Mission Valley Could Be Mission Impossible

jay-paris

They came, they saw, they yelled.
“Show me your lightning bolt!”
That was the prevalent remark at the Citizens’ Stadium Advisory Group’s public form and good on ‘ya, speakers.
It was time for Chargers backers to vent and boy did they.
No one should question Chargers fans’ passion.
No one should think San Diego isn’t a good — albeit, different — NFL town.
No one should wonder what a pockmark it would leave if the team exits stage left.
“You can’t let them go,” a woman pleaded to the nine-member CSAG.
Hundreds of folks bleeding powder blue — the heck with modern color scheme — left no doubt about what the team means to them.
But what, in the big picture, did Monday night mean in the quest to replace Qualcomm Stadium.
Not much.
Regardless of the boosters’ drive to put a roadblock on a move to Los Angeles, there remains a huge elephant in the room.
Unfortunately this one doesn’t belong in the San Diego Zoo.
Unfortunately this one comes with an estimated $600 million price tag dangling from its collar.
If the Save Our Bolts group does just that, we wonder where the coin will come from?
The proposed stadium in Carson requires scant public funds.
The proposed stadium in Inglewood isn’t seeking tax dough, either.
Welcome to San Diego, where it could be funding a gap of some $600 million and you ready to pony up?
Many at Monday’s event were. They said repeatedly they don’t mind plucking down extra lettuce if it means their garden grows with their love of the Chargers.
But those at the Q weren’t the Chargers’ target audience in this stadium tug-a-war.
How will the Chargers and the city convince non-Chargers fans that this is a good deal? Whether it’s by a city or county vote?
How will they overcome the stigma from Chargers president Dean Spanos being in cahoots with the Raiders?
How will they get people to misremember that $35 million in tax funds the Chargers got during the ridiculous ticket guarantee era?
How will they get people to forget the Chargers have made the playoffs once in four years?
How will they lure back a fan base which still can’t believe a 14-2 coach was fired for Norv Turner; then Turner and general manager A.J. Smith were retained at least one year too long?
Where there’s a will, there can be a way, but it’s tough to find it in Mission Valley.
Which is why downtown remains so important.
Which is why if CSAG selects Mission Valley, it will be a deal-breaker with the Chargers.
Which means the Chargers moving vans will be pointed toward L.A.
But the gear isn’t loaded, and until it is, they’re the San Diego Chargers and the hope is to keep it that way.
While the fans said over and over how they prefer Mission Valley, the Chargers aren’t in the same boat.
And for good reason.
Proposing a Mission Valley palace, with the bells and whistles which $1.7 billion venues have, and this is the optic: rich guy Spanos got the taxpayers to foot a big chunk.
Correct?
Not exactly.
But I stole a line from ex-Chargers linebacker Takeo Spikes years ago and it fits: “Perception travels the world before reality gets a foot out of bed.”
While the Mission Valley venue would be surrounded by development — folks, tailgating is history — that isn’t good enough.
It’s that the site features an old stadium, nearly 20,000 parking spaces and can be hawked to help pay for a downtown site.
Same goes with the city land at the Valley View Casino Center and good luck to the minor-league Gulls and how that might clip their wings.
With a downtown stadium/convention hall, the selling point is it’s something for the city. That the hundreds of restaurants and watering holes in the vicinity would benefit, and that cash register you hear is ringing up tax revenues.
At the least, it doesn’t appear to be just a playpen for a wealthy family with assets north of $1 billion.
The key is keeping the Chargers from going north. While memories were made in Mission Valley, the future ones need to be formed a little south.
Although there’s heavy lifting to be done and we’re back to that elephant in the room.
Until those beholden to the interests of the hoteliers and port commission come aboard, getting a complex constructed across from Petco Park will be tough.
But will it be as difficult as overcoming the heartache of the Chargers exiting?

+ Contact Jay Paris at jparis@bcaradio.com

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