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Does Scott Sherman's Stadium Plan Work?

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On Wednesday afternoon, San Diego City Councilman Scott Sherman laid out an ambitious proposal for redevelopment of the Mission Valley site, along with a new stadium. What's in the plan, and does it work?

Scott Sherman's Proposal for the Mission Valley Site
Scott Sherman's Proposal for the Mission Valley Site

Boy, it sure looks good.

In a press conference on Wednesday afternoon, San Diego City Councilman Scott Sherman unveiled art and financing options for a full redevelopment of the Qualcomm site, which includes a new stadium to replace the 48–year–old Qualcomm Stadium. The Qualcomm Site lies within Sherman's district (District 7).

In his press conference, Sherman made clear his proposal was separate from what the Citizens' Stadium Advisory Group (CSAG) was working on. And while he was submitting his plan to CSAG, he said they could use as much of it as they deemed possible or advisable.

Here's a video by Mighty 1090's Annie Heilbrunn showing some of the press conference and video of the proposed development:

video platformvideo managementvideo solutions

Sherman went on to discuss his plan with Scott Kaplan and Billy Ray Smith of Mighty 1090.

When asked on what it will take to keep the Chargers in San Diego, Sherman responded:

"I think we need to put a good deal on the table that makes sense to (the Chargers/NFL) that can get a stadium built... we've heard over and over from taxpayers  'we want them to stay, but we can't put General Fund dollars into this.' So we put out a list of options... with development, talking commercial, talking mixed-use, restaurants, nightlife, density housing around a rehabilitated river park system with walking and biking trails."

What Can We Glean From the Concept Art?

Annie Heilbrunn on Twitter

  • The stadium will be the 1st thing built on this site. You can tell this because the stadium is situated on the northwest corner of the site, on land completely owned by the City of San Diego. Some of the land on the site is owned by the San Diego Water Department. Building the stadium here allows construction to begin immediately while purchase of the remaining land is completed, which would then be followed by phased redevelopment of the site.
  • I really like the proliferation of solar panels on the buildings. This should be an essential component of any plan in Mission Valley.
  • The stadium appears to be designed for multi-use. There's a pair of intersecting arches over the top of the stadium, which appear to allow for expansion or retraction of a translucent fabric roof. I have my doubts, but could this be enough roofing for a major indoor event (such as a Final Four) in San Diego?
  • Tailgating is almost completely eliminated. The only potential areas for tailgating appear to be on the upper deck of the parking structures along Friars and San Diego Mission Roads. Space, however, appears to be at a premium - which means you'd likely be paying for tailgating sites in advance (like a preferred parking permit).
  • This plan calls for much more dense development than CSAG has hinted at. This was laid bare by this tweet from CSAG Spokesman Tony Manolatos:

How Do The Numbers Work Out?

Here's a summary of the financing options provided by Sherman's Financing Summary. I have also included the detailed development summaries provided for the plan by The London Group Realty Advisors where applicable:

($ in millions)
Revenue Source Low Medium High
Chargers Contribution $250.00 $300.00 $350.00
NFL G4 Loan $200.00 $200.00 $200.00
Personal Seat Licenses $100.00 $130.00 $160.00
Private Investors $25.00 $30.00 $35.00
Totals $575.00 $660.00 $745.00
Naming Rights
100% for stadium $150.00 $185.00 $220.00
70% stadium, 30% Chargers $105.00 $129.50 $154.00
50% stadium, 50% Chargers $75.00 $92.50 $110.00
Development Level Light Medium High
Land Sales $336.98 $452.49 $593.98
Total Possible: $986.98 $1,558.98

Here are my takeaways:

  • I think the most realistic numbers in this summary are the Chargers' $250M contribution, the NFL G4 contribution of $200M, and the PSL total of $100M. The Chargers have pledged $200M for a new stadium in San Diego, and according to JMI Realty, would have put in $300M for the proposed stadium & convention center downtown.
  • The low Naming Rights number of $150M, and the medium number of $185M are both realistic. The split numbers are interesting, but at no point thus far have the Chargers indicated they'd be amenable to splitting that revenue. Whether this is a negotiating tactic or a line in the sand for the Chargers is impossible to know at this point.
  • I personally think the high numbers for the PSLs, Naming Rights, and Chargers contribution are pie in the sky numbers.
  • It's clear the phased redevelopment is what allows sales of the Qualcomm land to have a higher value. Otherwise, the land sales would be significantly less than $337M. I'm also guessing the land would have to be fully entitled for this development before a developer made the purchase. This is the single biggest hurdle for the project at Mission Valley, and the biggest impediment to the city and county recouping their investment.

Wrapping Up

What I like about Scott Sherman's plan is that it's the first time in the last 14 years that a San Diego Politician has floated any kind of plan for the Mission Valley site. That, by itself, is significant. It shows just how far this issue has come in the last few months — this would have been politically untouchable mere months ago. It's also pretty clear Sherman wants to get out in front of a project which could be built in his district, and make sure he could attach his name to it in some fashion.

That said, I think there are significant questions regarding the amount of money the Chargers would be willing to contribute, how revenues such as PSLs and Naming Rights would ultimately contribute to the cost of a new stadium, and how much development the Mission Valley site is needed and/or wanted to make this project work. So, while some parts of it may ultimately be in a final solution, this isn't going to work on its own.

But still, it's an idea, and Sherman's plan is now handed off to CSAG for their review and possible use.