Professional football is legalized crack. The NFL peddles it and fans smoke it. Those in San Diego who still think the Chargers should be allowed to rifle through city's purse to find money to build a new stadium have an addiction problem. Get help, Boltman.
No city should subsidize a team owner who just cashed a $226-million annual-revenue-sharing check from league headquarters.
For sure, though, pro football games are an awesome ride. Anyone with a football habit can wake up for the 10 a.m. round of games, gobble chicken wings during the 1 p.m. matchups and squeeze into a sports bar booth for cold beers and the rush of a Sunday night game. Then you sleep it off the next morning so you can party during Monday Night Football.
In San Diego—bummer—there's been an intervention. Yeah, you can love the players and hate the owners, but fans are crashing hard. The thrill is gone, except for the hardcore junkies. It's mind-blowing to scroll down a Twitter feed and read up-to-the-minute insights from training camp sandwiched around acrimonious news links:
@BoltBoi7 1m: New offensive line? D.J. Fluker still at right guard. Where is Johnnie Troutman?
@NewsDude 2m: Chargers slam San Diego's Latest Stadium Proposal.
@RiversRules 3m: Super Bowl talent, just sayin. Cowboys look out!!
Ironically, the financial draft proposal dispensed from Mayor Kevin Faulconer's office on Monday probably could pass in a public vote. Granted, the opinion here is that not one dime of public money ought to be spent on a new stadium. But the city/ county's latest offering is to pay for no more than one third of a $1.1 billion stadium at Mission Valley (roughly $350 million from the public, $750 million from the Chargers and the NFL). That's probably digestible to slightly more than half the public, when you consider the pitch that taxpayers are already on the hook for $280 million from the city's general fund over the next two decades for maintenance of Qualcomm Stadium.
Yes, the floated financial construct might actually pass on an imagined ballot that would happen if the Chargers signed on in September for a special election to be held in January.
Why? Because the citizenry is huddled in three camps: "Hell No's," "Bleed Bolt Powder Blues" and the middle group that likes to watch football but has a collective conscience that rightly insists funding for public services goes before handouts to billionaires. A slight majority of the middlers, according to the response to one local poll question, would go for the city/county coughing up 33 percent of a new stadium cost, with the Chargers on the hook for cost overruns and annual maintenance.
For now, though, the proposal seems dead in the moat surrounding the Carson castle where team owner Dean Spanos is signaling he intends to hunker down.
"As our statement indicated, at this point all conceivable financing plans rest on the foundation of the environmental impact report—and in our view that foundation is made out of legal sponge cake," writes Chargers point man Mark Fabiani. "The process that the city has established will lead to years of court challenges and eventual defeat. Remember, these are the very same politicians who told you that the convention center expansion could be financed through a tax that was voted on not by the people, but by the hoteliers. Many people and groups, including the Chargers, said at the time that this was all illegal—yet the city insisted otherwise and forged ahead. And we all know what happened, four years and ten million tax dollars later. We do not want to become ensnared in the city's similarly half-baked legal schemes this time around."
Bummer, man. San Diego's suppliers say they are set to take the operation north.
Maybe they mean it. Maybe it's a smoke screen.
Meanwhile, it's sad to watch the junkies who can't stop twitching for what could be their last few bumps at the Qualcomm crack den.
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