If You Build It vs If You Don’t Build It

June 2, 2009 at 8:30 am (Uncategorized)

This past weekend we saw yet another new stadium proposal for the San Diego Chargers. These things sure do seem to come and go don’t they?

The primary argument behind building a new stadium in San Diego seems to be that “if you don’t build it, that Chargers will leave.” I don’t know about you but I don’t respond well to threats. And now as a newly registered San Diego voter I finally have a say in the matter!

The City of San Diego in 1998 approved the San Diego Padres the ability to build a downtown ballpark. In 2004 the Padres began play in Petco Park and the skyline of San Diego has seen tremendous changes since. Off the top of my head I can name about 5 new Hotels and at least 15 new housing developments that all came along with the construction of Petco Park. To say that the ballpark didn’t benefit the city of San Diego is only possible if you had never experienced the before and after of the east village.

So even though Petco was pitched in the threatening fashion of “if you don’t build it the Padres will leave” we can look at the positive benefits of the ballpark and say that they could have just sold us on those alone and we would have built it.

Is it possible for the San Diego Chargers to do the same?

Can they stop trying the threatening sales pitch and start trying to entice us?

Clearly the primary obstacle towards enticement is when you ask for public dollars. So rule number one for the Chargers is to have this thing privately financed.

The second thing the public needs to see is that it will benefit them in some way or another. Meaning it needs to be profitable for the city but also accessible to the local public. For instance I was reading about the New Yankee Stadium recently and the disgusting amount of public dollars that went into a place that most of the public cannot afford to attend. The Yankees representative countered with an argument that “90% of the non-suite tickets cost under $100”… How he could say this with any amount of sincerity just goes to show how much disconnect there is with corporate heads and the general public. $100 is about as much money as I can afford to spend on an entire season worth of baseball tickets and this guy is championing that price as if it were something affordable. What a clown. But with regards to a football stadium where a mere ten games a year are played how can you provide a benefit for the general public along with profitability for both the city and the investors?

And then there is perhaps the biggest question of all, where can you do all of this?

The latest proposal, seen here, is to redevelop the current qualcomm site. This is a ridiculous idea for many reasons, primarily because the mission valley area is already swamped with condos, retail and office space. Retail giants are shutting down left and right, condo sales are plummeting and what do they offer us? More retail and more condos. Huh?

Clearly this isn’t going to work, especially not on the current Mission Valley location.

A lot of talk has been made of Chula Vista and for good reason. Chula Vista has a tremendous bay front area that is largely undeveloped. They have breathtaking natural vistas along with convenient freeway access and tremendous untapped potential in the tourism industry.

But I don’t particularly care for Chula Vista nor do I have a voting ability there.

Here is the way I see things…

As far as profitability concerns I think any development needs to be aimed at the tourism and convention industry. The one thing that San Diego isn’t going to all of a sudden lose is its beauty. It should continue to be one of the most attractive sights in the world for hosting conventions as well as for vacation destinations. Initially a football stadium doesn’t seem like it would have drastic impact on the tourism and convention industry but when you take a look at the new Cardinal stadium you might be surprised.

Then there comes the issue of how will this benefit the general public? I think you have to sell it as much more than a cash cow with tax revenues. I think you need to literally design a stadium with a public service in mind. Consequently I propose that you incorporate within the stadium/convention center complex three things… 1. A fire station 2. A homeless shelter and 3. A school.

I’m sure that things are initially laughed at but lets take a look at the possibilities here using location near Petco Park as an example.

Presently right outside of Petco Park is a lot of parking lot space followed by a bus depot and the Father Joes villages. The state of California is facing all kinds of budget cuts which means fire stations, schools and shelters are getting shut down. What if those three things were maintained in large part by private entities? Between the Petco location and where I am referring to with regards to a football stadium is the location they are currently attempting to build a library/school. That’s one. On the north side of the complex they could build a fire station to replace the current one on Island (which was left standing while most of the surrounding buildings were destroyed). And then near where Father Joe’s primary ministry is you could incorporate a shelter and rehabilitation center, which would also have automatic low-skill job opportunities within the convention center and stadium.

It’s a win, win, win scenario (that hopefully helps the Chargers win as well).

The reason I wrote this blog entry is because last week I was contacted by a gentleman who is working on a development plan of his own. He did not tell me any of the details of his plan, just that he would like to get in touch with Chargers fans and Season Ticket holders and start promoting his agenda. I told him I would try to get a conversation going on my blog and that I would let others know that if they are interested in learning more they can sign up to receive emails about his plan by emailing him at rick@trippdevelopment.com

Let me know what you think about my ideas. Will it ever work? Could it ever work? Or is it only a matter of time before the Bolts bolt?

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13 Comments

  1. Rick Tripp said,

    Daniel,

    Thanks for mentioning our effort. I look forward to any questions or comments your followers my have.

    Rick Tripp

  2. Pablo Honey said,

    I like your thoughts on this Daniel. I think a cool feature to attract both tourism as well as get public approval would be to include some kind of museums facility on site. Maybe a new location for the hall of champions with state of the art exhibits and interactive displays. Museums are just plain cool and they attract locals and tourists alike. I think a plan that worked in some new cutting edge museum and learning facilities would draw some rave reviews.

  3. Rick Tripp said,

    Pablo Honey,

    That’s the kind of idea that needs to be explored. Good suggestion. Any more out there?

  4. danielbalc said,

    Pablo,

    A Museum? Really? Balboa park is jut up the road and is the largest urban cultural park in the United States! It has 15 museums.

    I love museums but I don’t know what kind of Museum you would want to feature in a football stadium.

    But the fact is they definitely have to look into mixed use and with the current need for expanded convention center square footage I think that needs to be their primary focus.

    Bet let’s imagine the downtown area doesn’t work. If it’s in Chula Vista would a Stadium/convention center complex be as palatable?

    I think the city of Chula Vista would be foolish to miss out on such an opportunity.

  5. Pablo Honey said,

    What kind of museum would you want in a football stadium? How about a sports museum? The east coast gets the hall of fames, why can’t we have a west coast version? Or better yet think of a sports activity center with all kinds of cool interactive exhibits. Picture the whole NFL experience show the NFL brings to the town that hosts the super bowl each year taking up a permanent residence at the new Chargers Stadium and tell me that wouldn’t be a hit.

  6. danielbalc said,

    Well you can’t just all of a sudden put in a Hall of Fame that’s already been established!

    Baseball is in NY
    Football in Ohio
    Basketball in New Jersey (I think)
    Hockey is probably in Canada
    Bowling is in St Louis
    Tennis?
    Golf? (Florida??)
    Surfing?

    I’m pretty sure all of these have already been established.

    Hey but you know what hasn’t? A California Sports Hall of Fame. Evidently Christian Okoye (remember him? Didn’t he used to be your favorite football player?) founded the CA Sports Hall of Fame but I don’t know that it has an actual location yet. Hmmmmm.

    But again I don’t really see what kind of broad tourist appeal the CA sports hall of fame might have.

    BTW best museum in SD IMHO is the Midway Museum. It’s amazing, but I don’t know that too many people are drawn to SD because of it.

    Really though while I love museums I think that adding one to the Stadium concept would increase it’s tourist appeal by less than 1% Unless you get something really fun like that Rock and Roll hall of fame in Cleveland or the NEWSeum or Spy Museum in DC (both $20 tickets) or culturally significant like the Ghetty in LA (FREE).

    I just don’t see a CSHOF measuring up to that level of interest.

    I will tell you though all this talk has got me pumped up for a museum visit. Tuesdays are free days for locals at Balboa park so I’m going!

  7. agentalsd said,

    The challenge with building the stadium on the Chula Vista Bayfront is having to deal with not only the City of Chula Vista (which is a mess politically, financially) but also the Port of San Diego. Rumor has it that the prior Port Commissioner for Chula Vista was actually making head way with the Chargers but ran into a lack of support from the Mayor. The deal has to make sense to all three parties (Chargers, Port, City) before anything will move forward. John McCann, Chula Vista Councilmember, is fighting hard to keep the Chargers but it is definitely an uphill battle.

    We might need to get used to the sound of ” Pa-sa-de-na, Super Chargers” or “Irvine Chargers”

    See:
    http://www.voiceofsandiego.org/articles/2009/01/29/opinion/slop/179coxfight012909.

  8. danielbalc said,

    The thing with building on the water front is that even though it might look pretty it doesn’t make financial sense. At least not for the port.

    Regarding the Chargers leaving town any time soon I don’t see it as making financial sense for them to do so.

    The amount of money they would have to invest in marketing themselves to a community is simply not worth it. Especially the LA market which is saturated with Raiders and Rams fans (and delusional Trojans fans who somehow believe that their college team could beat NFL teams).

    The financial “crisis” of California is the best possible thing that could happen to the Chargers fans. Fear of the bolts bolting should be completely stymied by the fact that they can’t go anywhere where there is no stadium, no stadium can po0ssibly be built in CA during this climate and the Chargers would have to invest too much money moving.

    The location is, in my opinion, the least difficult problem with building a new Stadium. The problem is public will for any use of public money for a private stadium.

    Make it privately financed and the public will have no problem putting it anywhere.

    BTW a much bigger construction problem facing San Diego is where to put an airport. San Diego is the busiest single runway airport in the world and it’s virtually tapped out on it’s volume right now. Plus it requires thousands of more acres than a football stadium.

    But hope is on the horizon because Obama will be shutting down Miramar by his second term so we will have plenty of room for a football stadium, an airport, 5 new amusement parks and at least 13 new communities that start with “rancho”.

  9. danielbalc said,

    Oh and if we don’t get a football stadium in the Miramar closing we can still hold out hope that when Obama shuts down North Island (probably during his 4th term) we can put a stadium on Corando!

  10. Pablo Honey said,

    Corando? Is that near Orlando?

  11. Rick Tripp said,

    Daniel, I know we can get a stadium built in this “financial climate”. Our proposal is 100% privately funded with abolutely zero allocation of public resources. I’ll be in San Diego on June 25th to discuss the proposal with anyone who cares to engage in the conversation.

  12. danielbalc said,

    Awesome Rick…

    Do you have a location/time that we can promote an informal gathering of Charger fans to?

    Pablo… ha

  13. Rick Tripp said,

    Not yet. I will be downtown most of the day. Can you recomend a location.

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