The beginning of the end of the San Diego Chargers is easy to pinpoint. It was the afternoon of March 26, 2000 in Palm Beach, Fla. before the NFL annual spring owners meeting started.
This reporter asked a simple question of then team owner Alex Spanos. “Are you unhappy that the San Diego Padres got a new stadium from the city?” The answer came quick and was to the point. “We feel we need a new stadium,” said Spanos. “We are having our problems there. We love San Diego and we are hoping between now and the next few years that they may reconsider and build us a new stadium. That stadium now is 34 years, 35 years old. They put somewhere between $70 and $80 million into the stadium. But we need a new stadium.”
With that statement, San Diego elected officials were told get a stadium built. It never happened.
San Diego was building a new baseball park. John Moores, who was the Padres owner then, was also helping to redevelop an area around the new baseball park. The city kicked in $299 million in bonds for the $445 million project. The Padres stadium project was a problem.
“I don’t like that at all, but I take my hat off to the Padres,” said an almost envious Spanos talking about the baseball team getting a new place. ‘They did one great job putting that thing together. We just got improvements, they are getting a new stadium. They are very fortunate, they got what they wanted and it was well deserved. As far as I am concerned though, we need a new stadium.”
It took 16 and a half years but San Diego had a stadium plan for Spanos’s son Dean. It went to a November vote and lost. The game is all about stadium revenue and getting well-heeled customers in new stadiums not sports.
By Evan Weiner For The Politics Of Sports Business
This article was republished with permission from the original publisher, Evan Weiner.