Here we are in July, as the major league baseball season approaches it’s mid-point and the NFL inches closer to it’s membership opening training camps. As usual, YOUR Padres (Ted Leitner’s allegation; not mine) are muddling through yet another season of slap-stick play with a roster of cast-offs and perpetual list of “prospects.” Their long-disinterested owner, John Moores, impatiently waits to cash out and complete the fleecing of the team’s fan base, no doubt smirking with delight as he has since the day he and Larry Lucchino grifted Petco Park from the city’s tax-payers. The O'Malley's can't arrive soon enough!
Meanwhile, the Padres previously friendly confines, known in these circles by a host of names including, but not limited to, San Diego Stadium, San Diego Jack Murphy Stadium, Jack Murphy Field at Qualcomm Stadium, Qualcomm Stadium, and most recently for a two week period in December, Snapdragon Stadium, remains the home of the Chargers. But for how long? And when the 35-year old relic is eventually vacated by the Bolts, will it be due to a replacement facility finally being constructed, or a result of the team opting to leave for greener (and perhaps Field Turf) pastures in a city where the NFL currently has not imbedded one of it’s gargantuan footprints?
The stadium question and the fate of the Chargers have been topics of speculation as long as the Harry Potter motion picture series and have not advanced a baby-step. Oh sure, plenty of non-specific babble from city and county politicos, and worse blather from Dean Spanos’ personal stadium spokes-hole, Mark Fabiani, he who possesses a tongue every bit as forked as it was when employed by the Clinton administration. The rhetoric has been gaseous. More posturing by both sides has been promoted than can be found between teenagers at a high school prom. So many hot air trial balloons have been floated that our local skies resemble those of Albuquerque in October! The reasons due to this stalemate are obvious. Residents of the city and county, both of whom in the eyes of the Chargers and city/county politicians should be the primary funding parties for a new stadium, will almost certainly thumb their nose at any type of tax proposal. They not only are fed up with the dysfunction in Sacramento and Washington, but also haven’t forgotten the classic bait-and-switch pulled on them by Moores. Ask them to again hand over a portion of their ever-shrinking disposable income to a family worth over $1 billion? The public’s thought process would seem to be: “Fool me once; shame on you! Fool me twice, well…..ain’t gonna happen!”
Los Angeles continues to pine the NFL and just about anyone who will listen, that they want a return of the NFL to their smoggy domain. The Phillip Anschutz and Ed Roski groups keep trumpeting their respective less-than-fully-baked development plans, which pretty much receive the same span of attention as does Kim Kardashian when announcing she has duped yet another hapless beau. Like most every other municipality in this country, the city and county of Los Angeles are creeping toward insolvency and can’t possibly re-direct funds to constructing a play-pen for a billionaire owner and his millionaire cast of Toy Story characters. Then again, there isn’t a more incompetent narcissist in this state than LA Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, so I’d better revisit my tarot cards!
The bottom line is this: Qualcomm Stadium needs to be replaced or significantly upgraded not just for the benefit of revenue enhancement (read: seat license rights, more luxury suites and overall increased ticket prices) for the Chargers, but to also reenter the Super Bowl rotation AND possibly BCS championship bowl series. Our economy relies heavily on tourism, and there are no fans in this country that are more passionate about and will spend money on their sport than those who follow college and pro football. I firmly believe a blend of funds in the form of a temporary half to one percent county sales tax increase, corporate sponsorship/donations, Spanos family investment and NFL capital can achieve the goal of keeping the Chargers here. To be fair, the Spanos family has been beyond patient and extended it’s hand to broker a deal. Is there any civic and political leader here with the will and vision to grasp it?