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Sunday, Jul 14, 2024

Executive Profile – CHARLES BLACK

Executive Profile – CHARLES BLACK


Charles Black, executive vice president at JMI Realty, considers himself a relative newcomer to Downtown San Diego’s ballpark district, having worked on redevelopment of the East Village for only five years.

Some of his colleagues have been involved for seven years in the planning and construction of Petco Park, where the San Diego Padres will play their first home game of the 2004 Major League Baseball season on April 8.

JMI Realty is the ballpark district master developer and the real estate company owned by Padres owner John Moores. Black oversees development of Petco Park and JMI’s non-hotel real estate assets surrounding it.

In 1999, Black was a real estate partner specializing in land use, environmental law, and finance at the law firm of Gray Cary, when he was retained as general counsel for the Padres for ballpark and related real estate negotiations.

When Padres CEO Bob Vizas shed his title as president of the team, Black served as president and chief operating officer for four months before Dick Freeman signed on to head up the team in October of 2002. Since then, Black’s been part of the staff at JMI.

John Kratzer, president & CEO of JMI Realty, said everyone who’s been working on Petco Park for the last several years is trying to slow down and enjoy the ballpark.

Kratzer noted that he, Black, and others will be busy for some time finishing work related to the construction of Petco Park and making sure the development commitments are fulfilled that were outlined by the memorandum of understanding between the Padres and the city.

“I think this has been an incredibly legal and document intense project. The biggest way (Black) has been involved is in drafting those documents,” Kratzer said.

Black said his colleagues at JMI and the Padres probably remember him best as the person who loaded them down with three-ring binders full of research and documents.

“He comes across as all business, but he has a dry sense of humor that’s very good,” Kratzer said.


What were the biggest challenges for the ballpark? I was always at ground zero dealing with this the litigation and the financing. There really wasn’t any end to it. On Feb. 15, 2002, the city sold its bonds. The next big step was to complete the Padres’ financing, which happened in May.

There was a requirement for the city to get bond insurance. The Padres’ ability to finish was part of that. We got a guarantee from Major League Baseball, which is very hard to do.

We started with a really big document the joint use agreement. It was hard to amend so it could be finance-able. I had a daily regimen of three to four conference calls a day for six or eight months.

Now the work isn’t so much the physical work of finishing it, but closing out contracts. Back in mid-February, I turned it over to the Padres so it’s no longer my project. Afterwards I had to go over to do a punch list. I couldn’t get into the building because the new security didn’t know me.

What’s your favorite part of the ballpark? I like the concourses the openness and the breeziness of the concourses, the vistas out to the San Diego Bay. There are so many great places in the ballpark. The interior is beautiful.

What do you think the fans will like the most? I think the fans are going to like the experience of watching baseball in an urban modern ballpark. There is not a bad seat in the ballpark. I think the fans are going to love coming Downtown for a game.

If you had it to do all over again, what would you suggest should be done differently? This is the first time a sports team owner has committed to doing redevelopment in the immediate area of a ballpark. They created a development obligation without development rights. It would have been better to have had more developers participating (rather than one master developer).

The Padres had a $311 million development obligation. It appears now that it will be well over $600 million.


Essential business philosophy: Treat others as I wish to be treated. It’s pretty simple but it’s never let me down.

Best way to keep a competitive edge: I learned as a young lawyer that raw talent is underrated and hard work and preparation is most important. You need to understand your adversary’s objectives as well as your own.

Yardstick of success: The project is a success when it actually gets built. I’ve been involved in the front end of a lot of projects only to see them die.

Goal yet to be achieved: Build a sports arena and a football stadium. The Padres have a right of first refusal if there’s going to be a sports arena on Tailgate Park. It doesn’t look likely. The Chargers need a new facility to stay competitive here. Qualcomm is out of date.


Best business decision: Joining the ballpark district development team.

Toughest business decision: I was in the practice of law for 24 years. I enjoyed it but I wanted to get into something else.

Biggest missed opportunity: Maybe not going to medical school after I left the Air Force.

Word that best describes you: Untiring. I would even say tenacious.


What you like best about job: The autonomy I have in the decision making process.

What you like least about job: The autonomy I have in the decision making process. When I make a mistake, there’s no one to blame but me.

Pet peeves: Small barking dogs and people who disagree with me.

Most important lesson learned: When I leave a room I try not to create any enemies for my client, my project, or myself.

First choice for a new career: I’d like to be a Major League Baseball player , a good one and a highly compensated one.

Hours per week you work: 70 hours.


Favorite quote: There was a saloon I used to go to in college in Colorado Springs called Melba’s Shamrock Lounge. It had a sign that said, “Every day a holiday and chicken every Sunday.”

Favorite book: “Catch 22” by Joseph Heller.

Favorite movie: “Goodfellas.”

Recent vacation spot: Anywhere in the Caribbean that has good weather and scuba diving.

Favorite way to spend time: On one of those warm vacation spots in a hammock with a good book.

Favorite place in San Diego: My favorite place now is the ballpark.

Automobile: Volkswagen Touareg.

Hobbies: I ride motorcycles (and own a BMW motorcycle). I ride mountain bikes, and go trail running. Right now mountain biking is my favorite. My wife and I took a (motorcycle) trip through Northern Spain for two weeks. We have one planned this summer in Scotland for 10 days.


“I’d describe him as very conscientious. That’s a special characteristic. He’s the kind of person who will do what it takes to get it done. He’s bright, very solid, stable, and consistent.”

, John Kratzer, president and CEO

of JMI Realty

RESUME: Charles Black

Title: Executive vice president.

Company: JMI Realty.

Education: Bachelor of science in International Affairs from the U.S. Air Force Academy, followed by five years in the Air Force, then a juris doctorate with an emphasis in real estate development and finance from the University of California, Davis.

Age: 55.

Residence: Jamul.

Family: Wife, Donna; daughter, Michelle Orkish, 35; son, Charles, 24.


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