It's time to talk sense about the Chargers. San Diego, with a massive infrastructure deficit, a need for bolstering police and fire protection, and voters wising up to the billionaire stadium scam, can't afford and may not get a taxpayer-financed stadium. Financially, the Spanos family may not be able to come up with the money for Inglewood that Rams owner Stan Kroenke might demand, even if, as rumors hint, the National Football League will be in on the Spanos/Kroenke negotiations to be sure the former can afford what the latter is asking.
Actually, San Diego is not a particularly good pro football market. Yes, it is the 17th largest metro area in the nation. But it will lose part of its football market when when a new team or teams occupy Los Angeles. San Diego is only the 28th largest media market. The weather is perfect, so there are lots of things to do rather than watching a football game in a stadium or on TV. Through the decades, the Chargers have not attracted large crowds, compared with teams in some smaller markets. San Diego does not have enough super-wealthy plutocrats to fill luxury boxes or sell personal seat licenses. San Diego's median income levels, adjusted for inflation, do not permit the team to raise ticket prices much.
Neither the Spanos family nor the National Football League wants to chew their nails to see if voters would approve a taxpayer-financed stadium.
One of the big falsehoods of this debate is that Qualcomm Stadium is dilapidated. Compared with football stadiums of the largest universities, and two Major League Baseball ballparks, Qualcomm is relatively young at age 48. Another falsehood is that the team will improve if there is a new stadium. Dallas has the fanciest stadium of all and the team is lousy. John Moores promised the Padres would have a top team if they only got a new ballpark; look what happened. Pro football's draft and salary caps inhibit any team from monopolizing the best players.
Yes, Qualcomm needs a facelift. And there is an avenue for that to get done. The Chargers' contract is up in 2020. The team should get a much more generous naming rights deal than it got (on an emergency basis) from Qualcomm. There is no reason that naming rights should go strictly to a team. They should also go to the home city. So, part of the naming rights, plus part of advertising rights and parking fees, could go toward giving Qualcomm a facelift. The strain on the city's budget could be minimal. The Chargers are making a bundle at Qualcomm now and will continue to do so.
If San Diego builds a $1.1 billion stadium, it will be compared unfavorably with Kroenke's posh $2.6 billion (the latest estimate) stadium just up the road in L.A. So, if the Chargers can't make a deal with Kroenke, even with the NFL's help, the team should go back to a bit prettier Qualcomm Stadium and forget a taxpayer-financed stadium the city (and/or county) cannot afford.