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In a 24-page report, the staff of the California Coastal Commission recommended a "No" vote on the planned $520 million convention center expansion. The commission will take up the matter at a meeting Oct. 10.

" The [proposal] will result in significant impacts to views, visual quality and coastal recreation through the substantial loss of already limited waterfront area and open space," says the staff. "Construction of a building of this size and width so close to the waterfront would be unprecedented in San Diego County because setting back buildings a reasonable distance from the shoreline ensures that the public will have both visual and physical access to the waterfront."

The expansion would eliminate the 1.6 acre landscaped open space and public area adjacent to Harbor Drive, says the staff. The convention center expansion, along with an expansion of the Hilton Hotel, "will significantly reduce the view corridor between the two existing structures," says the staff.

The San Diego Chargers rejoiced at the news. The team wants a combined football stadium/convention center expansion that realistically would be more than 70 percent financed by taxpayers. However, it would be several blocks from the current center, and research and experience indicate that convention attendees want contiguous space. Also, combined football stadia/convention centers have not worked well in other cities such as Indianapolis and Atlanta.

The study does not address the poignant matter: convention centers are vastly overbuilt in the U.S. Convention centers, including San Diego's, are reducing prices by 50 percent and more because there is such a glut of convention center space. Adding on to the convention center -- whether at the current site or in combination with a football stadium -- would be the height of economic folly, according to Heywood Sanders, the professor who is the national expert on convention centers, and is now bringing up to date his seminal 2005 report for the Brookings Institution. It showed how overbuilt convention centers were then. Now the situation is far worse around the nation.

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Comments

aardvark Sept. 27, 2013 @ 4:43 p.m.

The Chargers think they are going to get their hands on all of those millions that were going to go to a convention center expansion. I still feel the expansion will go through (although it is not necessary), and if/when it does ultimately get approved, the Chargers will probably file a suit to stop the project.

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Don Bauder Sept. 27, 2013 @ 6:09 p.m.

aardvark: There are already suits opposing the expansion at the appeals level. Those suits will probably go to the Supreme Court. A suit by the Chargers would be welcome, as long as the public doesn't fall for the ridiculous idea of a covered stadium in a Mediterranean climate, to be used as additional convention space. Best, Don Bauder

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aardvark Sept. 27, 2013 @ 7:01 p.m.

I don't think the Chargers (at this point) care where the stadium is or what it looks like, as long as someone else (read: taxpayers) ends up footing the vast majority of the cost.

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Don Bauder Sept. 27, 2013 @ 8:45 p.m.

aardvark: You make a good point. Over the decade, the Chargers have proposed a number of locations all over the county. What they want is taxpayer money. Best, Don Bauder

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sdraoul Sept. 27, 2013 @ 7:09 p.m.

Bauder is full of crap.

To build a new stadium with a retractable roof makes sense. It can bring an NBA team to San Diego that would not be stolen like the rockets and Clippers were, playing as they were in the almost 50 year old Sports Arena. Properly designed, soccer would come to the new stadium. So might NHA Hockey. Super Bowls would come back.

Another million people would come Downtown for football in addition to the 2.5 million plus that come for baseball. Millions of dollars would be spent by the new Downtowners as the Padre crowds have proven with the dollars they spend everyone of them taxed for the city and state's benefit.

Speaking of silly, Bauder states that other conventions paces around the country are cutting their rental rates as if that was any consideration by a group larger than twelve people in coming to a city. Comparing Atlanta and Indianapolis to San Diego is laughable but Bauder continues to do so, must be his Wisconsin life experience. Then there is his continual quoting of the charlatan "professor" who he claims is a national expert on public facilities like convention centers and stadiums. As they say in the west German state of Wisconsin -- PUSHAW, Has anyone calculated the sales tax San Diego rakes in from conventioneers in what they spend int he Gaslamp or what Padre fans spend int he same neighborhood.

Just today I drove up 5th Avenue at 3:15 and every outdoor seating restaurant on 5th Avenue in the Gaslamp was full of people from the Family Physicians Convention -- I wonder how much in sales tax revenue they dropped on food and drinks this fine Friday afternoon. I didn't see Bauder counting heads like I did on my cruise up 5th Avenue.

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Don Bauder Sept. 27, 2013 @ 8:49 p.m.

sdraoul: Objective economists-- those not tied to the teams or the league -- almost unanimously conclude that subsidized stadiums do not stimulate an economy and are just about the worst way to spend the hundreds of millions of dollars taxpayers put into stadiums. The team owners -- in the NFL, the majority are billionaires -- should finance new stadiums. The Spanos family has more than $1 billion. Best, Don Bauder

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JustWondering Sept. 28, 2013 @ 5:31 a.m.

I don't believe the Spanos' or any of the NFL billionaire owners made their money building stadiums, but I could be wrong. I actually agree with you. For the price of admission to an NFL game, the moneys earned with their marketing, the subsidies earned from television and the virtual monopoly granted by the United States government, the NFL and its team owners should be building their own stadiums. The rest of us are tapped out and 17 trillion in debt.

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Don Bauder Sept. 28, 2013 @ 6:18 a.m.

JustWondering: They didn't make their money building stadiums, but they raked in much of their billions letting taxpayers foot the bill as they gathered reams of money from their ownerships of the teams. Best, Don Bauder

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Ponzi Sept. 27, 2013 @ 10:47 p.m.

NBA and NHA are not in San Diego because there is not enough demand. Anyone who thinks that the lack of a sports arena is why there is not NBA and NHA needs to learn some economics. If there was a demand, someone would have solved the problem. Seattle built a beautiful Key Arena for the Sonics, who had been in Seattle for decades. They left because they could get more money in Oklahoma City.

Padres promised a better team, more spectators and so on. How's that working after all these years?

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Don Bauder Sept. 28, 2013 @ 6:21 a.m.

Ponzi: Good points. More Chargers games will be blacked out this year for lack of fans -- I should say "fannies" -- in the seats. Padres attendance is hardly robust. So where is the market for NBA or NHL teams? There is too much else to do in San Diego, and ticket prices are too high. Also, there aren't enough large companies to buy blocks of tickets. Best, Don Bauder

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Burwell Sept. 27, 2013 @ 7:25 p.m.

There's not much interest in sports in San Diego. No more than 15,000 fans are actually willing to purchase a ticket for any given Padres or Chargers game. Most of the tickets sold are purchased in bulk by businesses and distributed gratis to favored customers. For example, plumbing wholesalers distribute free tickets to plumbers who spend a lot to keep them from going to the Home Depot. Few sports enthusiasts are willing to purchase tickets with their own funds, but will attend games if the tickets are free.

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Don Bauder Sept. 27, 2013 @ 8:51 p.m.

Burwell: That is a topic worth investigating. How many Padres and Chargers tickets are purchased in bulk by businesses? Maybe we will all be surprised. Best, Don Bauder

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laplayaheritage Sept. 27, 2013 @ 8:47 p.m.

Coastal Commission Staff Report Recommending Denial. Large File - 22 MB. http://documents.coastal.ca.gov/reports/2013/10/Th25d-10-2013.pdf

The Port's plan failed because they did not read the Coastal Act. If they did they would know that our Protected Coastal View Corridor to San Diego Bay includes the view from the new Pedestrian Bridge over Harbor Drive. The Port's design consultant are at fault for the square southwest corner of the structure which limited our Protected View Corridor for no good reason. Sloppy.

In addition, instead of the new 500 room luxury Hotel Tower on top of the Parking Structure as planned and approved by the City Council. The location of the Tower was moved to the Northwest of the Parking Structure, further block our Protected View Corridor, but now to the South. The effects of these two design flaws are responsible for the staff recommendation to DENY,

If Port staff read the former agreements, they would know that the next project planned for the Convention Center would be to increase public access to our free Waterfront by construction of a Pedestrian Bridge at Fourth Avenue, and new Wayfinding Signs to encourage public use of Embarcadero Marina Park South, and a Public View Patio on the Second Floor of the Convention Center that is never used by the public. The Public View Patio is seen by locals as private and off limits.

The Port is using the same dated 1850 construction techniques of dredging and create land on former sludge beds. Prone to liquefaction, permanent deformation, and soil collapse due to Climate Change and increase tide elevations.

If our plan for a Structural Cistern Foundation to create a Full Reclamation of out Tidelands is found cost effective, then the Army Corps of Engineers and Caltrans could analyze our Full Tidelands Reclamation plan to create subterranean waterfront public space for public transportation, utilities, and industrial uses. From Mission Bay to Otay Mesa.

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Don Bauder Sept. 27, 2013 @ 8:53 p.m.

laplayaheritage: It appears from the report -- and your excellent interpretation of it -- that the Port didn't do its homework. A lot of money was spent on that plan. Best, Don Bauder

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Jimgee Sept. 28, 2013 @ 10:57 a.m.

A cynic might conclude that they thought regulators would disregard both the facts and the law, and just approve the project. We may have seen that happen once or twice in San Diego, yes?

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Don Bauder Sept. 28, 2013 @ 9:54 p.m.

Jimgee: Ignoring the law is an old sport in San Diego. Best, Don Bauder

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jelula Oct. 1, 2013 @ 5:48 p.m.

Jimgee - you took the words out of my mouth!

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aardvark Sept. 27, 2013 @ 9:38 p.m.

Laplayaheritage--If your plan still includes a combination stadium/convention center expansion, it will never be built.

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laplayaheritage Sept. 27, 2013 @ 10:54 p.m.

Our issue is larger than a multi-purpose NFL Olympic Stadium and Convention Center Expansion. The reason for pushing this project is for Proof of Concept for a Full Tidelands Reclamation to create subsurface property, increasing the value of our public assets, and maximum efficiency.

The Port is using the same dated 1850 construction techniques of dredging and create land on former sludge beds. The hydraulic Fills are Prone to liquefaction, permanent deformation, and soil collapse due to Climate Change and increases tide elevations.

If our plan for a Structural Cistern Foundation to create a Full Reclamation of out Tidelands is found cost effective, then the Army Corps of Engineers and Caltrans could analyze our Full Tidelands Reclamation plan to create subterranean waterfront public space for public transportation, utilities, and industrial uses. See Pages 13 through 16 for a discussion on Cisterns and Geology Maps showing hydraulic loose undocumented fill in brown.

www.tinyurl.com/20110124a

https://docs.google.com/file/d/0B_fHftxFXFhyMGJmMWY2NjAtZmJlZi00ZTVkLWIzZjktZjJiZjczZjZkZWY2/edit?hl=en

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aardvark Sept. 27, 2013 @ 11 p.m.

Now you are back to the "Olympic" stadium. The fantasy continues...

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Don Bauder Sept. 29, 2013 @ 3:01 p.m.

Katheryn: But a subsidized football stadium and expanded convention center are simply horrible uses of public funds. Best, Don Bauder

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Don Bauder Sept. 28, 2013 @ 6:25 a.m.

aardvark: I certainly hope you are right. That is a cockamamie idea offered by the Chargers -- one of several such ideas offered in the past. Best, Don Bauder

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Don Bauder Sept. 28, 2013 @ 8:48 a.m.

aardvark: Let's hope it will never be built. Just remember: when there is an election on taxpayer funding of a stadium for a billionaire, the billionaire team owner will outspend opposition to 100 to 1 or more. Best, Don Bauder

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Psycholizard Sept. 27, 2013 @ 11:50 p.m.

We must keep our eyes on the other cards in the game of three card monte that is StadiumCon. The Spanos family wants to develop the land under the present Stadium. The fact it is a toxic waste site seems to be ignored, but developed it might get a price that would pay for StadiumCon, at least that's what was suggested in one of the earlier proposals. What is done with the Stadium site should be discussed along with the proposed downtown atrocity, there is a Mission Valley atrocity planned as well.

There's nothing seriously wrong with the current Stadium.

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JustWondering Sept. 28, 2013 @ 5:53 a.m.

Obviously you've never been in the bowels of Qualcomm Stadium. If you had, you'd understand that those areas are certainly not up to the standards expected by multimillionaires. You know ... the players. No, I'm afraid late 60's designs and space, even ones which have been remodeled a few times just can't complete with new modern standard of luxury. If you compared the player diggs between Qualcomm Stadium and Petco Park you be ABSOLUTELY shocked and ashamed of the fact you are forcing millionaires to use the facilities at the Q. Not to mention the fact that the visiting millionaire locker rooms, press facilities, and umpires rooms are well below the standards acceptable and EXPECTED. Sadly times have changed, it's not about serving the fans, it's about money, a LOT of money for the owners and players of a game.

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Don Bauder Sept. 28, 2013 @ 6:35 a.m.

JustWondering: I love your sarcasm, but I ask one question: how many hours a year do those abused millionaire players have to occupy those oppressive quarters at Qualcomm? And how many hours a year do the billionaire owners have to spend in luxury boxes that are not as luxurious as boxes elsewhere? Best, Don Bauder

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JustWondering Sept. 29, 2013 @ 8:28 p.m.

It's not the time spent in the locker room for the players. It's the fact they have to endure the dilapidated facilities in the first place. But not the owners. The Spanos suite on the press level IS LUXURIOUS and, as stadia go, very spacious. That's not to mention 1st class food...certainly not fare offered to the fans at, or what should we call it Stadium Market Prices. Let's not forget about CHP escorted limousine service into and out of Qualcomm. But alas, there's no dedicated private elevator. But when Spanos moves all other floors are locked out so it's just like having one anyway, albeit a dirty, breaks down regularly, public one. But hey, what good is it to have a billion dollars, and own the vast majority of an NFL football team if you can't your flaunt wealth and flex your power every once-in-a-while.

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JustWondering Sept. 29, 2013 @ 8:45 p.m.

Oh, don't forget the taxpayers built Charger Park as part and parcel of the 97 Stadium expansion. The Chargers corporate offices and facilities, which are just up the 15 from those nasty facilities at the Q and are very nice.

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Don Bauder Sept. 30, 2013 @ 6:51 a.m.

JustWondering: Oh yes, that practice facility was part of the 1997 expansion deal. If a stadium is built downtown, that practice facility will now be miles away from the stadium. This will discommode the players, coaches -- and, of course, the Spanos family.

Don't just stand there! Do something! Best, Don Bauder

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Don Bauder Sept. 30, 2013 @ 6:48 a.m.

JustWondering: Is the fact that Qualcomm does not have an elevator dedicated only to use by the Spanos family serve as justification for San Diego taxpayers to shell out $1 billion to build a stadium with such an elevator for this underprivileged billionaire family? I guess many would answer in the affirmative. Best, Don Bauder

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Don Bauder Sept. 28, 2013 @ 6:30 a.m.

Psycholizard: Kinder Morgan claims it will have the plume cleaned up by the end of the year. A question is whether there is -- or will be -- a market for development at that site, no matter what Fulton, the new planning guru, says. If the plume is eliminated, then the answer is for the Chargers themselves, with some help from the City, to fix Qualcomm's alleged problems.

The Qualcomm site is a perfect location for a stadium. Downtown is not a good location, as Petco has proved. Best, Don Bauder

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Visduh Sept. 28, 2013 @ 7:56 a.m.

If this rejection recommendation is adopted by the commission, there will be hell to pay. We can expect editorials in the Mill complaining in the strongest terms of "overreach" by the commission and why it should be abolished. But they know that none of that is really true, and its abolition is never going to happen.

As far as the current stadium is concerned, just two or three years ago, there was a report on the cost of making some improvements. Upon looking at it, it seemed that half the money was to go to some things that were really optional, and that the things that could be justified could be done for about $25 million. In other words, it could be brought up to something like Just Wondering thinks it should be for a tiny fraction of the cost of building a replacement. That's what should be done if the local fans insist upon "doing something."

I remain puzzled as to why the Chargers want, if they REALLY want, a new stadium in that downtown location. We see from Petco usage and attendance that the folks don't go there, park, and view games in the numbers they did prior to the move. A stadium there would further degrade the attendance at Charger games, and that would not help the Spanos racket, but hinder it. Or am I missing something?

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Don Bauder Sept. 28, 2013 @ 8:55 a.m.

Visduh: You are not missing anything. Petco Park has shown that a downtown location is hardly desirable. After the first few novelty years, attendance at Petco has been lower than it was at Qualcomm. Many people complain of the inconvenience of getting to, and parking near Petco.

The same would be true of a downtown Chargers stadium. Attendance and beer/Coke/food sales would soar initially because of the novelty effect, then tail off sharply, as has happened with the Padres. Best, Don Bauder

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Visduh Sept. 28, 2013 @ 4:08 p.m.

Then, Don, does Spanos actually want a new stadium if it would tie the team to SD for twenty, thirty, or more years? Or is he still playing a game that can help get the team moved to LA? We all know that he'd love to have the team in LA, but only on his terms, which greater Angelenos won't go for.

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Don Bauder Sept. 28, 2013 @ 9:57 p.m.

Visduh: LA is tied in a mess. Some question if either of the two proposed stadia will ever be built. Spanos doesn't want Anschutz to own a big chunk of the team. I think there is more of a waiting game on tap. Best, Don Bauder

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aardvark Sept. 28, 2013 @ 4:43 p.m.

Don: I am not justifying the construction of Petco Park, but I am throwing out other numbers for your consideration. The last 9 years at Qualcomm, the Padres averaged 26,762/game. That includes giveaway nights on Saturdays, many of which routinely drew nearly 60,000/game. Through 2012 at Petco Park, the Padres were averaging 30,294/game. Even the last 3 seasons, as bad as they were, they averaged just under 26,500/game with no chance to draw crowds of 60,000 in a 42,000+ seat ballpark which pumped up the Qualcomm attendance totals. We all know how the Padres pulled the wool over city officials to get the ballpark built downtown. However, if the Chargers get their new stadium built where they want (on the bus yard site), it would screw over what tailgate space there is for the Padres, and even though the majority of Charger games would be played on Sundays, access to the downtown areas would be gridlock, with NO tailgating available for anyone. The best (and only) place a new stadium should go is right next to the old one . I also don't know if the attendance for Charger games would soar all that much, as they are fairly close to sell-outs all the time (though sometimes not enough to lift the blackout), and the ticket prices in a new stadium would probably jump dramatically

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Don Bauder Sept. 28, 2013 @ 10:01 p.m.

aardvark: The last time I looked, which was a couple of years ago, if you discounted the initial several years at Petco when the novelty effect was in play, Qualcomm was doing better. But I haven't looked recently. Often it depends what time frame you select. If you chose a different number than nine years, the effect might be different. In any case, Moores's claim that the Padres couldn't make it financially at Qualcomm is laughable. Best, Don Bauder

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aardvark Sept. 28, 2013 @ 10:24 p.m.

I picked the last 9 years at Qualcomm, as it was the first 9 years of ownership by John Moores. Moores made sure that the Padres couldn't make it financially, when he allowed the Chargers to take all advertising revenue after the last enlarging of Qualcomm. The Padres got basically nothing for playing there, and had to pay rent on top of getting minimal revenue, and no ad dollars. Of course, after he moved to Petco Park, he made millions, but still refused to put that money into the team as the Padres were a separate entity from the cash cow that was JMI Realty. He eventually took the money and ran back to Texas, as you well know.

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Don Bauder Sept. 29, 2013 @ 7:13 a.m.

aardvark: The Chargers/Padres Qualcomm arrangement was a done deal in the early 1990s. City leaders did a little dance to pretend they were still weighing options. They were lying. Best, Don Bauder

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Psycholizard Sept. 29, 2013 @ 7:33 p.m.

We should look at the real estate deals planned to find where Spanos intends to make money. The present Stadium Site will likely be sold to Spanos, as well as juicy parcels downtown condemned by eminent domain. The taxes on the plundered parcels will be included as the Spanos contribution. I don't think they've detailed their proposals, but if they follow the Petco scheme, that's what they intend.

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Don Bauder Sept. 30, 2013 @ 6:57 a.m.

Psycholizard: John Moores raked in $700 million to $1 billion just on selling land that was given to him at early 1990s prices. San Diego's leadership was responsible for this staggeringly incompetent (corrupt?) deal.

In almost every city, the local bureaucracy is no match for the highly-paid lawyers employed by the team. Best, Don Bauder

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Psycholizard Sept. 30, 2013 @ 4:46 p.m.

I learned of the Petco real estate swindle in your columns. The first Charger scheme included skyscraper condos on the present site, that supposedly would pay for everything. Since then every scheme has tearing down our Stadium and building condos as part of the plan, even when building in Oceanside.

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aardvark Sept. 30, 2013 @ 6:32 p.m.

Sure it would--just like the hotels to be built by JMI Realty near the ballpark (most of which were never built) that were supposed to generate enough TOT revenue to pay down ballpark bonds without using any general fund monies. We have seen just how well THAT worked out. Crappy for the city, but great for Moores.

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Don Bauder Sept. 30, 2013 @ 7:56 p.m.

aardvark: The Padres made promises, kept only some of them, yet the mayor (Golding) and council let them get away with it. Prior to the vote, the administration pressured bureaucrats to make it look like TOT revenues would pay for bond servicing. The grand jury wrote about that government scam. Best, Don Bauder

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Don Bauder Sept. 30, 2013 @ 7:53 p.m.

Psycholizard: The various Chargers schemes for building a new stadium at public expense have, by and large, been rather silly and hastily prepared. Best, Don Bauder

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