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When the Union-Tribune gets that old special-interest bit in its mouth, it seldom lets go. Witness the recent spate of stories the paper has run about how decrepit the once-mighty Qualcomm Stadium has purportedly become. The campaign began on Sunday, December 12, with a 1200-word story under the bylines of Caitlin Rother and Jeff McDonald with the headline "Chargers fans just seething in the rain; Complaints trickle in over slow-draining Q." The piece described a wheelchair-bound dowager getting wet in her luxury seat and quoted city stadium manager Bill Wilson as saying the venue, which taxpayers spent more than $60 million to expand and remodel in 1997, was already out of date: "It leaks all over. This place is a sieve. We have tried everything...from rubberized joints to the high-tech stuff they use on the LAX runway...and the place still leaks." Last Thursday the paper's Holiday Bowl story again flogged the leaky-stadium angle. The campaign hasn't been limited to the U-T. On December 13, the day after the first U-T story, listeners of KPBS radio heard from Chargers lobbyist Mark Fabiani, who argued that a new stadium was needed. The station is run by San Diego State, which plays its football games at Qualcomm and gets hefty financial backing from new stadium boosters. On New Year's Day, a U-T editorial followed up, calling the existing stadium "leaky, creaky, and crumbling."

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