On August 26, Solana Beach–based (W)right On Communications, a public relations firm, announced results of a poll of 375 county residents: 63 percent of county residents would oppose the City of San Diego funding construction of a new Chargers stadium.
Two-thirds of the 63 percent would oppose public funding even if that means the Chargers would move to Los Angeles.
The results were similar in the city: 59 percent oppose the subsidization of a stadium, and 59 percent of the opponents would thumb it down even if the Chargers would depart.
Hamish Marshall, director of research and analytics at (W)right On, was surprised by the results.
On August 28, SB Nation, an online blog that is all about sports and definitely in favor of sports, declared, upon reading the poll, "The chances of the Chargers getting a new stadium using public money are somewhere between slim and none." Says SB, "Very simply, San Diego doesn't have the money to undertake a project of that magnitude (both size and cost)." The City "doesn't stand a chance" of getting a two-thirds vote to raise the taxes necessary, says SB.
"San Diego residents are still smarting over what they perceive as a 'bait and switch' regarding the construction of Petco Park and the promises of a competitive Padres team," says SB, also citing the "long and often contentious history between the Chargers and City," such as the ticket guarantee and blackouts. However, SB thinks the results might be different if the Chargers plunked in $250 million, the league put in $250 million, naming rights added $150 million to $200 million and the structure were a football-only facility costing $800 million to $850 million.
Is SB kidding? — $800 million to $850 million? Santa Clara's subsidized football-only stadium for the 49ers cost $1.3 billion. If a retractable roof were added to a new San Diego stadium so it could double as a convention facility, you can add on another $150 million to $200 million.
On August 29, the Union-Tribune had a two-paragraph item on the (W)right On poll buried in a political column. A former U-T copy editor commented, "Had this appeared on the front page of Sports, with serious headline treatment, heads would have rolled. Ask Tim Sullivan."
(Tim Sullivan was an excellent U-T sports columnist who took a balanced approach to stadium subsidies, although he didn't oppose them. When John Lynch took over as chief executive of the U-T, he announced that any sportswriter had to lead cheers for a new Chargers stadium. Sullivan was fired.)