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Roundtable: The Chargers Are Dead To San Diego

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January 13, 2017 1:23 p.m.

The Chargers Skip Town

GUESTS:

Jay Paris, freelance sportswriter

Erik Anderson, KPBS environment reporter

Tony Perry, freelance reporter

Roger Showley, San Diego Union-Tribune growth & development reporter

Related Story: Roundtable: The Chargers Are Dead To San Diego

Transcript:

This is a rush transcript created by a contractor for KPBS to improve accessibility for the deaf and hard-of-hearing. Please refer to the media file as the formal record of this interview. Opinions expressed by guests during interviews reflect the guest’s individual views and do not necessarily represent those of KPBS staff, members or its sponsors.

The Chargers are moving to Los Angeles after 56 years. Fans are upset, the Mayor isn't happy and questions about what happens next are coming from everywhere. I'm Mark Sauer. The KPBS Roundtable starts right now.
Welcome to our discussion of the week top stories. I'm Mark Sauer. Joining me are sports writer and author Jay Paris. It's good to have you back. Big Erik Anderson, freelance journalist Tony Perry. Welcome back and Roger Showley who covers growth and development for the San Diego Union-Tribune. It's good to see you. As shocking news goes, it came like the expect a call from hospice, the big effort to keep the Chargers in San Diego has been on life-support for years. On Thursday morning team owner deems panels -- Dean Spanos pulled the plug. They are now the Los Angeles Chargers. That decision did not sit well and as the years understatement here's what Mayor Faulconer said yesterday.
At the end of the day, the Chargers wanted a lot more taxpayer money than we could have ever agreed to. We could not support a deal that isn't in the best interest of San Diego.
Eric, you cover that conference who was there and tell us the mood.
The Mayor was there, Ron Roberts, San Diego city Council, Elliott Hirschman, member of the Chamber of Commerce. The feeling was one of coming to terms with news that had been made public on the Internet. The Dean Spanos not meeting with the media in San Diego. He released a statement on Chargers.com that announce the decision to move. The mood, it was upfront for some of the members of the people speaking. Yes. People were not pleased with the outcome in this case.
They said things like, the Chargers never were team player they did not operate in good faith, they never were genuine in an effort to stay here.
Ron Roberts, probably do some of the most attention nearly coming to tears during that news event talking about what the team and to him and his family and how he thinks it's really ripping up the same of the fabric of society in San Diego. At the same time, Mayor Faulconer who kind of led the media event also looked toward the future and said this is an opportunity. We have all these great minds to talk about what can be our future and what we can do with the QUALCOMM site. He wants to use that energy to move forward.
We will get to that in a minute. Jay, you have covered this team for decades. You have a book out, were you surprised when Spanos pulled the plug?
I wasn't really surprised. You can see this coming. We all have a left tackle. We were not getting blindsided. Have been working on this for a while and I think just the finality of it or the affirmation that they really were going to do this and what that meant to so many people. I know it my book signings I am signing books and I'm expecting to tell football stories. I have people crying to me and they will telling me -- tell me about going to games. They are such a part of San Diego. It's sunsets, fish Chargers and tacos in the fall. If you think otherwise it is going to be a long season.
If you looked at the different way that Mayor Faulconer and Roberts responded you saw two different ways to look at it. Mayor Faulconer talked about the cost, it would've cost too much.
He also talked about the effort.
Roberts talked about the value of it and what we will lose. I think he talked about -- she indicated how connected we get to these professional teams and the players and there is an emotional value, whether that jumps the cost I don't know.
It may be generational. Roberts is older and there a few charger fans.
A lot of us are from some where else.
The voters made a cost decision and turned down measure Seco -- see -- the value is the trunk. Money talks on the rest walks.
We should see how they came to her in the first place. It tells you why San Diego wanted it. They thought it would put San Diego on the map and it would help tourism and it was a great moment in history to have them come here in the first place.
It showcased the city when it was first taking off.
The owner came because he said he could not compete with the Rams in Los Angeles.
The Chargers play their first game there.
It filled the Colosseum, at that time.
It was a new leak that did not rely on to evolve -- television. The financial relevant is different from the 60s. They will make money from TV.
To wrap up the event yesterday we have a bite from Scott Schuman whose district it is in. He was more blunt.
Two thirds tax increase hasn't passed and I can't remember when. What they did do was put that forward knowing it would not work so they could go to the NFL and convince the NFL that they had no relocation fee [ Indiscernible ] it was financed over a longer period of time.
He's talking about some mock chameleon gamesmanship. A few million dollars to promote that but it was all to get this relocation fee, tell us Eric how much is that?
They will pay $650 million over a number of years the NFL will let them pay back the money slowly. But, if you compare it to what they were offering locally, they were offering a $350 million stadium subsidy but they were willing to pay $650 million to move. People like Scott Sherman have said they didn't feel that they could believe anything that was coming out of Spanos mouth. We are Dean say he wanted to stay in San Diego, we heard them say it was important to him that he thought he had a future if the stadium issue resolved. Dean Spanos parallel to this, did a lot of things that pointed toward her moving to Los Angeles. The day after the NFL decided that the Carson project with the Raiders was dead, that they would give San Diego an option and 12 months to move to LA if they so chose. The day after that they trademark the name LA Chargers and they said it was a business decision just in case. When you look no -- now.
It's heartbreaking, it is the way that it went down and it was so on San Diego. This was East Coast, we will break your kneecaps with Fabiano and the text and the threats. Every Sunday, it was watch Meet the Press, make coffee and wait for the story. Go and kiss babies and be nice. Be San Diego invite someone for Margarita we will work it out. That's the San Diego late. This seems like you better do this or we are out.
Tony, I want to ask you because you've been around so long covering politics in this town. Win the former owner sold them to spend us in the early 80s, -- Spano's -- they brought the Republican national convention to town. This is our tone our adopted city. Teams look great. They spent 10 years trying to get in with all sorts of ideas. How did we get here?
You are right Alex Spano's bought the team a controlling interest for $75 million from Dean Klein. Things are great. He had money he had a Super Bowl he leaves and let's his son, Dean take over. Alex is now 93 and is in severe dementia. He's not been a part of it. It has been Dean's baby. We know what we have gotten since then. Is that a malpractice on the part of Dean Spanos? On a financial look, if you believe Forbes magazine, they say the Rams value doubled overnight.
When they moved from St. Louis.
Will the same thing happen for Spanos family, all four of the siblings work for some part of his organization whether it's construction or whatever. The second generation is also. This is a family business which possibly doubled its value overnight. That's hard to walk away from. However, beautiful La Jolla is.
To be fair, that's only worth something if the team is sold.
When you sell.
It's just like a house, the value of your house can double or triple or quadruple.
It can drop 40% in a recession.
It does not change your life if you are not selling.
There is also the television issue, all the team share equally. Suddenly this is the LA market and their fingers are crossed. They hope it explodes and love the Chargers and the Rams to death. It's a family business and if they are thinking this next generation and so on at some point they will sell it and retire to Tahiti, it will be worth a lot more. At our disadvantage in San Diego.
Let's talk about the only market, they will be the second banana there are examples of two teams around the country that a been there a lot longer, the Angels have been there for 50 years and baseball in the Dodgers shadow. The LA Times said we don't want to. He told them not to come.
Don't believe that. For 20 years, they were begging please to send us a team. Now they want their self-image back.
They may have been bugging but they did not go to public financing and there's a reason why the two biggest stadiums in the LA area, the Rose Bowl and the Colosseum, there was a break after that.
That's why Houston got a replacement team, they paid for it.
People forget, this is not the city of LA, they did nothing to get this. It was Inglewood to carry the water for the region and LA said thank you.
It gave Spanos Lebron's -- leverage. A decade as he likes to tell us, he had put forth plans on how good they were but he had no leverage. Suddenly, with first the Raiders in the Carson and the Inglewood idea he had leverage any used it.
I will come back to you. Here's what Spanos had to say in a letter , our entire organization as we have a tremendous amount of work to do we must earn the respect and support of LA football fans. We have to get back to winning and make a meaningful contribution not just on the field, the community, leader, champions. First of all, you have two lousy teams there. On the pro level. We have to stinkers on the pro level.
That's point I was going to make, just imagine The Roundtable we are comfortable here with a handful of people. In Los Angeles we of the same table with 20 more people. There a lot more mouths to feed in that market.
Melvin Gordon, everybody loves a winner. There's a a joke here. Two on a franchise and make the playoffs nine times. To fire Don, Bobby Ross and Marty Schottenheimer, they have brought back a guy who went Mike Corey -- Mike McCoy. This is a well-run organization at some point they will have to win or hire someone that knows what they're doing.
[ Indiscernible-multiple speakers ]
Let's see.
They ought to be thankful the Lions are in the leak or they would be the worst.
That's a bumpy road.
Sorry mark.
They quoted him about community involvement. That's been one of the concerns about the charges in San Diego they don't provide much in the way of phone topics. They sent the players out to sign autographs and visit schools, even though Dean was here they were not in the same league as Irwin Jacobs, they did not figure into the social --
Yet, the fans loved him. We have a bike to set up and a lot of folks are giving back there souvenirs and jerseys. Daniel Garcia a longtime fan at Chargers Park.
It hurts. I have San Diego Chargers tattooed on my arm. I've been watching games since I was eight years old. I still remember the Super Bowl. For that guy to do that is just wrong. Everything that had San Diego on it with the Chargers I threw it away.
There are a lot of upset people. Does the music stopped for the Chargers in the sense that you won't see another publicly financed stadium in California period?
I think that train left.
The last two, San Francisco and Inglewood.
That is the key, people go they have done it and ever -- other cities and this is not Minneapolis. California is a tough place to get stuff done.
We don't have the corporate heavyweights like Santa Clara, where the San Francisco 49ers are playing. We are still the branch off the city, we love ourselves.
They are at stub hub center, they are selling 30,000 seats with an intimate experience.
It sounds Bush league doesn't it?
They are playing second fiddle to a soccer team.
If they are willing to thirds of the way through the season, many things --
The guys on Park Avenue at -- they are looking down the road. 30 years down the road when we talk about how big LA is, can you imagine.
There is a range of opinion among fans. There are some fans who will continue to watch and support the Chargers. They will be able to go up for a game occasionally, they still support that team. There are some fans who will never watch them again and turn their back whenever they drive through town. It's a whole range of reactions.
What is our chance, okay Raiders, and all is forgiven.
There's a reason the NFL did not give the Chargers the Raiders. [ Indiscernible-multiple speakers ] why would you build a team for your most --
On the other hand they want out of Oakland. There being run out and maybe QUALCOMM doesn't look at it --
We do know they can fill it out.
The Chargers, looking ahead to the city budget. We will still see line items. Are we not going forth? They did the last upgrades and will we pay for that for another decade?
We heard that they owed less unless as they were moving and now they will pay $15 million to leave early. San Diego still as millions to pay an annual debt payment on the expansion of 1998. There is that costs. We may not have the same sort of police presence and that sort required at football games, we of the building to maintain indefinitely until we decide what to do with it.
Let's shift into that discussion. Tell us how big the site is, has there been a reason appraisal? At the big valuable plot.
Hundred 66 acres equivalent to 60 blocks of Downtown San Diego. It's a huge plot of land. The stadium itself covers 15 acres. That's where you start. We have all this else felt surrounding it -- asphalt surrounding it. It's been there forever in most people's lives. What you do with that? As Eric said, San Diego state is thinking about having a West campus develop their with an Aztec Stadium for them for the Aztecs and maybe major league soccer, then you fill up the rest of the land with student housing, faculty activities, it becomes a really cool addition to San Diego state campus.
If you had the soccer stadium presumably the college team plays right there. We don't know where they're going to play were for now.
When the mayors task force said let's build at this property. Immediately, the Chargers had no that's not an option. We don't like it because it this that the other, was that ever credible that that was a no go?
The only reason they did not want Mission Valley is because they wanted to use redevelopment money downtown. In the meantime it went away in there were stop of the Downtown option. They said we will add a convention center and make that -- it costs less for one building into. That was there thinking. That's why was on the ballot.
The Mission Valley site was credible, if financed in a certain way? They were claiming ingress and lawsuits and environmental problems. Was that just --
Can you say that with a straight face?
I'm just saying what they said.
It's at the intersection of two major freeways [ Indiscernible-multiple speakers ]
If it worked well enough for the Chargers
And super Bowls, --
If it works well for one Super Bowl that the NFL brought to San Diego, -- [ Indiscernible-multiple speakers ]
This was scuttling.
I can't hear deep into the heart of Dean Spano's and see what he wanted, based on what I've seen when the city made the offer two days later it was just two days later, it was made public they wanted to go to Carson with the Raiders. The city said here is a plan and Mission Valley and we better that it will work in two days later they said they want to move to Carson and build a house with the Raiders.
Let's look forward to another thing, the money that was going to the idea. That money presumably is there. The mayor talked about raising the tax on tours and we got a lot of other problems and opportunities. What are some things that that money stream might go to instead of the Chargers?
We never did find out what the money stream was, he set up $2 million, the university said we don't have it. It was all funny money.
There's a big firehose of money if they want to raise the tourist tax.
That requires another vote and anyway so Mayor Faulconer give the state of the city address last night and he said I want to raise the tax, the same tax the Chargers wanted, when sent would go to transportation and two cents go to convention center expansion.
That's downtown on the waterfront and that's a hold of the discussion, we of the rising season flooded buildings and all of that stuff. Everything might be below water.
They are always looking for somebody else to pay for things. We will do environmental measures with dirty water if the feds give us money. We will do something with homeless, if we can force visitors to pay.
It's worked for the NFL all of these years back --
It seems like in God we trust all others pay cash.
The Guardian had an article yesterday out of London and they said that they felt like this was the first time that the city had said no to the NFL. They said they did not want to pay a huge exorbitant fee to build a new stadium. They said it was quite a change even in St. Louis. St. Louis was trying to keep the team and they were putting out money locally but it was the first time that that answer have been given back as no and the NFL did not get what they wanted after decades of leaching billions from local communities.
Is this a warning shot heard around the league? Back it could be but California is a different nugget.
We heard Mayor wanting to run for Governor and with one decision with the Chargers, he made the second largest city mad and he made the first largest city people mad because they have to take the Chargers. I'm not sure how that will work
They did a poll asking who was at fault and they said it was 70% Chargers. He's not paying a political price at the moment.
That's interesting in a gets back. He has his legacy and maybe a springboard to run for Governor as a moderate Republican. It depends on what happens now and what his leadership does with the Mission Valley site.
That's half the equation.
He mentioned yesterday, he said he was not running for Governor and he would serve out his four years of marital -- Mayor job.
He would run in 2018?
That was a big challenge for the mayor during this whole process. He had to come across looking like he was doing everything to keep the team here regardless of what happened. I think an objective person could look at that and say he fulfilled that.
I think with his task force he moved more quickly and with greater boldness then we associate with Kevin Faulconer. It was bold but cautious on some city property. But, still that's more than we associate with.
Two seconds, last word.
We needed put that support into measure see, he parachuted in their pretty late so he could say that he supported but he was not holding signs up, let's put it that way.
We have run out of time. Thank you all for that lively discussion. We will hear a lot more on this as we go forward. That wraps up another week of stories at the KPBS Roundtable. I would like to thank my guess Jay Paris, Erik Anderson, Tony Perry and Roger Showley of the San Diego Union-Tribune. A reminder all stories we discussed today are available on our website KPBS.org I'm Mark Sauer thank you for joining us today on The Roundtable.