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Grand Jury Finds Qualcomm Stadium A Losing Proposition For City

A report released today by the county grand jury labels Qualcomm Stadium a losing proposition, finding that the city-owned facility has an annual operating loss of more than $17 million.

Fans walk into Qualcomm Stadium.
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Above: Fans walk into Qualcomm Stadium.

"It goes without saying that the stadium was built for the Chargers and it follows that city revenues from Chargers operations at Qualcomm Stadium should at least cover operating expenses," the grand jury report says.

According to the report, the city's direct operating losses for Qualcomm Stadium in 2010, after crediting net rents paid by the Chargers and excluding efforts by the city to mitigate the shortfall with other events, are about $17.1 million.

The city collects $2.5 million per season in rent from the Chargers, plus 10 percent of any post-season ticket sales, according to the grand jury. The Chargers retain all revenues from sky boxes, advertising and parking at the stadium.

In comparison, the grand jury found that the Tampa Bay Buccaneers pay a fixed rent of $3.5 million per season, plus a minimum of $3.5 million from the sale of club seats and a surcharge of up to $2.50 per ticket for the use of its stadium. The Buccaneers retain parking revenues, advertising and marketing rights for the stadium.

The grand jury also weighed in on plans for a new $800 million stadium for the Chargers. The team is proposing to invest about $200 million to build a 62,000-seat stadium, according to the grand jury. The rest would likely be financed through public tax dollars.

"If the city proceeds with a new publicly financed stadium, the city will have to negotiate materially tighter terms with the Chargers than are currently in place," the grand jury report says.

The grand jury also said a "favorable resolution" needs to be found for the $52 million in outstanding debt from the renovation of Qualcomm Stadium in 1997.

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