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The Escondido city council last night (Dec. 15) approved by 4-1 a tentative deal to shell out $50 million for a ballpark for the Padres's AAA minor league team, but councilmembers want changes before the deal is finally approved in February, according to the North County Times. Both the council and Padres will have several opportunities to back out. Mayor Sam Abed, who had been critical of the deal before his election, voted in favor of it, but balked at giving the Padres's chief executive Jeff Moorad and his group of investors an exclusive option to buy city land next to the ballpark. Abed also wants the team to cover up to $10 million in potential land and infrastructure cost increases, double the previous agreement, according to the Times. "We're not agreeing to anything here, but we haven't got up and run out of the room," said Steve Peace, advisor to the Padres group, according to the Times.

The team has been known as the Portland Beavers. Portland is the nation's 23rd largest market with a metro population of 2.2 million, but cities in the area balked when the team wanted a subsidized new ballpark. If the Escondido deal goes through, the team would play two years in Tucson, the nation's 52nd largest market with a population of more than 1 million. Escondido's population is 147,514, but backers of the project say that the potential market area is 700,000 -- a figure that others say is wildly optimistic. Abed said the deal would be a "partnership with the best team in baseball," according to the Union-Tribune. That would be the major league Padres, whose attendance has fallen below levels in Qualcomm Stadium, where it played until 2004 when it opened at the highly-subsidized Petco ballpark downtown. About 50 citizens spoke at the meeting, with a slight majority in favor of the project, said the Times."Those opposed said the costs were too high and that Moorad was essentially fleecing the city," said the Times.

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Comments

a2zresource Dec. 16, 2010 @ 8:30 a.m.

Perhaps Escondido is ready for some big-city liabilities and major league back-room dealings.

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Don Bauder Dec. 16, 2010 @ 11:23 a.m.

I am afraid Escondido, which has economic strains already, is in for a fleecing. One reason is that pro sports teams hire the biggest and sharpest law firms. Local government lawyers are no match. The contracts wind up being a license to steal. Look at how San Diego was fleeced by both the Chargers and Padres, and now its leadership wants to be fleeced a second time by the Chargers. Best, Don Bauder

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SurfPuppy619 Dec. 16, 2010 @ 5:18 p.m.

Look at how San Diego was fleeced by both the Chargers and Padres

Come on Don, it was fixed

I have said this repeatedly Don, it was not a fleecing b/c it was done knowingly, willfully and intentionally by the elected leaders.

The elected leaders were getting kickbacks-thru campaign contributions or otherwise-and as a result they gave away the farm (after all the farm belongs to the taxpayers not them- they face no personal loss).

A FIRST SEMESTER LAW STUDENT, with just "Contracts I" under their belt could have drafted a better contract than the City did with the Chargers, or the City did with the Padres (who gave the entire $150 million in naming rights of Petco to the Padres-no split at all-fixed!).

I can guarantee you that these elected officials are getting their palms greased, with legal campaign contribution $$$ or under the table. I wouldn’t be surprised if a brief case full of cash "mysteriously" showed up on these officials’ doorsteps looking for a home.

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Visduh Dec. 16, 2010 @ 8:44 a.m.

Those who oppose this are oh-so-right. This is not the time, and Escondido is not the place for that team to locate. But the fact that it is still under discussion with a city council, all five members of which describe themselves as "fiscal conservatives", scares me. Fiscal conservatives who are facing continued declines in revenue to support basic municipal services don't talk about stadium subsidies. Rather they are behaving like typical local, hick boosters being bamboozled by city slickers.

But Escondido has tried this sort of thing before in an attempt to go big time, and has failed. Hey, what's one more foolish flop?

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Don Bauder Dec. 16, 2010 @ 11:50 a.m.

When I did an earlier column on this deal, I learned that local politicians had bought into tales of how a city can prosper mightily if it subsidizes a minor league team -- and that information had come from the Padres. I could not determine that anyone in Escondido leadership had done any homework on studies by objective economists, who conclude that neither minor nor major league teams bring economic development, and that was particularly true of minor league teams. As to location of a AAA team: has anybody asked why Portland area cities wouldn't subsidize this team, which had been there decades? My guess is that if the deal goes through, attendance will be good for a couple of years, then will plunge once the novelty has worn off. It has happened at Petco Park. Best, Don Bauder

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Harmsway Dec. 16, 2010 @ 9:14 a.m.

Now if we can only get these geniuses to build one for the Chargers....

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SurfPuppy619 Dec. 16, 2010 @ 10:02 a.m.

These monors should be tarred, feathered and run out of town. The citizens should be outraged. They should be taking pitchforks down to City Hall.

Portland obviously has way more intelligent leaders, if we could only import those leaders to Escondido and San Diego.

For the life of me I cannot udnderstand WHY elected officals are giving away public funds-gifts of public funds- to pro sports teams in this modern age. Maybe 15, 20 years ago-but today?? I am pretty sure kickbacks are involved, in both Escondido and San Diego-it just doesn't make sense any other way.

I wish we had someone who ran on a one issue platform for Mayor-no corporate welfare for billionaires. Or public employee unions-a two issue platform really.

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Don Bauder Dec. 16, 2010 @ 11:53 a.m.

I think those would be great platforms but I don't think your candidates would win. See my column this week. Best, Don Bauder

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MURPHYJUNK Dec. 16, 2010 @ 1:23 p.m.

wait and see which councilmembers are driving new cars next year.

not a vote in the public interest.

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Don Bauder Dec. 16, 2010 @ 11:51 a.m.

Escondido did have discussions with the Chargers. The plans fell through. Possibly the disappointment of losing the Chargers is one factor leading the Escondido council to jump into this foolish deal. Best, Don Bauder

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Don Bauder Dec. 16, 2010 @ 7:19 p.m.

Response to MURPHYJUNK at 1:23 p.m.: Maybe the councilmembers will read your post and stash the loot in the Caymans instead of buying a car. Best, Don Bauder

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Don Bauder Dec. 16, 2010 @ 7:21 p.m.

Response to a2zresource at 4:28 p.m.: Yes, MURPHYJUNK put it well. Best, Don Bauder

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Ponzi Dec. 16, 2010 @ 8:21 p.m.

Off topic, but I feel you need to do a story on the NFL and Chargers.

Is it rigged? I mean in the eleventh hour a lousy team is now not only winning, but shutting out other teams in the end of the season. If the Chargers don’t blow out in the playoffs like they typically do, my hunch is there is more corruption in pro sports than in Wall Street banking. I’m not into conspiracy theories either, but when it comes to greed, I don’t rule anything out. The “officials” are a very small club and very influential.

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Don Bauder Dec. 16, 2010 @ 10:10 p.m.

You raise an interesting point. It is commonly accepted among those in the know that the famous Super Bowl in which Namath and the Jets beat the Colts was fixed by the league to try to establish parity between the old NFL and new AFL, recently merged. After all, pro football, in particular, is run by and for the gambling profession. There is point shaving and possibly a certain amount of game throwing. Would game throwing be arranged so a team can get a stadium? People have wondered about that. I don't think the timing would be so good in the case of the Chargers. If the proposed new stadium gets on the ballot, it wouldn't be until 2012. Next season, 2011, there may be a strike or a lockout. Whether or not there is a season in 2011, many voters will have forgotten games in 2010 by then, unless the Chargers make the Super Bowl. Best, Don Bauder

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rortlieb Dec. 16, 2010 @ 10:32 p.m.

Here's a link to an accurate account of the meeting, which had over 50 speakers of whom only 14 were opposed to the project:

http://www.signonsandiego.com/news/2010/dec/15/escondido-council-approves-moving-ahead-ballpark/

The NC Times reporter incorrectly wrote that a slight majority of speakers favored the ballpark, when in truth over 70% of those who spoke were in favor. The bottom line is that a sizable majority of Escondido citizens believe having a Triple A ballpark will be good for the City. It will be, just as Petco is good for San Diego.

If you don't like sports you don't have to attend. Or watch. Or listen. :-)

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a2zresource Dec. 17, 2010 @ 12:18 a.m.

But you'll still have to pay taxes and fees for Escondido's municipal support of the project, whether you are a fan or not.

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Don Bauder Dec. 17, 2010 @ 9:29 a.m.

Of course. The non-fans pay the freight, too. But the fanatics win in most cities, even though it's clear that the project is a complete scam. New York is supposedly a sophisticated city. Look how it was raped by the Yankees. Best, Don Bauder

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Don Bauder Dec. 17, 2010 @ 9:27 a.m.

You're asking me to believe the U-T over the North County Times? In touting pro sports subsidies, the U-T is a propaganda mill. Actually, it's possible that those supporting this scam were in fact in a fairly large majority. Read my column this week. Fanatics always show up to make noise. Best, Don Bauder

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SurfPuppy619 Dec. 16, 2010 @ 11:22 p.m.

This comment was removed by the site staff for violation of the usage agreement.

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Ponzi Dec. 17, 2010 @ 5:52 a.m.

In respect to Escondido, do the leaders know what the city needs? Or are they throwing Jell-O at the wall and watching what sticks? The problem is that team is coming there because it has no place else to go. There must be something in the San Diego County drinking water that makes all these politicians lack critical thinking skills.

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Don Bauder Dec. 17, 2010 @ 9:30 a.m.

The lack of thinking skills may be in the genes, not the water. Best, Don Bauder

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Founder Dec. 17, 2010 @ 8:06 a.m.

This DEAL (no pun intended) is just like all the other big deals with PR groups promoting for what ever boondoggle that they are being paid to $PIN...

Give some PR folks or even me $100.000 and I bet I could bet 100 locals to speak real passionately about almost anything! To think this is not being done all the time in SD is inane, that is the "REAL" game in town!

Here is a perfect example: Isolate, Expose, Avoid http://www.sandiegoreader.com/news/20...

  • Be sure to check out the "Download PDF" (in red) of the their "PLAN" at the bottom of the Story...
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Don Bauder Dec. 17, 2010 @ 9:34 a.m.

Founder, the Chargers spokesperson Mark Fabiani was to answer questions on a website earlier this week. It was cancelled, supposedly for technical reasons. The website is www.sdstadium.org. Its slogan: "America's Finest City Deserves America's Finest Stadium." One of the funny things about the slogan is that even the Chargers don't claim that the proposed stadium on only ten acres would be America's finest. It would cost hundreds of millions less than the one built for the Dallas Cowboys. Best, Don Bauder

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Founder Dec. 18, 2010 @ 9:57 a.m.

Great! I love the statement at the top: We need your support DONATE Now...

They don't even want to use their own money to $PIN this deal!

Chargers + PR + OPM = SPIN on Guacamole Bowl funding!

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Don Bauder Dec. 18, 2010 @ 2:10 p.m.

The acronym describing the modus operandi of pro sports team owners -- and of other crooks -- is OPM: Other People's Money. Best, Don Bauder

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rortlieb Dec. 18, 2010 @ 8:11 p.m.

Pro sports owners are crooks huh? When was the last time a sports owner went to jail. Oh wait - the only explanation for that is the DAs and judges are crooks too. Oh no - we're surrounded by . . . CROOKS!! Hurry. Run away before it's too late. Maybe we can escape to a safe place like Mexico where they don't have sports owners who are crooks ;-) OMG LOL

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Don Bauder Dec. 19, 2010 @ 7:53 a.m.

The post by rortlieb reminds me of a poignant experience back in about 1973. I had just come to the San Diego Union, and the managing editor wanted me and another reporter to do a series about organized crime's influence in pro sports. One of the first I called was an investigator with the federal government in Washington. He told me how his crew had collected reams of data on mobsters who own pro sports teams. But when the investigators would try to bring out the information, the public would scream to their representative in Congress. "They just don't want to hear it," he said to me. If you go back to the Kefauver hearings on organized crime in the 1950s, there is plenty on pro sports owners who were gangsters or tied to them. Suggest you read the thoroughly-researched, footnoted book, "Interference: How Organized Crime Influences Professional Football" by Dan E. Moldea (Morrow). Of course these owners don't go to prison -- at least, I can't remember one. The most recent imbroglio involved Eddie DeBartolo the Younger, who supposedly owned the San Francisco 49ers. His notorious father was always assumed to be the real owner. DeBartolo Jr. was caught bribing a former governor of Louisiana so Eddie could set up a gambling casino. The league made Eddie "step down" as owner, the ex-governor did some time, but I don't think DeBartolo did. They are all too powerful politically. One example, though: Al Capone financially backed both the Chicago Bears and then Chicago Cardinals. Capone went to prison, but on charges not related to his pro sports involvement. Best, Don Bauder

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a2zresource Dec. 19, 2010 @ 9:13 p.m.

I am hoping the people of Escondido are watching this all happen in front of them with their eyes wide open.

If not, they may find that the politics of local fiscal collapse has far greater consequences for that municipality than the politics of undocumented immigration into the city limits. Escondido simply does not have the industrial-commercial base to bail out the residents, and the Moorad combination won't be bringing anything worth employing large numbers of residents to the table excepting low-wage service workers who won't contribute all that much to the tax base or for general obligation servicing.

If stadium financing proves to be the equivalent for Escondido that the combination of deferred infrastructure maintenance, tax increment diversion from vital public services, and public employee pension problems are proving to be for us here in the City of San Diego, then Escondido could be in for a rough ride for at least the next 40 or so years (per H&S Code redevelopment law).

At least the scandals ought to be entertaining...

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Don Bauder Dec. 20, 2010 @ 8:01 a.m.

Yes, when Escondido runs out of money, things will get interesting. However, a couple of points: initially, the stadium will appear to do well, I suspect. That's how the pro baseball scam works. In the first 3 or so years, there is a novelty effect. Crowds come and some low-paying jobs are created. The owners take advantage of the novelty effect and clamp on high prices of both tickets and concessions. Then attendance falls off, as do prices and employment. Best, Don Bauder

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Don Bauder Dec. 22, 2010 @ 7:55 a.m.

NOTE: Moorad's group completed purchase of the Portland Beavers. Best, Don Bauder

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