NFL’s Las Vegas Chargers?

While Ed Roski, Jr, part owner of the  LA Kings and LA Lakers, is actively looking to build an NFL stadium in the  City of Industry, today’s Union Tribune reports that the San Diego Chargers are undecided as to where and when to depart Qualcomm stadium as their lease expires in 2020. There is an option in the lease for early departure, at a sizable cost, should they elect to bail out.

As staff-writer Matthew Hall states, the team prefers remaining in San Diego County. Other possibilities are Las Vegas, San Antonio and the City of Industry.

Representatives of MORR/CURE will be monitoring any future move that entails the use of eminent domain or redevelopment agency or city funds that place a private party interest over the needs of the community where said stadium is to be built.
While we do not fault these mega millionaires for asking, we fault the ego driven city council members who provide massive incentives for these private sector gambles. If a stadium pencils out then why do these team owners, whose pockets are somewhat deeper than ours, line up at public troughs for funding?

Following is a slice of today’s Union Tribune story. The full text link will be at the end of the post.
Chargers keeping local options on table

The San Diego Chargers will play at Qualcomm Stadium this season, starting with tonight’s first exhibition game. Beyond that, the team won’t make any guarantees about where it will tangle with opponents.

More than three years into a stadium search, the Chargers’ toughest foe remains a bad economy that has stifled lending.

Mark Fabiani, the Chargers’ point man on the search, said the effort will continue despite the economy and the team’s persistent failure to find a suitable spot in San Diego County.

“Given where we sit, it’s unlikely that a plan surfaces before the end of the season,” he said. “We certainly hope to be doing what we’re doing next year, which is working on San Diego County. That’s our hope. That’s our goal.”

Andrew Zimbalist, an economist at Smith College in Northampton, Mass., who examines the sports business, said the duration of the search poses problems for the team to relocate within San Diego County.

“If it was going to happen, you’d think it would have happened already, so I think there’s good reason to suspect this is an insuperable challenge for them,” Zimbalist said.

The team began asking for a new stadium in 2002, saying Qualcomm Stadium, now 42 years old, created too little revenue for the team to stay competitive. The team initially considered building a new stadium on the current 166-acre site in Mission Valley, but contends the bad economy and building bust made that impossible. It started searching for a new site in 2006.

The Chargers’ lease expires in 2020 and gives the team from Feb. 1 to May 1 every year to notify the city of an intent to move. The team’s cost to break its lease is $54.6 million next year but the amount falls to $25.8 million in 2011, which has led to speculation that if the team departs, it would do so in two years.

There is talk of luring one or even two NFL teams — from Jacksonville, Buffalo, Minnesota, St. Louis, Oakland, San Francisco or San Diego — to that stadium.

Locally, the Chargers don’t have a lot of options at the moment.

•In San Diego, Fabiani continues to meet with the Mayor’s Office and the City Attorney’s Office to give updates on the Chargers’ search and toss around ideas. Fabiani said whenever he discusses possible sites with anyone, a downtown stadium comes up. “It’s the first thing people talk about,” he said. “You tell them what you’re working on, and everyone asks about downtown.”

Fabiani said he remains optimistic that the team will stay in San Diego County and takes heart that Chargers President Dean Spanos hasn’t thrown in the towel.

“Hopefully,” Fabiani said, “once the economy turns around, we will have secured a publicly acceptable site, have a financing plan that people are comfortable with and we’ll be able to go into the credit markets.”

Gilbert close. At the end of the day how many “new jobs” are created by a dozen home games a year, including exhibition and playoff games, and a few weekend concerts?

About Larry Gilbert