The Chargers said they would release financial plans today (March 30) for their proposed downtown "convadium" — a combined football stadium and convention center. But the team's statement is a joke. So many details are missing, and so many assumptions are absurd, that there is no way to judge what the convadium will cost. So why bother with financing plans?
The Chargers seem to be counting on sales of personal seat licenses, even though they have denied their applicability in San Diego for at least five years. Luxury skyboxes, also unworkable to any significant degree, are still in the picture.
The team doesn't know whether the stadium will be on top of the convention center or next to it. The former would be very expensive, the Chargers allow, but there are no specifics.
Critical transportation questions are not addressed, despite widespread concern over traffic jams and parking. The team won't say how much time and money it will take to move the downtown bus terminal.
The money would come from boosting the hotel tax to 16.5 percent — one of the highest in the nation. How much will the higher tax reduce convention-center usage? Are the current recipients of the hotel tax, such as arts and culture groups, protected?
The convadium would be owned and operated by the city, but the Chargers will get credit for naming rights, which could easily exceed $175 million. This is preposterous, although, sadly, conventional in billionaire stadium scams these days.
"To what extent have the Chargers identified any benefits to the people of San Diego?" says former San Diego councilmember Bruce Henderson, a transactional lawyer. "It doesn't say the Chargers will sign a lease; there is not a commitment by the Chargers to do anything, even build the stadium. This has zero substance. This amounts to zero benefit to the people of San Diego and considerable potential benefit to the Chargers."
Henderson wonders how the Chargers, who are effectively paying no rent at Qualcomm now, can finance $15 milion a year in rent at a new stadium.
Other naysayers to the plan include city-council candidate Ray Ellis, who said in a statement, “We must put the priorities of our 1.4 million residents ahead of the interests of billionaires seeking taxpayer subsidies.”
San Diego County Taxpayers Association boardmember April Boling also issued a statement that reads in part, “The Chargers plan would raise taxes for a billionaire NFL owner to pay for a football stadium that would generate tens of millions dollars more a year in profits for the owner, yet the owner has little to no skin in the game.”
The Chargers intend to give more details tomorrow (March 31) in a legal notice in the Union-Tribune.
(updated 3/30, 10:20 a.m.)