The Man Who Lost the Chargers?

Jimmy Stewart is known as “The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance” in the western classic by the same name.  Likewise, if the Chargers leave San Diego, Kevin Faulconer will likely be known as “The Man Who Lost the Chargers“.

Mayor Faulconer unintentionally brought this upon himself by talking up Chargers stadium prospects for a year and a half, culminating in an expectation crescendo at his January 2015 State of the City speech.  His announcement there, or lack thereof, underperformed in the extreme.  Why would the Mayor build up expectations in this fashion knowing full well he had nothing concrete to offer?  We don’t know the answer to this, but doing so made him look like all talk no action.  The Chargers saw it this way and surmised they had no choice but to begin analyzing the numerous alternatives on their desk, culminating in the signing of the Carson stadium deal.  Make no mistake, the two events are directly related.  So let’s dispense with attempts to shift the blame elsewhere.

After 14 years of work and $15 million spent trying, the Chargers have proven they are serious about keeping the team in San Diego.  The Mayor has not yet proven the same, but he has a golden opportunity to do so now.  We hope he seizes it – we want the Mayor to succeed on this issue and as the leader of our city.

The Mayor’s new Stadium Task Force is comprised of wonderful, thoughtful local people.  Unfortunately, there is a silent yet powerful Hotelier Cabal at work behind the scenes.  Headquartered in the Mission Bay / Mission Valley / Point Loma areas, they have tentacles throughout the city and are San Diego’s equivalent to Old Man Potter in another Jimmy Stewart classic, “It’s a Wonderful Life“.  Their intent is to keep San Diego provincial and under their control via leverage obtained by extensive political contributions, right and left, as well as large media buys.  In the Chargers case, their influence has repeatedly scuttled the consideration of a multi-purpose downtown stadium / convention center, even though it is likely the one-and-only option that can save the Chargers.

Despite what some think, the Chargers are an important part of our community fabric and cohesiveness.  So too are our Padres, Balboa Park, Museums, Old Globe, Opera, Symphony, Port, beaches, parks, and an endless array of other local concerns.  We should seek to keep all aspects of our community fabric intact and prospering – the new downtown library being a perfect example.  With respect to the Chargers, it is not about giveaways to billionaire owners; it’s about building a win-win for our community.  If the Chargers contribute one-third of a new stadium’s cost, and the NFL another third, might a San Diego City / County contribution be worth considering if it is used by the Chargers, Aztecs, Holiday Bowl, Poinsettia Bowl, Comic-Con, Convention Center, soccer games, concerts, motorcycle races, Super Bowls, 2028 Olympic Game proposals, World Cup and World Expo proposals, and so on?  At some level of use, most will agree that a new stadium is a significant additive value to our community fabric and cohesiveness.  And yet, the hoteliers block such a multi-purpose facility from consideration at every turn.  Why?

Mayor Faulconer has his work cut out to redeem himself and we sincerely hope he succeeds – whether via a stadium downtown or in Mission Valley. “The Man Who Saved the Chargers” certainly has a better ring to it. If the Chargers do leave though, one thing is for sure, the 2016 Mayoral Election will be exciting.

P.S. – Perception is reality for both Jimmy Stewart and Mayor Faulconer. (John Wayne shot Liberty Valance, not Jimmy Stewart. And if the Chargers leave San Diego, Mayor Faulconer will get the blame…even though the Hotelier Cabal is the far larger culprit.)

Authored by George Mullen – March 31, 2015

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