Sally Roush — who took over as interim honcho of San Diego State University following the departure of Elliott Hirshman in June, just as the fight over who would rule what used be called Qualcomm Stadium hit a boil, — knows how to party.
"In a luxury air-conditioned skybox, just before kickoff, I caught up with Interim President Sally Roush," related the Union-Tribune’s Logan Jenkins in a September 5 column about university merrymaking before the school's football game against UC Davis.
“This is where we should [have] been watching all these years,” said Roush to Jenkins, "alluding to State’s excluded second-class status when high-rolling NFLers ruled the posh aeries."
Noted the columnist, "In years past, State hosted movable feasts in the parking lot, an indignity forced upon the university by sky-high prices for suites and catering service. For Aztec boosters, the Chargers leaving town is a step up in status."
In the heyday of the Chargers, the stadium's skyboxes — except the notoriously well-lubricated city-council suite — were controlled by the team-owning Spanos clan.
The NFL team raked in millions from renting to a well-heeled corporate clientele, while city taxpayers picked up a sizable annual maintenance tab and additional costs. Those included $25,564 for "carpet replacement and installation for 32 suites at the Stadium, per contractual obligations with the Chargers," according to an August 2014 invoice retrieved from city hall.
A September 2012 purchase order showed that $44,000 was spent for "carpet cleanings as needed for Stadium Suites, Clubs, Press Levels per contractual obligation with Chargers."
With the team's departure for Los Angeles, control of the suites has reverted to the city, under the rule of Republican mayor Kevin Faulconer, but the good life for the high and mighty continues.
According to a September 14 agreement obtained from city hall following a request under the California Public Records Act, the city's Real Estate Assets Department has retained the San Diego Bowl Game Association to "sell all suites inside Qualcomm Stadium for all events held inside the Stadium."
The contract, which runs through December of next year, gives the nonprofit association a hefty 30 percent of "sales of suites at the stadium after credit card fees have been deducted." The city has also agreed to "provide complimentary parking passes for suite license holders for all stadium events (approximately one parking pass for every four seats)."
To sweeten the deal further, city hall has thrown in 5 percent of "revenues generated for Stadium signage." The agreement goes on to say that the bowl association may sell the suites "for an entire season or for individual events, at bowl's discretion." The city is "responsible for any and all maintenance and upkeep of all suites in use."
A well-heeled cohort is already taking advantage, according to invoices provided by the city. An "8 event suite" rental set developer Mike Ibe's Western Devcon back $21,120, per an August 25 invoice. On August 3, Bank of America was billed $48,400 for a "10 event suite."
San Diego State Sports Properties, an offshoot of SDSU run by alumnus Duke Little, was invoiced $20,561 on September 18 to cover "balance for seasonal suite."
In all, despite concerns by some of lagging general attendance at the games, SDSU and its affiliates occupied 12 luxury suites, per a listing of tenants for the Davis game. The total included one each for executive staff; Aztec Shops; former president Tom Day; the alumni association; student affairs; business affairs; and directors' cabinet.