NFL Got Detailed Offer From San Diego Officials For New Chargers Stadium
The city and county are offering a combined $350 million
Two months ago, the NFL got a detailed offer from the city of San Diego and San Diego County that committed a combined $350 million in public spending for a new Chargers stadium, according to records obtained by the online news website Voice of San Diego.
The website published a draft list of terms the city and county were willing to offer the Chargers after threatening to sue the city for the document's release. The term sheet was then provided to KPBS by Mayor Kevin Faulconer's office on Tuesday.
The county would be ready to spend $125 million in July on the stadium if voters approve the project in June, plus an additional $25 million. The city would spend $200 million, but in staggered payments.
Matt Awbrey, the mayor's deputy chief of staff, wrote by email that the term sheet is still in draft form and would need to be negotiated with the Chargers. The football team left the negotiating table with the city in June, and instead has focused on lobbying the NFL to be allowed to move to Los Angeles.
Awbrey emphasized that the terms would put "for the first time a strict cap on the public’s contribution" to a stadium, would make the Chargers responsible for operating and maintaining the new stadium and would ensure "taxpayers are not on the hook for cost overruns by making the Chargers responsible."
Currently, taxpayers are "responsible for 100 percent of the cost for repairing" the Qualcomm Stadium, he said.
"Under the current agreement with the Chargers, taxpayers are already responsible for up to $282 million (in present value) over the next 20 years for operations, maintenance, repairs and debt payments, according to City’s Chief Financial Officer," Awbrey wrote. "The City spends millions of dollars every year from the general fund and tourism occupancy tax for stadium operations — $12.8 million in this fiscal year alone."
Even if a new stadium is built, the city will continue to pay just under $5 million a year for Qualcomm.
In an email, county Supervisor Ron Roberts, who's leading the negotiations on the county's side, responded to a question of how the county would be able to have $125 million on hand immediately and whether the county would spend that money on something else if the stadium isn't built:
"Subject to board approval, the county would allocate up to $150 million of one-time capital project dollars for a new stadium, per a final term sheet that includes timing and which is still to be negotiated and finalized with the Chargers."
Voice of San Diego also obtained a letter from two NFL executives to Chris Melvin, who's handling the stadium negotiations for the city. It lists a few concerns with the city's and county's stadium plan, including uncertainty around the timeline for the project.
But Awbrey wrote that "if the Chargers, City and County agree to a Term Sheet by early next year, the actions necessary to place the item on the June ballot can move forward."
The letter specifically mentions uncertainty around an environmental impact report for the new stadium. The city rushed the environmental review process for its project, finishing it in September, but the letter raises concerns over potential lawsuits that could be filed that would slow down progress.
Awbrey said Gov. Jerry Brown is allowing the project to go through a litigation streamlining process, so "any litigation challenging project approval, including any involving the EIR, would be completed within 270 days, with the project continuing forward during that time period."
Tony Manolatos, a consultant to the mayor on the stadium, said he wasn't surprised by the concerns raised in the NFL's letter because "the NFL works for the Chargers."
"Ever since the Chargers left the negotiating table, the NFL has been serving as their proxy," Manolatos said. But he said the NFL is willing to work with the city and county negotiating team because he thinks the NFL doesn't want to leave San Diego's market.
"The NFL, like the Chargers, wants 100 percent certainty, but 100 percent does not exist when you put the stadium plan up for a public vote," Manolatos said. "We've seen here in San Diego that the citizenry will get behind a good plan. That's what the city and county have put forward."