Don Bauder 5:30 p.m., March 14
In Assessing Chargers Options, Do Cost Comparisons
The propaganda machine behind a taxpayer-financed new Chargers stadium is picking up steam, and looking more ridiculous. This morning (May 21) the Union-Tribune leads with a story about a study claiming that the City's annual operating loss at Qualcomm Stadium is $10.6 million to $13.8 million a year. Then the U-T quotes Mayor Jerry Sanders bemoaning such a taxpayer expense and saying how he is working with the team to develop a multiuse sports complex downtown near Petco Park. But the Chargers say they will only put in $200 million (much less with naming rights, etc.) and they hope the National Football League will plunk in up to $100 million. Forget any NFL contribution; the well is dry.
So the City will have to come up with $600 million AT A MINIMUM -- far more if it's a so-called "multiuse" facility. The minimum annual bond servicing would be $24 million to $30 million a year, and that's without considering opportunity costs and a sinking fund, says former Councilmember Bruce Henderson. He says the City is probably losing $10 million to $20 million or more on Petco, which was subsidized to the tune of $300 million, and on which the Padres pay a mere $500,000 a year in rent. Henderson notes that in 2002, the City made an horrendous deal with the Chargers, giving up almost $100 million in rent through 2020 in exchange for the team dropping the 60,000 seat guarantee, which had almost run its course. Now the City's leadership is being set up to be snookered again.