By Colleen O’Connor
A-plus to all of you following the Chargers’ stadium saga.
This fight that is spewing more press, ink and arms than an octopu s— while wearing everyone out.
Here is the shorthand version. On one side:
- Chargers will stay in San Diego if a stadium is built downtown with taxpayer subsidies.
- Chargers will stay if voters approve the Chargers’ backed ballot initiative for downtown stadium with subsidies.
- Chargers might stay if the NFL provides bigger subsidies and gets a downtown site.
- Chargers will go anywhere where the taxpayers provide huge construction subsidies for a new stadium and give the team a bigger, more lucrative, TV audience
On the other side:
- Chargers won’t stay if voters approve the Cory Briggs “citizens’ initiative”– which prevents subsidies for a Chargers’ stadium, but allows money for convention center expansion — unless they can tie that up in the courts and find another “subsidy.”
- Enter the hotel/motel self-imposed “tourist room tax” as a possible new “subsidy.”
- And the Chargers’ won’t stay if the Briggs initiative is deemed “illegal” as City Attorney Jan Goldsmith argues (which means lots of costly lawsuits and remaining at Qualcomm).
See the pattern. Simple: taxpayer subsidies and a downtown site are minimum requirements for the Chargers to remain in San Diego.
The problem is that Mayor Kevin Faulconer promised a vote on any use of taxpayer funds for a new stadium.
But, he has already violated that promise with an expenditure of $2.1 million for an “environmental study” of just such a stadium.
A gnarly wrinkle for him. The mayor wants to run for governor, but breaking his promise for a vote would sink his chances. Plus, the taxpayers are still smarting from the expensive “ticket guarantee” gifted to the Chargers, and the rising costs of parking and concessions at the “Q.”
Giving more money to the Chargers is so unpopular, that Faulconer admitted, “I can’t think of one elected official who’s in favor of it.” Small wonder, the ballot initiative is 110 pages lacking specifics.
Understandably, Faulconer wants more time to consider all of the legal, financial, and political consequences of any new stadium. And to get some serious questions answered.
So, Dean Spanos (the team’s owner) has decided — after threatening to leave; trying to leave; being rejected by LA competitors and the NFL; and angering fans — that he can deliver the goods himself.
He announced that he will be “the front man” to get — you guessed it — a new downtown stadium with subsidies.
The problem for Spanos is that he is the wrong mascot for the Chargers, be they LA Chargers, San Diego Chargers, Las Vegas Chargers, Oakland Chargers, Denver Chargers, etc.
But, he isn’t the only one carrying unfavorable baggage.
The NFL, itself, is under greater scrutiny since the movie “Concussion” highlighted the brain-damage, serious injuries, and suicides among NFL players; plus the recurring episodes of drug use and domestic violence.
Hence, the image problem and the need for a new mascot (regardless of which side you are on).
My suggestion is the wildly popular, real-life escape artist, “Inky the Octopus,” who recently executed a daring night-time escape from his glass enclosure in a New Zealand aquarium.
Inky’s escape has garnered world-wide press and amazement worthy of his name.
Why and how could this happen?
Perhaps Inky was tired of being trapped behind glass and viewed by a noisy, ogling public.
Evidently, he found a hole in his tank, crawled out, crossed the aquarium floor, then made his way to the ocean!
Or as the marine biologists discovered:
“Inky quietly crossed the floor, slithered through a narrow drain hole about six inches in diameter and jumped into the sea. Then he disappeared.”
“Inky’s escape surprised few in the world of marine biology, where octopuses are known for their strength, dexterity and intelligence.”
Would that we could find the strength, dexterity and intelligence to follow Inky — a possible new Charger’s mascot — and escape the Stadium saga.
I am certain Mayor Faulconer would welcome just such an option.
Colleen O’Connor is a retired college history professor.