In 12 short weeks, the San Diego Chargers will be allowed to begin discussions with other cities interested in hosting the NFL team. The Chargers will be able to get out of their long-term Qualcomm Stadium lease after the 2008 season by paying off the balance of the $60 million in bonds sold in 1997 to pay for stadium improvements. While team officials say all the right things about wanting to remain in the San Diego area without receivng any new public subsidies, many remain skeptical. Nevertheless, at this point, there are reasons to be optimistic a deal can be struck that satisfies both the team and wary taxpayers.
So far, unfortunately, the most concrete development is a negative one: the collapse earlier this year of team-city negotiations that could have led to construction of the new, state-of-the-art stadium the Chargers sought on the Qualcomm site in Mission Valley, combined with a residential-commercial development needed to pay for it. Mark Fabiani, the attorney who's been the team's point man in stadium discussions, says between the complications posed by the city's vast fiscal problems and the monkey-wrenching tactics of City Attorney Michael Aguirre, there is no way investors could be found who would be willing to risk hundreds of millions of dollars on the Mission Valley project. (See Q&A, Page G5)
This leaves, the Chargers say, two alternatives for a new stadium and related mixed-use development: a private site owned by Home Fed Corp. in Chula Vista and a public parcel near the bayfront in National City.