16 Years Since I Was Public Enemy #1 in San Diego
It has been 16 years since San Diego Chargers owner Alex Spanos expressed his unhappiness that the city of San Diego was uninterested in giving him a new municipally funded football stadium. Spanos had an old stadium at that point which was built in the 1960’s. Even though he had a sweetheart deal with the city which renovated the old place and bought unsold tickets so he would have sellouts, it wasn’t enough. He wanted a new facility. Spanos’ son Dean now runs the team and even though San Diego and the Spanos family have a deal in place to build a new stadium, the two sides hit a significant roadblock that may detour the plan.
The California State Supreme Court last Wednesday blocked a March lower court ruling that said tax increases such as the San Diego stadium proposal needed approval from two-thirds of voters instead of a simple majority. It was going to be hard enough for the football stadium proponents to get to 50.1 percent of the vote. Getting 67 percent is a tall order. The ruling did not target the San Diego initiative solely and the decision will be appealed.
The Chargers ownership had hoped to get a stadium referendum before the voters in November and have a new stadium, with the voters saying yes, sometime around 2020. Chargers ownership has submitted a petition with nearly 111,000 names requesting a November vote and the San Diego Registrar of Voters is reviewing the paperwork and will decide the validity of the signatures by next week. Chargers ownership is hoping the signatures are legitimate and get the stadium issue before voters. Much of sports is not about the game. The NFL takes in billions annually in revenue and is successful in part due to government partnership where municipality pays for the factory. The Chargers stadium drive may be down to one final play.
By Evan Weiner for The Politics of Sports Business.
This article was republished with permission from the original publisher, Evan Weiner.