Petco never came through with all these extra events. It would be folly to say that the Chargers will do so at a location close to Petco. But the Chargers are accustomed to telling lies. Best, Don Bauder

Flapper: I am flattered that you think my statement should be repeated over and over. Unfortunately, though, it won't fit as a bumper sticker. Best, Don Bauder

Ok, let's get hot on the bumper-stickers and protest signs.

Dis Chargers! Charger-Shock! StayDeUmm . . . Ban the OverChargers!

etc, etc.

Flapper: Those are good slogans. You should be in the ad business. Best, Don Bauder

Flapper: "Ad nausea" is an affliction I suffer every day. And my first job out of grad school was in advertising. In 1960 I was one of those "Mad Men," but I worked in Chicago, not on Madison Ave. in New York. My B school undergrad major was marketing. Ugh. Best, Don Bauder

Pobrecito! Scarred for life. Prostitution is honorable in its honesty; pimping is inexcusable in its dishonesty.

Flapper: I don't find prostitution honorable in any sense, but at the same time I realize it isn't going to go away. If the cops cleared El Cajon Boulevard of all the hookers, they would not leave San Diego. They would just go elsewhere in San Diego. Best, Don Bauder

I'm just wondering....If the new so called convadium is approved it will be one of, if not the smallest, NFL venues. Why would NFL owners, the vast majority being billionaires who know how to make a buck, ever consider it as the site of their overhyped premier event.

If the did who'd be footing the bill for the substandard temporary seating needed to sardine in enough seats to make more money for the owner? Is that spelled out somewhere?

What about those fantasy numbers touted by the NFL on taxes generated by Super Bowls?

It's too bad we can't use those fantasy dollars to resurface our dilapidated streets, replace our rapidly aging concrete-aspestos water pipes (yes we have miles of aspestos lined fresh water pipes), replace the deteriorating and failed storm water and sewer systems, maintain and refurbish our parks their structures and our beaches.

So go ahead vote to give a billionaire owner and millionaire players huge tax subsidies. But consider this it's not just for this year, but every year for the foreseeable future. Remember the 1997 bonds used to expand the stadium. WE ARE STILL PAYING for those bonds. The expansion the Charger ownership demanded under the threat of leaving San Diego. Sound familiar San Diego?

JustWondering: Good points. The Chargers are throwing out ridiculous claims for their proposed convadium. One is that tourists will be paying the tax. Consider this: where would the hotel tax receipts go if they were not used to subsidize the Chargers? They could go to rebuilding the city's rundown infrastructure, fix up shabby neighborhoods, create affordable housing -- critical projects such as these.

But if the money goes to the Chargers, the city's infrastructure will remain in very bad shape. In a city with huge infrastructure and pension deficits, Hotel tax money should go for such projects. It should also go to promoting San Diego tourism -- the original intended use of the funds. Money is fungible. Best, Don Bauder

If there is some small justice to that tax on tourists, the money should go to providing them a safe, clean city with paved streets, adequate police and emergency service protection, and drinkable water, at the very least. For a long time the guests have been whacked a tax that didn't provide clean parks, paved streets, or protection from crime. So, the tourists need to help pay for amenities that they enjoy, while at the same time they get what they pay for.

Visduh: If the Chargers get all that hotel tax money, you can forget about San Diego being a safe, clean city. Best, Don Bauder

Heck, I've already forgotten about San Diego being clean or particularly safe. That is one of the reasons I live far from SD city limits.

Visduh: But even though you live far away, I am sure you would like to see the city have good streets, sewers, a reliable and affordable water supply, etc. Best, Don Bauder

I'm opposed to handing out corporate welfare to crass, self-serving billionaires, and I'll be voting against the Chargers initiative.

But I want honest debate about this or any other political controversy, and that means I want honesty from my own side, too. Which is why I'm troubled. Help me understand something Don. I keep hearing the claim that if the hotel tax increase isn't enough to cover the bond payments then the city will be on the hook.

E.g., from nodowntownstadium.com: "Additionally, if the proposed hotel tax increase does not meet expectations, because of lost conventions or an economic downturn, the City would have to cut neighborhood services or raise taxes and fees to pay for the stadium bonds, or default on the debt the City would incur under the Spanos plan."

Yet if you read the initiative itself, it seems to expressly state the opposite:

"In no event shall the General Fund of the City be responsible for the payment of debt service on Bonds or payments pursuant to any Financing Agreements executed and delivered or issued by the City or the Governmental Entity for the purposes and uses set forth in this section. In no event shall the issuance of Bonds or Financing Agreements involve the pledge of the faith and credit of the City, but shall be limited obligations payable solely from specified revenues, moneys and assets." (p. 88)

So which is it? Would the city of San Diego be co-signing the loan or not?

I'm certainly no expert but I don't see how the Chargers can just declare the city not responsible for payment unless the Chargers specifically state that they are responsible. Is there text in the initiative which specifically says that the Chargers are completely responsible for coming up with any extra money needed if the TOT falls below expectations?

ImJustABill: I am not aware of such a statement. Even if there is such a statement in there, would it be followed? Best, Don Bauder

DionV: How can the Chargers guarantee that general fund money would not be responsible for debt service on the bonds? The money would have to come from somewhere. The city council would make the decision. Money is money. It is fungible. If the city is about to default on the bonds, it will have to find the money somewhere. The Chargers saying it would not come from the general fund is meaningless.

So the answer to your question is: believe "nodowntownstadium.com," not the Chargers. Best, Don Bauder

The trick is understanding the loopholes and direct and indirect results. The so called "general fund" is the name of the fund which pays for most, but not all of, the day-to-day city operations. There are general fund departments, for example, police and fire. But there are many other "funds" within the city. For example, the water utilities is an "enterprise fund" department. Its operating budget comes from renenues paid by ratepayers.
Then there are bonds....no city has a billion in cash laying around so for projects like this, so the city sells bonds ultimately GUARANTEED in this case by collected Transit Occupancy Tax or TOT. Currently TOT supports many city programs if the TOT falls short, then the money has to come from other city fund sources. One such source is the city's emergency fund.

The bottom line here....two points ... This is a complex financial undertaking, the city's history or, if you like, batting record to use a mixed sport metafor, is dismal in such matters AND that's with using and paying for so called EXPERTS.

Secondly, bonds are guaranteed by taxpayers, not politicians. If you fail to pay the bonds your credit rating goes in the toilet and all those infrastructure plans you were going to finance with new bonds just became way more expensive or just can't be done. We just went through several years of not being able to access the bond markets and have a billion dollar backlog of deferred projects.

Those are some of the details conveniently left out of the Charger propaganda campaign.

I'm not an expert in the issuance of bonds. I had a $50 savings bond once when I was twelve, that's about the extent of my experience with them.

But as much as I appreciate your response, I'm afraid it doesn't really answer the question. The language of the initiative on pg. 88 pretty clearly states "In no event shall the issuance of Bonds or Financing Agreements involve the pledge of the faith and credit of the City, but shall be limited obligations payable solely from specified revenues, moneys and assets."

The inference is that the bond issuers putting up the money will agree to be paid back only from the revenue from the increase in hotel tax, and won't require the city to be liable if those revenues fall short. True, the text only mentions the general fund as being off limits, but the fact that the city will not be required to pledge its "faith and credit" seems to override any possibility of the city being forced to pay any shortfalls out of any other funds.

Am I missing something?

I have no idea how these things work. Is it common practice for a city to issue bonds that can only be paid back from one specific revenue source, under the conditions that if that revenue source falls short the bond-holders don't get their payment?

ImJustABill: But a city defaulting on its bonds is in deep doo-doo with the financial community. Defaults bring long-term pain -- very high interest rates on future bonds, for example. The city may resort to tricky accounting to avoid defaulting. Best, Don Bauder

Plus, wouldn't it make it harder / more expensive to get bonds issued with more restrictive terms? It still seems to me that if the Chargers were serious about making sure no tax money is used other than the 4% TOT increase that the Chargers would specifically promise to cover any shortfalls for that case. I don't think they do (please correct me if I'm wrong).

ImJustABill: You are right. The Chargers should state that if the city cannot service the bonds, the team will do so.

Would the team make such a promise? Of course not. The Chargers initiative does not even state that if it wins the vote, it will build a stadium. It will only have the right to do so.

As you can see, the Chargers initiative is a massive scam. Best, Don Bauder

DionV: I will say it again. The city receives money from various sources, particularly taxes. That money can go into several pots. One is the general fund. If the hotel tax does not generate enough money to cover bond payments, the Chargers claim the money will not come from the general fund. Maybe it comes from other pots. Then those pots have a shortfall. No matter what, there is pain because pots have to be emptied to cover those bond payments.

If the city is about to default on its bonds, it will be panic time. It will scramble with pencils and erasers. Money that is said to come out of one pot may well come, in part, from the general fund pot.

If the Chargers were serious, they would say that if there is not enough money to make bond payments, the team will make those payments. But I am not aware that the team has made such a promise. Best, Don Bauder

Sadly, the argument is there is always enough tax money. If there isn't just raise 'new' taxes. And to avoid defaulting on the bonds the city will tell us there is no other choice.

This is another fact that should be repeated, ad infinitum!

JustWondering: if the Chargers pull off this billionaire stadium scam, there will probably have to be new taxes in the city. Don Bauder

Unfortunately, your prescience is showing, To avoid defaulting, the city will have to raise the money somehow. Best, Don Bauder

BTW DionV you may be right - I honestly don't know much about the details of municipal funding or financial laws and I'm just going on my non-expert reading of your points and the text of the initiative.

But the Chargers previously promised that they would stay in San Diego until 2020 and they found loopholes to get out of that promise. So my hunch is that they probably have loopholes to get out of other things if they need to.

ImJustABill: Excellent point. When Qualcomm (then Jack Murphy Stadium) was rehabbed in the late 1990s, the Chargers promised to remain until 2020. Within a year or two, the team was angling for a new stadium, and trying to get to Los Angeles. Best, Don Bauder

While I am no expert either, I do understand words have meanings. Sadly, bond holders may not agree to those meaning or may dispute them especially when large sums of money become the overarching issue of the dispute. That means the Courts, based upon the skills of arguing attorneys not ballot language, ultimately decide their meanings. Once again from a historical perspective the City's record in such disputes is not a winning one. So in reality we are asking the taxpayers to backstop well over a billion dollars to a privately owned business. Seems nuts to me when we have so many pressing issues that really affect the quality of life in San Diego.

So if there isn't extensive precedent for these types of terms the true meaning of the terms won't really be decided until it's gone through the court system.

It kind of sounds to me like the Chargers put some wording in the measure which sounds good but doesn't really mean much.

ImJustABill: Correct. Since the team does not promise to build a stadium if it wins the vote, the entire initiative lacks meaning. Best, Don Bauder

JustWondering: It seems nuts to you because it IS nuts. Best, Don Bauder

I think what you're missing is that it is the City of San Diego, not the Chargers, which will issue the bonds. The issuer of bonds will be responsible for the debt service. If the 6% increase proves insufficient to pay the debt service, it will be the issuer of the bonds who pays for what is owed. And the General Fund is still paying on the bonds for Petco Park and the Qualcomm upgrades.

BTW, the same is true for any bonds issued for the parking garage in Balboa Park from which parking fee revenue is supposed to pay debt service. Debt service for these bonds also will fall back on the General Fund.

JustWondering: Yours is an excellent statement. I wish we could be sure that all the voters will read it. Best, Don Bauder

JustWondering: You don't believe the Chargers initiative will be honest, do you? You are too smart for that. Best, Don Bauder

Joseph Oppenheim: Don't count on the convadium hosting NCAA finals, rock concerts, blah, blah, blah. That argument is hauled out whenever a billionaire owner is begging for public funds. The Padres said Petco would be used for all these extras. But that hasn't been very successful. Now the football team, which would be located right near Petco, is using the same pitch.

Yes, San Diego has problems. Subsidizing the Padres is one of them. It's still going on -- there is a charge every year. So how would subsidizing the Chargers help San Diego? The city needs work on its streets, roads, sewers, water -- you name it. Why waste money on a stadium that would be used about ten times a year by the team, and infrequently for other uses? Best, Don Bauder

David Crossley: Yes, the claim that "tourists will pay for it" is a baldfaced lie. If the hotel tax money weren't going to subsidize a billionaire's football team, it could be used for many appropriate things in the city. Best, Don Bauder

Fred Jacobsen: Yes, the Chargers will plan for some kind of last-minute hoax. The city should be ready for it. Best, Don Bauder

"The City" probably is. The citizens should be ready for a last-minute hoax (in addition to the devious word-twisting) and throw the liars out of office.

Flapper: But before the liars are thrown out of office, the Chargers should be told they will get absolutely no public money for a stadium. Best, Don Bauder

Its past due for a new set of liars, right ?

Murphyjunk: You have it pinned down: one bunch of liars leaves the council, only to be replaced by another set of prevaricators. Best, Don Bauder

Laughabley spongeabley fungible for which it is not designed. Good word good Donald.

shirleyberan: "Fungible" is a very good word. It means freely exchangeable or replaceable. In this sense, the hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars going to a billionaire's stadium will come out of some other NECESSARY product or service. If you vote for subsidizing a billionaire's stadium, you are voting for no improvement in streets and sewers, fewer libraries, continued inadequate fire and police forces, etc. Best, Don Bauder

Exactly! If the voters approve the boondoggle of tax dollars then paying for it becomes the taxpayers problem and not the Spanos family, the NFL, or the billionaires who run it. When no one books the undersized and separate convention center 'expansion' the taxpayers still pay to maintain the empty building.

So far the silence of our so called elected leaders is deafening. Our Mayor purposely ignores it. However, when the bill comes due with TOT revenue way short of the promised mark he will say his hands are tied. He's just following the will of the people and the bonds must be paid. Our council members are following his lead because no one wants to have the powerful NFL against them come election time. And our "friends" in County government, we can count on them to make up the shortage? Yeah, sure, they'll just bring wheelbarrows of money right over. No, they'll say the same thing ...it was the will of the city of San Diego taxpayers, not the 'county' taxpayers.

Yes, 'Fungible' is a great word to describe how this boondoggle will be paid for. Here are two more words to be used for the 'Convadium'. Gullible to describe the voters who support it. Destitute to describe the city we live in if this Convadium for billionaires is supported with our tax dollars over the next 30 years.

JustWondering; And when Comic-Con, which has clearly stated it does not favor the convadium, leaves San Diego for another location, the guilty will pretend that it was someone else's fault. Best, Don Bauder

Don — It will be interesting to see who if ANY of our elected officials actually get real vocal AGAINST any new $tadium that the Chargers do not self fund! Let all those that support the DEAL list what projects in their District will not be funded because the money was diverted to pay for another $tadium, that should get the voters attention!

Perhaps we can Save $D from the Chargers!

$an Diego has been CHARGED far to much already and it is now time to Say NO to yet another billion dollar rip off!

IMO The Chargers fans would be far better off if Qualcomm continued to be used since then they could "tailgate" which is one of the perks that they will lose at the new $tadium.

Founder: The Chargers should renew their lease at Qualcomm in 2020. And this time, the city should demand equitable terms. (The Chargers now pay a minuscule $2 million a year in rent.)

Billionaire owners of sports teams expect taxpayers to pay for a new stadium every 25 years, on average. But college stadiums last 80 or 90, even 100 years or more. Sure, they are enlarged, and maintenance is kept up. But stadiums can and do last that long. Best, Don Bauder

Flapper: Absolutely. Councilmember Cate is doing an excellent job opposing the attempted Chargers' theft of taxpayer money. He deserves support. So does Barbara Bry, who is apparently a shoo-in for council. She has come out against the billionaire stadium scam. Best, Don Bauder

"$an Diego has been CHARGED far to much already and it is now time to Say NO to yet another billion dollar rip off!"

Bumper sticker: DUMP the OVERCHARGERS!

Flapper: That is a good bumper sticker. Several good ones have been suggested on this blog. Best, Don Bauder

Here's another quote that should be repeated ad infinitum:

"If you vote for subsidizing a billionaire's stadium, you are voting for no improvement in streets and sewers, fewer libraries, continued inadequate fire and police forces, etc."

It's called ROBBING our streets, sewers, libraries, fire and police services to pay the FAT CAT crooked Spanos and his GANG!

BUT just jawboning it here just dissipates our energy. "We" need to GET BUSY, and, regrettably, "get organized," and GET THE MESSAGE TO THE PEOPLE WHO DON'T GET IT YET, BUT WILL BE OUTRAGED WHEN THEY DO!

That means as few as possible talking points, maybe even just the one above--at least for starters.

Dear Councilmember _

I want you to VOCIFEROUSLY and VIGOROUSLY tell THE TRUTH about how the "$tadium deal" will create a GIANT SUCKING SOUND that will ROB US by diverting funds away from our police, fire protection, streets, utilities, libraries, and parks, not to mention the staff time diverted from PRIORITY WORK, and critical staff positions not filled.

You must also come clean about any and all CONTRIBUTIONS, direct and indirect, that are in the remotest way associated with this "deal," the amount of your energy and that of your staff diverted in the service of the stadium issue. You must also come clean about the fact that this multi-billion-dollar handout to billionaires will mean HIGHER TAXES and/or ADDITIONAL TAXES (however well-disguised) in the future.

You will be judged on your honesty, and actual PERFORMANCE, not your hype. Talk is cheap, and WE'RE TIRED OF POLITICAL "RHETORIC" (aka "BS").

And show your support for Councilman Cate, who does get it, and is now being targeted for attacks by the Chargers.


ImJustABill: Amen. Support Cate and (shoo-in) candidate Barbara Bry. Keep pressure on the mayor. If any office holder caves in to the Chargers, investigate whether there has been a bribe. Bumper sticker: REMEMBER STALLINGS! Best, Don Bauder

Flapper: That is an excellent suggestion. And an excellent proposed letter to council members. Best, Don Bauder

Flapper: Get as many people as you know to sign that excellent letter you composed. Best, Don Bauder

Flapper; Yes, Vociferously and vigorously tell the truth about this billionaire stadium scam. When you realize that the Chargers intend to rake in the naming and advertising payments, you will conclude that Spanos and family could be putting in NO MONEY AT ALL. Best, Don Bauder

Anybody: Any suggested changes to the draft letter (above) to the City Council Members, the Mayor, and other elected offals?

Flapper: You, ImJustABill and several others on this blog have the creativity to help compose the letter and also come up with bumper stickers. Best, Don Bauder

Founder: Good one. That would fit on a bumper sticker. Best, Don Bauder

Joseph Oppenheim: It's true that local politicians have ignored important infrastructure. That is why the infrastructure deficit is several billion dollars. But there is a lot of public pressure for improving the infrastructure. The mayor ran on an infrastructure platform. Finally, I believe something can be done -- but not if the city gives hundreds of millions to the Chargers.

If the mayor backs the stadium initiative, people should immediately work hard to get him out of office. Best, Don Bauder

Jeff Allen:Excellent point. Stadiums per se are lousy investments. That's why billionaire sports team owners want to pass the cost to taxpayers. However, owning a team is enormously profitable. That's why you can't get figures from leagues. Best, Don Bauder

Founder's bumper sticker is very good, but we need one good one like that, but a little shorter. Streets, not $tadiums?

We need to craft a better letter to the "Council" than mine, too.

Or something graphic, such as the international negative symbol over OVERCHARGER$?

Flapper: There are a couple of suggestions right here that would make good bumper stickers. Best, Don Bauder

Flapper: Those are good suggestions. Best, Don Bauder

On second thought, it sucks. I don't think the right people will "get" the pun. Just the symbol over Charger$?

Anyway, PLEASE, everybody, write your "Councilmembers" Supervisors, and the Mayor.

Flapper: Here is a possibility: "Streets -- not billionaire gifts." Best, Don Bauder

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