San Diego Chargers to “Bolt” from Qualcomm Stadium?

The San Diego Chargers have been in the news at Pro Football Talk and The San Diego Union-Tribune this week because of a meeting in San Diego between members of the board of the agency in charge of redeveloping downtown San Diego.  In these meetings, Mitchell Ziets, a stadium financing expert gave a presentation which discussed the general findings of his study on the public financing of stadiums for NFL franchises.  Findings indicated that of 11 select NFL stadium construction projects which have occurred in recent years, on average 54% of these stadiums costs were funded with public money.  Notably, this study did not include the New Meadowlands stadium, which is being built entirely through private investment (though it was found that about $300 – $450 million of public money were used to retire the debt on the old Meadowlands stadium as well as build infrastructure to the new facility).

The findings of Ziets presentation seemingly hint at San Diego having to cough up around $400 million for the new stadium the Chargers are planning to build, which is estimated to be in the $700 to $800 million range.  Sounds like a pretty good deal for the Chargers to me, especially considering they have been looking for a new stadium since 2002.  The Chargers have already said they will be back at Qualcomm for the next year, as leaving for the next season would have cost them around $50 million because of their current contract with the stadium.  The buyout in the following year for the Chargers would drop to $26 million, and this will probably be the time frame the team will push for having a new stadium completed so they can leave for newer confines.

Once the Chargers do leave, Qualcomm (formerly known as Jack Murphy Stadium, or just “The Murph”) will host only San Diego State football and two bowl games (The Poinsettia and Holiday bowls).  A final curious note is that stadium financing has in many situations been partially paid for by redevelopment agencies in California.  Petco Park, also built in San Diego, received similar assistance from a redevelopment agency.  As California seems to be a state of large debt and financial issues, it seems rather worrisome that stadiums in the state are being heavily funded by public money with the hopes of redeveloping certain locales.

The winner in all of this: Mr. Ziets, who has been retained by the development agency, and paid Mr. Ziets’ company $160,000 for his services.  A financing plan is in the works, and is said to be ready within a few months.

Hap Tip to Shawn in North Dakota for the article links.

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