If nothing else, the knock-down, big-money brawl over the fate of the 165-acre chunk of public land in Mission Valley otherwise known as Qualcomm Stadium would make a good case study for Harvard Business School, where transplanted New York city hedge fund magnate Mike Stone got his MBA back in 1988.
With locals wondering if the city's politics will deliver a land-grabbing victory to the biggest spender, Stone and his well-heeled La Jolla compadres have once again opened their wallets, this time to the tune of a million dollars.
Stone's latest money move comes just days after the megamillionaire and his well-heeled compatriots disclosed March 23 that they had sunk an initial $1,391,599 into their effort to seize control of the Mission Valley acreage by way of a petition drive to force the question to the city council, and if unsuccessful there, to city voters.
In Stone’s hard-nosed Wall Street parlance, pouring cash into the pockets of a bevy of Los Angeles lawyers, campaign consultants, public relations men, and paid signature gatherers is known as "burn rate."
As described by Investopedia.com, the term is "the rate at which a new company is spending its venture capital to finance overhead before generating positive cash flow from operations; it is a measure of negative cash flow. Burn rate is usually quoted in terms of cash spent per month. For example, a burn rate of $1 million would mean a company is spending $1 million per month."
The Stone's team cash burn is now approaching $2.4 million, and disclosure filings show that he and his partners are tapping into their personal funds for the money — in contrast to the billionaire Spanos family, who paid for last year's ultimately failed Chargers stadium initiative with Chargers Football Company money.
Top giver Stone has personally given a reported total of $857,091, filings say, with Jon Dunbar, a partner in Stone's FS Investors, contributing the least, $17,524.
That wouldn’t buy much at Maserati of San Diego on La Jolla's Girard Ave., from which an $85,000 2015 Ghibli was stolen two years ago, but a small monetary investment in the campaign now could grow into millions, insiders say, if the stadium redevelopment deal becomes the law of the land.
With such spectacular stakes, it’s not surprising, critics of the privatization bid maintain, that petition carriers are not always telling the truth about the terms of the 600-page measure, drafted behind closed doors by Stone's group themselves, presumably for their maximum financial gain.
How much the partners could ultimately make and other financial details are tightly guarded secrets. Nick Stone, another FS Partner said not to be related to Mike Stone, has given $43,810 to the cause, as has Univision sports honcho Juan Carlos Rodriguez of Miami, Florida.
Ex-Qualcomm executive Steve Altman has thus far come up with $292,565. Bridgewest Communities, an investment vehicle of the super-rich Tayebi brothers, have mustered $567,265, with Pete Seidler, the wealthy Padres managing partner from L.A.’s Marina del Rey, accounting for $569,532.