The Chargers-owning Spanos family have more than their team's current comeback to be happy for; they're also the beneficiaries of $110,000 in new carpeting at their taxpayer-provided San Diego facilities.
Although it isn't widely known, the city provides the football team with its well-appointed “Chargers Park” headquarters and training center on Murphy Canyon Road, off Interstate 15, which taxpayers spent $11.6 million to build back in 1997 as part of the Qualcomm Stadium expansion deal.
"The training facilities will include state-of-the-art exercise and therapy equipment, video facilities and other amenities," reported the Union-Tribune shortly before the center opened. "'We're looking forward to it,' said Bill Johnston, a Chargers spokesman. 'It's really going to be a benefit to the entire organization.'"
The Chargers lobbied long and hard for the facility, going so far as to hand out travel freebies to members of the stadium board, according to a 1992 U-T report.
The Chargers recently flew two members of the Stadium Authority board, Tawfiq Khoury and Donald McGrath, to Phoenix to watch the team play and to tour the Cardinals' football training facility, which is about 10 miles from Sun Devil Stadium.
In a written report to the board, McGrath — who's a big fan — said the Cardinals' 3-story state-of-the-art training facility is "the sort of thing the Chargers should have."
In 1997, with the project already in the ground, city officials worried that a lawsuit against the stadium expansion, which occurred without a public vote, would torpedo the training center as well, but that case was later dismissed.
Promoted by then–city manager Jack McGrory and mayor Susan Golding, the center was built by Poway contractor and Golding backer Doug Barnhart, as reported by the Union-Tribune in February 1997.
The contractor explained that the practice facility, which is a part of the overall stadium expansion deal between the Chargers and the city, was on a tight deadline from the start.
"We had seven months to build this thing, starting in the dead of winter," Barnhart said. It is because of the compressed schedule that he "forward purchased" finish items like carpet and toilet paper holders.
Normally, things like that would be ordered further down the road, reducing the contractor's financial commitments.
If work were halted, Barnhart said, he would have to raise his own "interesting legal questions" on top of all the other actual and potential litigation swirling around the issue, which has come to dominate civic discourse like no other issue in years.
The controversy died down and the carpet was laid, but as carpets are prone to do, they apparently wore out and had to be replaced.
This past summer, according to a July 21 purchase order issued by the city and posted online, $84,477 was spent for "Carpet Replacement for Training Camp facility per contractual agreement with Chargers." The new flooring was provided by Shaw Industries of Los Angeles. The company is a subsidiary of Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway.
Another purchase order, dated August 8, calls for $25,564 worth of "Carpet replacement and installation for 32 suites at the Stadium, per contractual obligations with the Chargers. This requisition is to pay an invoice for carpeting services completed at Qualcomm Stadium." The vendor was the local Carpet Tile and Flooring Depot on Fairmount Avenue.
In addition to those expenses, another city purchase order shows that on September 7, 2012, taxpayers were required to pay a total of $44,000 for "carpet cleanings as needed for Stadium Suites, Clubs, Press Levels per contractual obligation with Chargers."