Girard claimed that the city's negotiators had reached "a middle ground" in their dealings with Moores. Among the concessions the city had made were "most significantly...negotiating for a special sign district around the [proposed downtown] ballpark that would allow the City and the Padres to implement certain advertising that will generate revenue for both the City and the Padres."
Cloaked in secrecy by Girard's claim of "attorney-client privilege," none of the specific terms of the concessions regarding the Padres' Qualcomm lease were made public by the council. And the concessions were never considered in public session. Instead, the council tacitly agreed that, for public purposes, the city manager and city attorney would be delegated with the task of reaching and signing an agreement with Moores.
A November 22 memo from the city's Redevelopment Agency regarding the sign-district proposal was leaked to the Union-Tribune, which reported it on December 10. "Under this proposal, the Padres would have the right to develop and own the rights to an official district name and logo," the paper quoted the memo as saying. It went on to quote Padres executive Jack McGrory, a former city manager, as saying that "district naming rights would apply to 60 blocks and would be a positive addition. This is not that different from what's being done in a lot of other areas of the city." There was no mention in the story of the Qualcomm concessions.
A day later, on December 11, some but not all of the details of the council's secret negotiations over the Qualcomm lease were leaked by someone to U-T columnist Diane Bell. "The S.D. City Council and the Padres have been secretly haggling over the Padres' continued use of Qualcomm Stadium until the new ballpark is built. The Padres know better than to ask for a ticket guarantee, but they are demanding concessions," Bell reported.
"Word has it," she continued, "they want the city's share (10 percent) of sky-box licensing revenue from the Chargers, a cap at $25.5 million on the city's 10 percent take of Padres' ticket revenue, use of the city's sky box for several games, and continued free rent in their office space near the stadium. They also want to collect fees (for 10 years) for 3500 parking spaces at Qualcomm for people who leave their cars there and take the trolley to the downtown ballpark.
"These requests and more are designed to offset the negative impact on the Padres of the Chargers' new stadium lease. Sitting in on these hush-hush discussions, as he has in times gone by, is Jack McGrory. But, unlike the old days, former city manager McGrory is on the Padres' side of the table now. The city isn't speaking publicly on the issue yet but will accept public comments at Tuesday's meeting before going into closed session to discuss it."
Thus -- more than six months after the city council, acting in secret session, actually authorized many of the Qualcomm concessions to Moores -- was the public given a hint of what was going on.
The U-T's Bell failed to mention a number of other still-pending concessions, among them Moores's demand back in June of 1999 to place large billboards on the back of the two so-called "Tri-Vision" video screens flanking the stadium scoreboard. That proposal had been placed on the "Additional Issues Not Accepted by City" list adopted by the council in its secret June 29, 1999, meeting. The Tri-Visions were also missing from the list of 15 proposed concessions furnished to the council by Assistant City Attorney Les Girard in his secret November 30, 1999 memo. But the "Tri-Vision" proposal was far from dead. It would ultimately prove to be of major benefit to Bell's employer, the Union-Tribune.
On December 14, 1999, despite urgings from the San Diego Taxpayers Association and others to delay its vote, the city council voted to push ahead with bonds for the new downtown ballpark. There was no public discussion of the Qualcomm concessions and no further mention of them in the Union-Tribune. The newspaper did, however, use the occasion to editorialize in favor of the deal.
On January 28, 2000, the paper reported that, based on information contained in "more than 1000 pages of documents released this week by Mayor Susan Golding...the Padres would continue to collect 10 percent of the sky-box money the city gets from the Chargers, which Padres Executive Vice President Jack McGrory estimated at $400,000 a year."
(In fact, according to Assistant City Attorney Les Girard's secret memo to the city council dated June 30, 1999, McGrory's estimate of the sky-box revenue lost to the city under the deal was on the low side. In June 1999, Girard estimated it to be close to $470,000 a year, though in his November 1999 memo, he dropped the estimate to $400,000. None of those figures saw the light of day.)
The Union-Tribune story added that "the city would allow the Padres to use the city sky box for up to 40 games a year. And the Padres may raise parking fees above $6 and pocket the extra revenue. McGrory said the Padres get 37.5 percent of stadium-advertising revenue, but the Chargers currently have control over sales."
There was still no mention of billboards on the back of the "Tri-Visions." On Monday, January 31, 2000, the council finally voted in public to approve the lease, but in a way that shielded it from political fallout. No details about the negotiations were provided in the public documents, and the terms were reported only partially by the Union-Tribune, apparently based on briefings by Padres executive McGrory.
The actual specifics were contained in an obscure document, dated January 3, 2000, entitled "Memorandum of Agreement For the Extension of the Partial use and Occupancy Agreement for Qualcomm Stadium." The memorandum was signed by City Manager Michael T. Uberuaga and McGrory. Their signatures are dated February 7, 2000, a week after the council action.
The memorandum incorporated the costly 10 percent skybox-revenue clause and ceded the use of the city's skybox for 40 games, although it provided that the city council "shall receive 22 Plaza level tickets between 1st and 3rd bases for each game." The agreement was silent on the purpose of the tickets.