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Mark Fabiani, Making the Rounds

For those of you who don't know, Mark Fabiani works for the Chargers and his title is "Special Counsel to the President."  A very fancy sounding title, but his job description can be whittled down to "get the Chargers a new stadium."  He is the guy who works with the community groups, politicians, developers, and other important people to make this new stadium thing happen.  He has held this gig since 2002.  Things were pretty quiet for a while, but in the last week he has done two radio interviews and one online chat.  Why the sudden flury of activity?  I maintain the primary cause was obviousman's story last week about the potential new stadium sites.  Clearly Fabiani was inspired to once again take up the challenge of getting this whole stadium thing figured out.  It could also be due to the fact that Michael Aguirre is no longer the city attorney of San Diego, and the relationship between the politicians and the Chargers has improved.  Plus, Fabiani probably knew the report was coming out this week about the Qualcomm Stadium finances and he want to get his story out ahead of it and get people thinking about a new Charger Stadium.  Either way, we've got a bunch of interviews and I thought I would summarize them for you

Click through if you're interested.  If you're sick of the whole stadium thing, then carry on.



San Diego Stadium Coalition, Online Chat, Friday May 15th

  • Focus is currently on Chula Vista site.  Still waiting for the shutdown date of the power plant by the Bay.  Can't move forward without that.
  • Listening to other developers.  One is talking about redeveloping Qualcomm (Note: probably today's story in the UT)
  • Good line of communication with the Mayor and City Attorney
  • The best argument for a new stadium is the 166 acres of underutilized land where Qualcomm is now. (Note: in fact it sucks money out of the city)
  • The City of Industry (LA) stadium is moving forward, eventually they will need a team to commit before they can get too far along
  • The Spanos want to keep the Chargers in SD, but ultimately it is a business and can't be run on emotion alone.
  • Currently focusing on the Port land in CV, but if CV wanted to, the Chargers could also consider the former Gaylord property (also on the bayfront in CV)
  • The chargers need a new stadium to remain financially competitive.  All NFL teams have nearly the same player costs (because of the cap), but teams that have newer stadiums bring in lots more revenue.  This extra revenue raises the cap, but isn't shared like the TV money is.  Chargers are $50-$75M a year in revenue behind some other NFL teams.
  • Downtown is also interesting because there is less infrastructure needed.  Could reduce the cost of a stadium from $1.2B to $900M
  • A new stadium would bring in more revenue because you can have nicer suites and more attractive and advanced signage.  We can charge more for those things if they are a higher quality.
  • Del Mar (the fairgrounds) is also interesting, but can't imagine the community getting behind it.
  • Learned alot from the Padres and Petco: 1) timing is important (world series, vibrant economy helped)
  • a study by the Federal Reserve Bank in Philadelphia showed that NFL stadiums generate more for their cities in property tax revenues than the cities put into the stadiums.
  • Qualcomm IS the best site! That's why we spent the first four years, and most of our $10 million, working on the site. But the numbers for a private development don't work there anymore, in our view.
  • But if the Chargers vacated the Qualcomm site, the City of San Diego would be the big winner: The city would no longer spend the $19 million it now spends on the stadium, and it could generate hundreds of millions from the sale and development of the site.
  • The best news for Charger fans is this: The team has an owner -- Dean Spanos -- who wants to keep the team here. He's proven that over the years, and he continues to prove that every day he pays me to work on this

Josh and Brian, XTRA Sports 1360, mp3, May 18th, (in response to the audit)

  • Closer to the end than the beggining.  At it for 7 years and spent $10M so far.
  • Major obstacle is the power plant in CV.  The power plant lease expires next year!  But the State requires the plant to be available for power.  130 acres of bay front property
  • Two other confidential developers who own land in SD and want to convert their old projects into a stadium/mixed use development.
  • With the city Aguirre gone, communications are much better with the city
  • If the Chargers leave after the 2009 season, they owe the city $56M.  Next year $53M, year after $23M.  Lots of money.
  • The more people who know the details about the current situation, the better it is.  If the Chargers left Qualcomm and a Stadium/Sports arena complex was built somewhere else in the county, the City would have 300+ acres of prime real estate in mission valley and sports arena area to use to generate revenue.
  • Look at how hard the Chargers have worked to stay in San Diego.  The Spanos could have left a while ago without spending any money.  Keep that in mind when you get worried about the Chargers leaving and the LA stadium
  • Communication is much easier with the City of SD without Aguirre.  In CV Mayor Cox has never been a supporter.  The Chargers have other supporters on the CV city council.
  • To support the stadium initiatives, comment on articles on the UT or voice of SD, write an email to your city council-person.
  • The current lease was negotiated in public and the Chargers gave up a lot. 
  • New faces in the city council can be helpful because they are not wedded to past solutions that are not working.
  • If the Chargers play in Qualcomm under the current lease until 2020 it will cost the taxpayers $400M dollars to keep the stadium running as is.

Scott and BR, XX Sports 1090, mp3, May 20th,

  • The city of SD taxpayers are getting a bad deal with the qualcomm site.  The best reason for a new stadium is to free up the Qualcomm site so the city can sell the land and generate tax revenue from the site.
  • Scott: So you're saying we'd be better off without a stadium?  MF: Albsolutely!  That is why we're focused on other sites.  CV, Downtown, etc.
  • Dean Spanos' actions to try to work something out in SD show he wants to stay.
  • Del Mar Fairgrounds?  We talked about it with the politicians, but it is a long shot to even sell the grounds, much less put a stadium there.
  • What about the article today (redev qualcomm site)?  Tim Sullivan is a proponent of the Q site.  We would love to stay at the Q site.  This idea creates too much density.  In order for the numbers to pencil out you would need create the equivalent of 1.25 Empire state buildings worth of office space.  Doesn't think anyone (politicians, community, etc.) will support that sort of density.  Not going to support the proposal because it has a very small chance of succeeding and may spoil relationships for something more likely down the road.
  • The Roski project needs a team and NFL approval and then they can build that stadium pretty quickly.  ( as opposed to SD where they need to ID a site, get the city approvals, etc.)

Andrew Donohue, Voice of San Diego, audio, May 18th (added 5/21 10PM - thanks to Cervercero)

  • The Audit was released and it revealed that the City is subsidizing the stadium.
  • Best argument for a new stadium has to do with making the 166 acres of city land in Mission Valley available to generate revenue for the city (by moving the Stadium somewhere else)
  • The thing that has changed that might help something get done is the people at city hall (Note: he means Mike Aguirre if you haven't picked up on that yet).  Now they can have conversations without having to worry about a press conference or subpoena from the city attorney.
  • Idea#1: find 25 acres downtown.  Possibly 10th Ave Marine Terminal or buy some land by petco.  20 for Stadium, save 5 for a Sports Arena.  City clears and redevelops the qualcomm site.  City clears and redevelops the Sports Arena site.  250+ acres owned by the city for redevelopment, parkland, and revenue (for the city)!
  • Taxpayers are paying $20M a year to keep the Chargers at Qualcomm.  Compare that to this alternate plan that brings in X million dollars a year.
  • In informal discussions with the city at the staff level.  Long way to go from this "throwing around ideas" phase to where we want to be.
  • 2010 is the earliest to see something on the ballot.
  • The Spanos deserve a lot of credit for the effort they have put in to keeping the Chargers in San Diego.
  • Why not just rebuild where we are?  The economics of building a stadium don't pencil out without some sort of parallel development.  They only get used 10-15 times a year.  Typically taxpayers pay 65% of a stadium cost.  With some sort of parallel development, you can reduce (or eliminate) the extra tax to build this.
  • 7 years ago when this process started we had the ticket guarentee, an exit provision in the lease, and everyone thought the chargers were looking to move to LA..  Training camp was up in Carson.  A ot has changed for the beter.
  • While TV, jerseys, etc revenue is shared, local revenue from your stadium are not shared.  The new big stadiums provide more revenue.  The Chargers are falling behind in revenue.  With the Cowboys, Giants, and Jets getting a new stadium, that alone will force the salary cap up $10M next year while not increasing the shared revenue at all. So if the Chargers are going to make $5M this year, next year they will lose $5M.
  • Fabiani and Donohue gripe about how Al Gore lost in 2002 2000.
  • Donohue thinks Al Gore is now a political Rock Star...
  • Fabiani thinks Al Gore would have captured Bin Laden.
  • Fabiani breaths loudly into his microphone.

My Summary of Fabiani's statements

  • The Chargers want to have a stadium somewhere other than Qualcomm.  Because the numbers don't pencil out for a redevelopment plan there and the site is better utilized for generating revenue for the city.
  • The Chula Vista site is probably the front runner and there are also two mystery developers who may be in the mix.  Downtown was also mentioned, but didn't have anything solid with it (site, etc.)
  • Spanos, Fabiani, and the Chargers have worked hard to stay in San Diego and will continue to do so.  But the Roski LA stadium seems to have fewer hurdles and may be a last resort.