By Colleen O’Connor
Let’s cut to the chase. San Diego must have a new football stadium for five good reasons.
1. We have already solved the problem of homelessness.
The mayor has made it his priority this year; so that is fixed. Forget that the official count of those on the streets is now 8,700 — an increase of almost 3 percent from last year.
The city can and does just move them out of sight (so if you can’t see them, they don’t exist). Move them from downtown to Hillcrest. From Mission Hills canyons to the bridges and overhangs near Fuller Liquor and along the San Diego River. Ocean Beach doesn’t count because everyone there looks almost homeless.
No need to waste precious money on the homeless. Build a stadium. Let the homeless sleep in the old one.
2. The city’s finances are in the pink (not the red).
Forget that the pension funds are nearly $2.4 billion underfunded. And this with the assumption of 7 percent annual return on investments. Seen any of those rates anywhere but in a Ponzi scheme?
Read the mayor’s report. San Diego is in the pink. Do not believe the independent budget analysts’ findings that the City is deeply in the red.
The mayor’s outlook projected a relatively small shortfall of $37 million.
The independent budget analyst says the deficit is $57 million.
The mayor sees a $40 million surplus in fiscal 2021. The independent analyst foresees a $23 million deficit. A rather large discrepancy.
But what is $20 million here or there? A new football stadium can resolve that.
3. The city’s current subsidy is insufficient.
The $20 million a year to subsidize aged Qualcomm Stadium is apparently not enough for the billionaire Dean Spanos.
Don’t bother looking at the long term gains.
“The Spanos family paid $70 million to buy the team in 1984. For the owners, keeping the Chargers at ancient Qualcomm preserves an 84 percent annual return on that initial investment — not counting an estimated 2,800 percent increase in the team’s market value,” according to the San Diego Union-Tribune.
More money to be had by staying put.
After all, he won a ticket-guarantee from Mayor Susan Golding (where the taxpayers paid for all empty seats) when she wanted to run for an expensive statewide office. Imagine what Spanos might get for contributing to the mayor’s looming statewide campaign.
Forget Spanos’ determination to get to Los Angeles. He doesn’t mean it.
That leaves those pesky taxpaying voters.
Which brings me to reason No. 4 why we MUST subsidize a new football stadium.
4. The voters don’t know better.
Voters decided nearly 60 percent to 40 percent that they did not want to pay any amount of money to build a new temple to concussions and scandals to sponsor billionaire owners and their overpaid NFL teams.
But, what do these “under-informed” voters know? Let’s have another vote, with another bunch of numbers that are more cotton candy than reality and then we can win. Use the Trump handbook: “Make San Diego Great Again” — Build a Stadium!
Or sell it as an “education complex!” It is just the messaging that needs fixing.
5. And of course we already have a “winning ” team in the city.
You know, the 5-11 season was good enough for a 4th place finish in the AFC West. So what if there are only four teams competing.
This season shouldn’t tarnish next year’s potential — if only we had a new stadium. San Diego’s players are right to get discouraged playing on such a shabby field.
On a high note, remember that the Chargers cheerleaders just won the right to a minimum wage of $11 an hour — higher than the federal rate.
Contrast that to the poverty rate in San Diego County — currently higher than during the Great Recession. That, too, will evaporate with a new stadium.
So, we must build a new stadium. Only those disgruntled taxpayers think it is unaffordable. And they can’t, don’t, and shouldn’t count. We must build the stadium. It is a priority that will fix everything.
Colleen O’Connor is a native San Diegan and a retired college professor.