Poor, benighted Qualcomm Stadium. It's been around since 1967 and for its first three decades was one of the city's most popular landmarks. Winner of national architecture awards, the dual-use arena, owned jointly by the City and County, was hailed as a miracle of efficiency and wise public stewardship. Then came 1995, the year Mayor Susan Golding launched her effort to expand the place to keep the Chargers from leaving town. She bumped the County out of the partnership, and she proposed closing off the open east end and adding 10,500 new seats, ostensibly to provide enough capacity for the NFL to conduct semi-regular Super Bowls here.
After a heated struggle in 1997, Golding got her way, avoiding the voters -- more than 20,000 of whom had signed petitions to put $18 million of public financing on the ballot -- by selling the naming rights to the stadium. The team promised to stay in town until at least 2020 and accepted a rich, taxpayer-subsidized ticket guarantee for its trouble.
But after only a few years, the Chargers, owned by Stockton developer Alex Spanos, began grumbling again. Baseball's Padres, who had been given their own brand-new downtown ballpark, thanks to a $300 million public subsidy, moved away in 2004. It wasn't fair, the Chargers said, that they didn't have their own new Taj Mahal.
In December of 2003, Spanos, who was worth $860 million at the time according to Forbes, sued the City in Los Angeles Superior Court, claiming that going without a new stadium in San Diego was causing him "financial hardship." The case was ultimately dropped, and after a long series of backroom wheelings and dealings in the summer of 2004, the city council agreed to let Spanos out of his Golding-era lease.
The new deal gave the team an exit clause after the 2008 season, and Spanos agreed to end his politically disastrous ticket guarantee in exchange for a reduction in his stadium rent of about $5 million a year.
Since then, the Chargers have come up with a new plan. The team and a development partner would pay for a new stadium, infrastructure, and an urban village of homes, offices, retail shops, and a hotel, says a statement on the team's website. Additionally, the development team would provide almost 30 acres of public parks. In exchange, the City would give the team 60 acres on which it would build and then sell more than 6000 units. The City would retain ownership of the new stadium and the land on which the offices, shops, and hotel are built. Pitched by the Spanos family as a dream deal for taxpayers, critics say it would be an obscene giveaway of public assets at a time the City can least afford it.
Spanos and his backers claim it's impossible to renovate the stadium. Editorial writers for the Union-Tribune, who have taken to calling Qualcomm "leaky, creaky and crumbling," say that fixing it up isn't an option.
Some have wondered if the alleged lack of maintenance has been deliberate on the part of the City, as a way to make construction of a new stadium inevitable. Stadium manager Bill Wilson, who retired in October, says absolutely not, but doubters remain.
To shed some light on the situation, a request was made to the City under the state's Public Records Act for e-mails and other documents pertaining to stadium management.
The records provided show that maintenance problems have been rife and staffing inadequate, but they also suggest that the City has neglected basic fix-ups that would benefit fans in lower-priced seats in favor of high-end patrons and the media.
While the hoi polloi struggled with broken seats and leaky roofs, the records show, members of the media and fat cats in the luxury VIP boxes were treated to new loveseats, high-definition television sets, and a variety of other upgrades.
Besides catering to the rich, the e-mails show, members of the stadium staff are careful not to run afoul of Nick Canepa and Tim Sullivan, sportswriters at the Union-Tribune who frequently talk up the need for a new stadium. Meanwhile, accessible seating for the handicapped, which the City agreed to install only after a lawsuit that lasted almost a decade, has been late in coming.
Following is a selection of this year's e-mails written by Chargers' staff and the City employees who maintain the stadium.
On May 6, well before the football season began, the city's stadium marketing manager, Mike McSweeney, wrote Charger vice president Ken Derrett about a request to cover up the stadium's advertising signs during a special event to be held in June.
You may have heard through the grapevine that we are looking at a major private corp event here inside the stadium June 21. Qualcomm, the wireless company is celebrating their 20th Anniversary. It is also the passing of the control of the company from Irwin to his son.
Its a big production. 10,000 people, 84 pc orchestra, Natalie Cole is entertainment. Food and Bev on field.
They are asking/considering several scenearios re: the ring signage inside the stadium. I can't find any references to these in documents here at the stadium. They are:
- Can the signs be covered? I think they are asking that they be covered in a black out type of blanket/cover. I'm guessing this might only be permissable in a religous event. Perhaps they are just not turned on, but left uncovered.
- They are asking if the signs that are in place can be taken out and a special Qualcomm sign replace it. My answer would be no. Too much hassle, potential breakage of the existing signs, goes against the spirit of the contract with the current advertisers. They should be able to reach all attendees in the stadium.
Twelve days later, on MAY 18, Charger vice president Derrett addressed the situation, sending a stern "no" to Linda Champagne, whom Qualcomm had hired to run its anniversary event:
Linda, In response to your recent email regarding signage at Qualcomm Stadium, this will advise that we have entered into contractual agreements with many marketing partners that provide them with advertising presence at the stadium on a year round basis regardless of the nature of the event. Our inability to deliver their signage at the stadium clearly puts us in breach of their contract and some thing we have never had to experience. The end result could be extremely damaging to the San Diego Chargers from various points of view including legal, relationship and financial. Thus while we have a strong relationship with Qualcomm we find this request very difficult to comply with. If you would like to discuss this matter further please feel free to call me directly.
On MAY 22, Derrett returned to advertising banners, this time warning the stadium's marketing manager, Mike McSweeney, that a proposed event with a Hispanic soccer tie-in to Tecate beer was also treading on thin ice because Anheuser-Busch had signage rights in the stadium.
Mike as you can fully appreciate the Tecate event is extremely sensitive because of AB having exclusive signage in the building 365 a year. The Hispanic soccer angle is a great one but competitive beer signage is about as critical as it gets. Happy to talk to the promoter but you may wish to give her heads up. I'm around Monday am to talk further -- also spoke to Qualcomm's event organizer and explained what you and I had already talk about.
On MAY 25, Steve Wightman, the stadium's turf manager and building-maintenance supervisor, wrote McSweeney and their boss, stadium manager Bill Wilson, about plans to build a new X-ray room for the Chargers.
Just had a long conversation with the current Charger X-Ray company who will be bidding on this year's new Charger contract. Since this item (X-Ray) is on the Charger wish list which you both will be discussing with Bruce on Fri, I wanted to let you know what was talked about.
Apparently, the new x-ray technology will be eliminating the need for a darkroom and hazardous chemicals. However, the Chargers want to have an x-ray room conveniently located near the locker room area eliminating the need for the van they had last season that was parked next to Cris Leyco's office in the west tunnel. The room that has been mentioned by the Chargers to this company is the one that was used for the last Super Bowl located next to Rudy's office. That room is currently used by the stadium as storage. Whatever location is decided upon, it would require 220 electrical (a cost that would need to be calculated). Steve
On MAY 31, Charger chief operating officer Jim Steeg wrote the city's stadium manager Bill Wilson, stadium marketing manager Mike McSweeney, and then-assistant city manager Bruce Herring about what the team expected the city to do in the way of maintenance and stadium upgrades. Centerplate, referred to in the e-mail, is the company that provides concession services on game day. The e-mail's subject line read: "ACTION ITEMS FOR QUALCOMM STADIUM FOR 2005 SEASON."
Bruce, I thought I would put together the list of items we discussed last week and the appropriate timing on the follow up to ensure that we are progressing to having the items done by the initial preseason game.
- wireless internet in the working press area
- x-ray equipment in the locker room
City will authorize at cost estimated to be $10000
- power to Gate C ticket office sign
City will proceed, estimated cost of $1140
- best locking system replacement on suite doors
City will proceed, estimated cost of $3700
- obtaining new bicycle racks
City will purchase $4999, Chargers will investigate supplemental purchase
- repair turnstyles
City will investigate and also look to see where others exist
- new chairs in the press box
City has already ordered, estimated cost of $23000
- replacement of monitors in working press & announce booth ,
Chargers will explore with Sony, city will pay up to $40000
- JTECH security pager system
awaiting survey next week, City will fund reasonable amount
- reassign endzone films position
City will effectuate the demo of NW corner booth
- reconstruct the 50 yard line film position
Chargers will attempt to expand
- new bar area in loge level endzone
Chargers will investigate feasibility of moving season ticket holders, Centerplate would be pursued for the cost to build
- wireless scanners fore parking & ticket gates
awaiting final bid...proposed split with chargers/city
- Sirius radio installation in press box
apparently not feasible
- Marquee on Friars Road
City will pursue replacement
- drink rails in club lounges
Chargers and Centerplate to discuss
- new barstools in club lounges
Centerplate to pursue
- trash can in club level
City to address and fix
- new carpet in premium level and lounges
City to pursue the concourses, Centerplate to be asked about the lounges
- vinyl wall covering in up to 40 suites
City to replace at cost of up to $30000
- new parking lot signage and color coordination
attempt to get new parking lot vendor to provide
- restripe parking lot
attempt to get new parking lot vendor to provide
- video wall in working press area
to incorporate into plan to replace monitors
- suite remodels
Chargers to pursue with HOK
- new furniture for suites
Chargers to provide City with list of needs for barstools (50?) and sofas (20?)
- suite repairs
ongoing City maintenance
- addition of restrooms in Spanos suite
Chargers to handle
- cleaning, leaks, painting
ongoing City maintenance
- construction remodel of premier suite
City to provide up to 80 chairs ($165 each), Chargers to continue buildout, City to assist with permit issue
- relocation of phone room
City/Chargers to find suitable location
- relocation of Custom Antennae office and storage area
City/Chargers to find suitable location
- down converter for HD for FOX, ABC and ESPN
City to secure
- Command booth remodel and expansion
Chargers to remove the wall, and find replacement seats for other events
As the football season approached, the Chargers' stadium operations manager, Christian Webb, sent a list of maintenance problems to building-maintenance supervisor Steve Wightman. The subject of the JUNE 28 memo was "Suites Stuff"; Webb gave suite addresses and outlined problems with each.
Steve -- During my quick rounds I have these items to note'
P9B -- there seems to be a whole chewed (rat?) in one of the ceiling tiles by slider door. Please check
P3A & B -- door handle sticks, needs adjusting
P2A -- smells
L16B -- door threshold leaking
Also -- can we still get together and discuss steps taken for rusty ceiling tile frames. There are many on press level.
I was hoping to hear that Mac would be doing similar to Tom Ritz in the way of preventative maintenance. Tom does a great job with ice makers, HVAC and fridges.
Would love to have all door handles and hinges checked by Mac.
On JULY 12, Wightman e-mailed Sean O'Connor, the Chargers' director of marketing and events, with a recap of the team's demands for new furniture for some stadium skyboxes. Subject: "Charger Upgrades."
Sean -- Just wanted to touch base with you about our meeting yesterday with Bruce and Jim relating to the upgrades. In particular, we need to look at getting the new chairs for the Premier Suite ordered since it normally takes 4-6 weeks. I spoke with our Purchasing Dept and if we use the city's existing contracts there's no bidding. I'll get you the companies we have on contract and, hopefully, you can pick style, color, etc out from their catalogs. At $165 per for 80 chairs that is $13,200. Let's talk about some of the other items also. Thanks -- Steve
The next day, JULY 13, Wightman wrote Christian Webb, the Chargers' stadium operations manager, about the progress in obtaining the new chairs.
Spoke with Arenson Office Furniture (co we have on contract) and they do have that chair! I'm initiating the paperwork from our end and it should be submitted before the end of the day to purchasing.
Not all the e-mails had to do with stadium business. Many times, they dealt with obtaining tickets to coveted games, like this one, dated JULY 27, from Christian Webb to Mike McSweeney, the stadium marketing manager. Subject: "hate to even ask..."
So John Lucas has hit me up for tickets for Friday night. I hate to ask, but do you know if you will have any extra to offer me/him? He is looking for 6, I told him he'd be lucky with 2 or 4.
McSweeney responded soon after.
Let me see what I can do. Happy to do it.
On JULY 28, Charger chief operating officer Jim Steeg queried stadium manager Bill Wilson and McSweeney about stadium upgrades.
Can you help me get the list of how the $500,000 you have allocated to the stadium is being spent?
That same day, Webb e-mailed O'Connor and Steeg with details on "drink rails/ new table tops" for the stadium's premium club level. The e-mail refers to the Americans with Disabilities Act and to Centerplate's manager, Scott Marshall.
Attached you should find two (2) quotes for the new drink rails and table tops for the Club Level. Quick summation: Ten (10) new drink rails to be added -- 8' $239.10 each x8 = $1,912.80 labor -- $1,450 brackets for each rail: $36 per, 4 per table = $1,440 total for drink rails: $4,802.80 Raising the current table tops to belly-bar height of thirty-seven (37) existing sit-down tables: 26.40 per new shaft to raise tables x 37 = $976.80 Labor -- $2,950.00 Total for raised belly bars: $3,926.80 ADA will not be affected by these changes as we are leaving current ADA tables the same, as well as current drink rails for them Obviously there are some other factors we must look at: City will need to remove and replace carpet swatches where seats are being removed on Club Level. If City will do the labor in installing the drink rails and new shafts -- that could save some labor costs ? Scott Marshall has been inquiring on this as well. Let me know next step CSW
Later that day, McSweeney, the stadium marketing manager, wrote Bruce Herring in the city manager's office, briefing him on the progress of the drink rails.
We finally have an idea as to what exactly the concept is. Between Centerplate, Chargers and us, there were several versions floating out there. Rails on one side only, raised tables-no chairs-no rails etc..After conferring today, it is finally
- Raise the 36 tables to bar height. Excepting ADA designated tables
- Take out all bolted chairs.
- Install 11 8' drink rails on both sides of concourse. Placement of bars is Centerplate and stadium responsibility. (Centerplate recommends we go with 6' vs. 8' rails as they will be easier to place. 3.Stadium repatches carpet holes.(Jehovah Witnesses will perform the work, we have carpet in stock)
We need to confirm that parts supplied from Edgemold is contained in the Commecial Sales quote. We're ready to go.
About a week later, on AUGUST 4, McSweeney, the stadium marketing manager, e-mailed the Chargers' Sean O'Connor and cc'd Christian Webb and Jim Steeg with details about who would pay for what.
Moving this off center ground.
Commercial Sales Bid: 4400
Chargers buy, Commercial does the labor. City reimburses Chargers $6078. Christian coorndinates. (Sorry Christian) Good to go?
The same day, Charger chief operating officer Jim Steeg replied, alluding to the fact that assistant city manager Bruce Herring, who has since resigned, did not want the city to write a check directly to the Chargers. Subject: "Drink Rails."
I thought bruce was trying to avoid a check to us ... Will do if that is the way to go, but want to make sure that is what bruce wanted ... Otherwise YES!
On AUGUST 16, Cecilia San Pedro, an employee of the city auditor's office, wrote Steve Wightman, the stadium building-maintenance supervisor, with a question about an order for loveseats.
Can you please let me know what these chairs are for? Thanks.
Wightman responded the same day:
I'm not sure exactly what you're referring to...
I believe you're referring to the 113 Charger Executive Suites that each have "loveseats" or couches. The Suites each have a carpeted area with loveseats, chairs, barstools, tvs, refrigerators, ice makers, bathrooms, sinks and countertops that all have a field view separated by glass doors that go to outside seating. The stadium (city) is responsible for maintenance, repairs and refurbishment of everything inside and outside of those suites.
If it's chairs that you're referring to, then it could be the 200 chairs for the pressbox or the 80 executive chairs for the Charger Suite renovation.
Let me know if it's not any of these items.
San Pedro responded the next day, AUGUST 17:
Good Morning Steve,
I apologize for not providing any details. I have a PO for approval to purchase 20 Houston Blue Lovseats from Mor Furniture, and you were listed as the contact person. Are these for the Suites? What do we do with the old ones? Thanks.
Wightman came back about an hour later:
Yes, those are for the suites. The old ones we use for the security, ushers and parking personnel offices and sign-in areas here at the stadium. Basically, we move the old tattered, ripped and broken ones from the vip suites to the operational areas if they can be used at all.
On AUGUST 19, Charger honcho Steeg complained to stadium manager Wilson about Padres signs around the stadium. His e-mail was headlined "A real stupid question."
Why does every "how to get to your seat" sign have padres information that does not even exist anymore? It is really embarrassing and appears that no one ever walks the building...think you have liability issues as it has misinformation on the signage...would make mike aguirre cringe
On AUGUST 20, the day before the Chargers played the Saint Louis Rams in the first preseason game at Qualcomm Stadium, Steeg e-mailed Wilson, who was planning to retire in October. Subject: "Extremely disappointed."
I am coming to understand that I must lower my expectations as to what is acceptable at Qualcomm Stadium. I just walked the building and came away totally unimpressed, if not embarrassed fro everyone that will claim they work there. It seems that there is no concerted effort to strive for excellence. The building not only has things that look sloppy (which I do not understand since it has been unoccupied since January), dirty, not up to date, but projects that were green lighted in March are no where near completion. It seems that if our contractors and the Centerplate contractors were not doing things that are not their responsibilities that the building would be a total embarrassment. It seems to me that on your last days in this facility that you would want it to "shine". I can not believe that you want your last games to be remembered with this legacy.
I gave everyone one game to see what they believed to be their standards, and now understand that the pride is just not there. I am going to write you Monday on everything that is wrong. If you can not complete then we will have to hire outside firms and bill the city to complete the projects.
You took offense to the letter I wrote Bruce and now I take offense to the quality of the work done in the building. I thought you might use that letter as motivation to prove me wrong.
The last game was in January ... no longer can the excuse of not enough staff be used -- I figure that there have been over 160 working days between games, with 22 staff that is over 3500 days of work.
We are not going to accept half efforts, this is not going to be the
same old, same old!
On AUGUST 22, the day following the game, Wilson responded.
I agree with most of what you say. Think it is time for you and I to sit down with Steve Wightman and hear what we have to deal with. This will not be an "excuse session" but just the facts.
On AUGUST 24, Charger chief operating officer Steeg was back at stadium manager Wilson with more complaints. Subject: "Stadium issues from 8/21."
I have attempted to compile a list of the concerns that I saw and those that were communicated to me during and immediately following the game against the St. Louis Rams.
This is a summary of the immediate concerns that we have to prepare for the game on September 1 and is not an all encompassing list. It also does not address the long term maintenance issues that exist.
I am traveling tomorrow and Friday, but would recommend that you talk this over with your staff and then we can meet Monday morning to discuss these in detail.
Wilson e-mailed back on AUGUST 25.
On Monday I am taking an all day physical, however Tues. is completely open, I have discussed the list with Steve Wightman and we will get to all the Major operational issues that we can. Some items take time, like ordering goal post pads.
The comment about the field puzzles me. There was some thatch that came up from the 3 hour scrimmage the day before, but it played exceptionally well. We will have to resod it but probably not before the 4 High School games. (Dec. 13th.).
Send Steve Wightman an email or call him about a time to meet Tuesday. We'll be there.
On AUGUST 28, Centerplate manager Scott Marshall e-mailed Christian Webb, the Chargers' stadium operations manager, about the condition of television sets in the premium club level.
We tested all the televisions on the Club Level today, the following is a list of televisions that are not operational and need repair:
- Club 21 Concourse (Large TV)
- Club 30 Lounge (third from right around the room when facing into lounge).
- Club 33 Concourse
- Club 35 Concourse
- Club 36 Concourse
- Club 37 Concourse
We have marked the ones that need to be fixed with a white repair notice. I'm not sure who jurisdiction this falls in, so I thought I start with you!
On AUGUST 31, the day before the Chargers played the San Francisco 49ers, television sets were at the top of stadium manager Bill Wilson's list. In an e-mail to the Chargers' Jim Steeg entitled "Press TV's," Wilson worried that Union-Tribune sports writers Nick Canepa and Tim Sullivan might complain about the new press room TVs being too small for their taste.
Just a heads up. In my travels today I noticed the new flat screen 27" TV's in the press box. My guess is Canepa and Sullivan are going to sound on the size. They are used to those big babies that we are keeping in storage in case you decide to re-install them.
In general the place looks pretty good. We will be painting Guest Services next week in time for the opener. A lot of TV work needs to be done and there is only one guy (who is busy installing the new stuff on the press level).
At 11:07 p.m. on SEPTEMBER 1, after the Chargers game against the San Francisco 49ers, Charger guest services director David Anderson reported yet more television troubles to Chargers senior director of ticket sales and service Todd Poulsen. This time the problem was in the luxury suites, where the most exclusive stadium seats are located.
Todd, I was called up to 2 suites in regards to the condition of their televisions. They were both very upset with our response to their situation. In Press 61A, both of their outside televisions have been broken since last year. One of them doesn't even turn on. In Loge 39B, the one outside television has also been broken since last year. Needless to say, they are not happy. What can we do to rectify this problem? They are both expecting resolutions before the Dallas game. Thanks DA
On SEPTEMBER 2, another game-day issue arose. Chargers staffer Amy Schreiber wrote Poulsen and vice president Ken Derrett about break-ins at some skyboxes. The e-mail was headlined "Serious Issues with Suites Yesterday." Somebody, it seemed, was stealing food and beer.
There a couple of very serious issues with suite yesterday.
- Press 1A (Tarrah Asphalt) & L30A (Attila-tek) both had their refrigerators stocked after the St. Louis game and when they arrived yesterday everything was gone. We checked with Centerplate who inventoried their items and they did indeed have it in there so sometime between St. Louis and San Francisco someone came in and took their beer, water and soda out of the fridge. Both were very upset and at least L30A would like an explanation of what happened and wants someone held accountable.
- I found out this morning that someone entered Mesa Distributing Suite sometime between an hour before the game and kick-off and basically "looted" them. See email below. My staff is up there to prevent this from happening but we don't have enough people for someone to be stationed in front of one or two suites and check tickets * they are roaming.
"This is to follow up on my voicemail to both of you on the incident that occurred in Mesa's Skybox (Loge 36A) last night. When the retailer that was given access to yesterday's box arrived about half an hour prior to kick off, he found that all but one soda had been drank and that half of the hot dog bar was either on the floor of the suite or had been eaten. The retailer was forced to pay out of pocket for additional food and drink. Also, one of our draft guys went into the suite to check on it about an hour before the game and it was fine, so that gives us an idea of when this occurred. Please advise on how we can avoid this security breech from happening in the future."
Responding to the reports of theft, stadium manager Bill Wilson fired off an e-mail to Jim Steeg the same day.
This has been a long standing problerm over the years. Many eons ago we kelp the Sky Boxes closed until the holder showed up. If anything was then stolen it was because they left the box after the game and left the door open. To eleminate the accusation that the clean up people were the culprits we just spent a considerable sum to re-key all the locks. None of our people have a key to the luxury suites. In these two cases it looks like roaming theives who came in with tickets. There is a lot of migration after the games (I have seen it in Center Plate's suite). This is a serious security issue that must be addressed.
Steeg demanded action.
Can we put a police presence there for a few games? Have them roam and challenge? Arresting and jailing one person will end it
Wilson agreed and then went on to cast suspicion on Centerplate workers.
Police in uniform will prevent thefts. If you want to catch the bastards I recommend Elite in soft clothes, blending in with the fans. They (the thieves) are probably trying doors. Of course it could be the Center Plate people also. We have caught them in the past.
On SEPTEMBER 4, the day after the SDSU Aztec game against the UCLA Bruins, Jim Steeg was back complaining to Bill Wilson about TVs. Subject: "Well...strike 18"
One of the last points of emphasis to our TV group and Valdez in particular...the preident of SDSU and the new AD were using the Spanos box for the game vs UCLA, so the TV's need to be right for that...well what do we get? There is no direct feed from the truck so they have to watch ESPN 2 which is on a 5 second delay plus has the USC game on prior to SDSU.... What do they get ....the USC game well into the 1st quarter and then the delay on the TV. As they say you only have one time to make a first impression. Certainly impressive for donors!
I assume that the university is now as livid as we are.
To give another the sports council box got nothing at all unless you consider that FOX6 came in with the UCLA radio broadcast as the sound, seinfeld is great with the UCLA radio.
Tuesday is a big day!
The same day, Steve Wightman, the building-maintenance supervisor, told stadium manager Bill Wilson and stadium marketing manager Mike McSweeney about a rowdy fan who got out of control at the Aztec game due to lack of security.
The security guard (Paul), a City Events employee whose post is inside the East Tunnel before and during the game, does a great job...is very conscience. During the early part of the 3rd Qtr a drunk got from the E-ADA elevators out the side door and into the East Tunnel where he was challenged by Paul. The guy decked Paul and left up the tunnel to the parking lot. Paul went down and got the groundcrew who then called security and asked them to bring PD. After a lengthy time a security guard showed up without PD and talked to Paul. The other guard then went up to the lot where the guy was and began talking to him...don't know what happened after that I think the point is, that SDSU needs to have 3 guards in this area on large-crowd games (1 guard at bottom of E-ADA elevators, 1 guard at top of E-Tunnel and 1 guard at bottom of E-Tunnel). Paul does not have a radio either which I think would help.
On SEPTEMBER 6, one of the biggest disputes of the season erupted between the city and the Chargers when the team demanded that the word "Chargers" and the team's logos be emblazoned on the stadium turf, in violation of previous custom. Building-maintenance supervisor Steve Wightman gave the news to his boss, Wilson. Subject: "Charger Logos."
Bill -- Sean has talked to Bill Gibbs and wants San Diego in W endzone and Chargers in E endzone along with a larger bolt in the center and 2 opening day logos as per NFL. He hasn't talked to me and I'm assuming he hasn't talked to you either. What do you want to do?
The same day, Wilson e-mailed Charger chief operating officer Jim Steeg:
I thoughjt we agreed at our last meeting to put a Charger Helmet in the center (will cover up the Aztec logo nicely), two opening day logos at the 20's and San Diego in both end zones. If we didn't have three tenants in the Stadium it would be no problem to put Chargers in one end zone, however it will be impossible to cover and repaint something else in the Charger end zone for Aztec (particularly the three back to back games) and for the Holiday Bowl and Pointsettia Bowl games. Additionally we don't have time to resod and repaint that Charger end zone for any of the afore mentioned events. Also it would be apprectiate if these requests would come through our supervisors and not at the level of execution.
Steeg was not deterred, so Wilson wrote him again on SEPTEMBER 7. Subject: "Field Decorations."
I implore you to reconsider your decision to paint Chargers in the East End Zone because of the negative impact it will have, not only on the playing surface but the ill-will it may create with the Aztecs and the Holiday Bowl.
There are five Aztec games (3 back to back) and two Bowl games that will be affected. There is no way for our three man crew to overlay any Aztec or Holiday Bowl decorations which they may request especially for the back to back games.
Over the years all of our Tenants have somewhat-happily coexisted with San Diego in both end zones, with the use of a little different background color to the block SAN DIEGO. I realize Dean and Sean have wanted Chargers in the end zone and we will be more than happy to resod the entire end zone or both for any and all post season games and paint CHARGERS in one or both end zones.
When Steve talks about resodding it is usually done between the numbers. We have never had to resod an entire end zone. It looks like we will be resodding at least twice this season down the middle and I have asked Steve to go a little wider after observing the extensive wear from the 4 championship High School games.
This morning Bill Gibbs told me the Aztec logo will be gone by Sunday and he would rather paint the Lightning Bolt in the Center. I'm O.K. with that, what say you? We will also paint the opening day logos on the 20's.
Let me know if you can go with the San Diego until the end of the season and I promise the end zones will look good.
Apparently, it was all too much for Steeg, who fired back at Wilson 21 minutes later:
Something has to be done to change the attitude and this is very important to us. I am so depressed about the facility and the work ethic, all I get is excuses and statements that issues "magically" occur. When we "loan" suite to sdsu the carpet gets trashed ... Somebody PLEASE show me that they care! Wouldn't it have been refreshing if sdsu offered to clean the carpet?
Let's be honest about the Aztecs -- they have no national TV games and will probably draw less than 20000 for each of the remaining games. The rent sdsu pays is ??, ours is $2.5+ million, correct? Have they contributed anything to upgrade the stadium this year? Just tell me where they have spent any money to make things better. Tell me how tenants coexist in giants stadium -- let's look at other stadium fields -- metrodome, superdome, foxboro, arizona, Pittsburgh -- all these have tenants including college teams playing with the nfl team ... Now as far as the holiday bowl, how is it solves in tampa, miami, Jacksonville, new orleans, atlanta, houston, phoenix, detroit -- all have bowl games and nfl teams, how do these handle the issue?
Bill I have always been a compromiser, but I feel that we always get pushed around to help everyone else ... Someone needs to step up and help us. I cave on this and what do we get in return? Does the holiday and poinsetta bowls recant on their advertising conflicts? Does sdsu spend money to improve the stadium? Do they even complain about things that are wrong, or do we carry that and always look like the bad guy? Give me something to respond to?
Wilson's follow-up 27 minutes later attempted to soothe Steeg by talking about support for a new stadium.
I empathize with your frustration. I share it. I know you see it as caving but somewhere down the line I see the Aztecs, The International Sports Council and the Holiday Bowl Committee and myself as allies in your quest for a new facility.
All the Stadiums you mentioned that share fields have artificial turf. When Arizona State and the Cardinals repainted their endzones every game it looked horrible (according to Steve Wightman they used a crew of twelve or fourteen).
Tell us what you want for this game and we'll do it.
On SEPTEMBER 9, Abby Silverman, a Chargers lawyer, e-mailed deputy city attorney Eugene Gordon to complain that the City had still not complied with the terms of a court settlement requiring that the stadium be retrofitted with seating for the disabled. Subject: "Wheel chair/temporary seating."
I never heard from you in response to my August 19 letter regarding the number of wheelchair spaces which have been drilled to accommodate temporary seats. I understand that little or no progress has been made since that date.
As you know this season, most games are sold out. Therefore, Mike Dougherty has no ability to provide seats for people who have purchased wheel chair spaces but do not have a wheel chair. As stated before, we cannot predict which of the wheel chair spaces will need to be converted for any given game and therefore need to have all the spaces able to accommodate one of the 40 temporary seats which should be available. Can you tell us how and when the City plans to comply with Judge Papas' May 3, 2005 order?
Gordon responded on SEPTEMBER 13.
Abby, my apologies for the delayed response. My understanding is that the City has done the necessary work to accommodate 40 temporary seats. I am trying to verify with Mike McSweeney.
On SEPTEMBER 14, Jeff Schemmel of San Diego State weighed in with stadium manager Bill Wilson on the Chargers' demand to paint the field with their logos. Subject: "End Zones at Qualcomm Stadium."
This email is to remind you and to put SDSU on record regarding the end zones at Qualcomm for our remaining five home games.
As we have discussed, our expectation is that, at the very least, there will be no "Chargers" in either end zone for our games. To have that is inappropriate for SDSU, your other major tenant, and certainly not consistent with the intent of our agreement or the expectation of the parties. The intent of our agreement is simply to have six Saturdays each year devoted to the Aztecs. That includes field markings.
I want to remind you that I have suggested washable paint that has been used at other stadiums. paint that is a mixture of chalk and water and that can simply be removed with water and a hose. I know this worked at the old Met Stadium in Minneapolis, where the Vikings and Twins shared a field for years. And I suspect the technology is much better today than then.
We pledge to do anything and everything to make this work, and to support both you and the Chargers in every way we can that is mutually beneficial.
Jeff, I am copying you on this, and asking you to distribute to fellow Board members, as I do not have their email addresses. Jim, I am copying you so that we can continue our mutual dialogue on how we can all improve our situations.
Thanks very much. I look forward to working with you to make this work. Jeff
On SEPTEMBER 19, Wilson attempted to assuage Schemmel.
Both end zones will say SAN DIEGO for the remainder of your games. There will be no logo in the center of the field for your San Jose State game due to the back to back situation.
Looking ahead on the calendar we will be able to paint your end zones black for the BYU game on October 1st. and for the New Mexico game.
We will also evaluate mid field for these games to see if there is enough grass to handle your logo.
One of the big problems we are experiencing is all the extra practice (this Friday it's San Jose State, the Aztecs and then the Chargers followed by the Sky Show practice on the field. George Thoma used to say "You can't grow grass on a freeway". We will have to re-sod the middle of the field twice this season and that basicly is due to all the traffic.
Hope you understand.
Thanks for your suggestion on washable paint. We have tried three different washable paints. They work really well on artificial surfaces but on a grass field that is heavily used and played on the next day they proved to be a disaster. The turf is wet and tears up quickly during the second game. We make it a practice not to water after Wednesday for a Saturday game.
We take a lot of heat on the aesthetics of the playing surface and it's not because we don't care, however I have not seen anyone slip this year. Now that we have overseeded with rye (to green up the worn middle), longer cleats will help prevent slipping but a lot of players insist on using the short moulded cleats and then compounding the problem by taping wads of tape under and around their shoes and ankles. I have seen some disasterous results with some great running back slipping and falling. The instance that immediately comes to mind is the first half of our first Super Bowl when the Redskin players, after slipping and sliding all over the field, came back with long cleats in the second half and literally blew out the Denver Broncos. The Broncos made no shoe changes and continued to slip their way to a losing Super Bowl.
On SEPTEMBER 21, Charger stadium operations manager Christian Webb wrote Charger chief operating officer Jim Steeg and Charger director of marketing and events Sean O'Connor complaining that the city had stopped paying for the Chargers' X-ray services. Subject: "x-ray headache."
Guys -- here is the latest headache with the X-Ray room...
The City is not paying for the monthly service charge for the company to come and take care of the chemicals, screens, etc...
On average, per month, the total cost will be around $100. They (the X-ray Company) will NOT come out this Friday to prep the room for this weekend if they do not have a PO to do the work.
We need to decide if this is: City deal (as SDSU and other sports will use it) or if this is on us. I just can not let this slip through and be unavailable for this weekend.
Thanks for your comments
The problem of the day on SEPTEMBER 23 was the Union-Tribune, as outlined in an e-mail from Charger vice president Ken Derrett to the city's stadium marketing manager Mike McSweeney. Subject: "UT and Parking Lot."
Mike, the last two games the Union Tribune was on site at the stadium selling papers and handing out cheer cards they were not authorized to do.
Need to get your opinion on whether they have the right to be on site vending papers if we don't approve. Or is the parking lot deemed to be a location they have rights to regardless of what is going on in the stadium.
We'll handle the cheer card issue. Appreciate your response at your earliest convenience.
Six days later, on SEPTEMBER 29, McSweeney issued his response.
I looked into the UT situation. First off, I agree with you. They should be approved as a sponsor of Charger Football. But looking into it. apparently, the stadium has issued a Sidewalk Use permit for the newspaper selling in the past. The permit allows for selling in the lot up to 1 hour prior the event after which, selling is allowed on the sidewalks outside the stadium. They had applied for and recieved from the stadium admin office a permit for the past game. I've found that this is a stadium policy, used by not only the UT but USA Today.
I think we need to look at how we apply this policy. Where it's "policy" I think we can change that practice. Upon my return to the office yesterday, I've been in contact with the City Attorney on the matter and we are exploring the obvious legal impact. From the marketing standpoint, I see it as unapproved, guerilla marketing. From the legal standpoint, we are still researching. There are some non-commercial vs. commercial issues we are running down.
When you have a chance, give me a call. Mike