We are now beginning the second quarter of the first year of a new century, and our leading emerging industry appears to be blowing things out of proportion.
The current subject of our general wrath is Alex Spanos, owner of the San Diego Chargers football team. At a recent meeting of National Football League team owners, Spanos was quoted as saying he wanted a new stadium in order to compete with other NFL teams.
We all know that in this very competitive world, timing is everything. But who says when a salvo should be fired? When is the right time?
It really never is the right time. Like most things that are startling or untimely, who can gauge what the response will be?
In this case the cry was to hang Alex by the neck, or at least run him out of town in his private jet. Now that the community has had time to think about the statement, perhaps it is time to deal with the question of what to do with Qualcomm Stadium.
During the discussions on the remodel of the stadium several years ago, it was suggested by some that the stadium be torn down or perhaps even sold to a private owner. After all, it’s paid for and the expense of maintaining and operating it increases every year.
San Diego mayoral candidate Ron Roberts in an opinion letter on April 4 in the San Diego Union-Tribune suggests the city should take the same steps the county did with its North County trash plant and landfills, and sell or privatize the stadium.
Let’s take that comment and examine it. What if the city where to hire an appraiser to determine the value of the property and stadium, then release a request for proposals to all organizations wishing to step forward with a plan to maximize the site’s use? In many major cities with professional sports teams, new stadiums are being built on the same site as the existing facility. When the new one is ready, then the old one is imploded and a grand opening celebration takes place.
Let’s say that the Spanos family is really interested in a new stadium; they could indeed put a plan together that would include funding from the Chargers and the public to construct the new stadium. John Moores put his cash and personal guarantee on the line and his project is moving ahead.
I don’t think it’s wrong for the Chargers to want a new stadium. It is bad timing, perhaps, with the Padres ballpark project in the East Village being such a high-profile development. But Alex can make hay out of his comment if he proceeds with discussions about the project with the city.
I spoke to former San Diego city manager Jack McGrory while the Q remodeling was taking place, and he flatly stated he would have entertained a reasonable offer from Qualcomm, or any entity for that matter, to buy the stadium. Sounds like the trash-to-energy plant scenario that Roberts alluded to in his letter, doesn’t it?
The new mayor, whether it is Ron Roberts or Dick Murphy, needs to look at all our public infrastructure, past and future, with an eye toward privatization and being creative with funding solutions. Let’s not chastise Alex for his comment; after all, this is America where free speech is still allowed. Rather, let’s seize the moment to say it is time to break away from standard government business tactics and be creative.
The county Board of Supervisors was chastised when they started this same process for its landfills, but look at the budget surpluses waiting to be used for the good of the community. Alex, timing is everything, but sometimes leadership takes unusual steps in order to provide the end result.
To the balance sheet.
Credit: To Dr. Bob Beyster of SAIC, Bill Geppert of Cox Communications, and John Hawkins of Cloud 9 Shuttle for winning the Next Millennium award at the 23rd annual Leavey Awards Dinner on March 31 at the U.S. Grant Hotel. The Leavey Awards were created by the Thomas and Dorothy Leavey Foundation for excellence in private enterprise education. The award to these three business leaders was to honor them for helping build and support the next generation of America’s business leaders. The Leavey Foundation, administered by the Freedoms Foundation, honored educators from around the nation at the dinner for their creative teaching of entrepreneurship and economics to our next generation of business leaders. Thomas Leavey was the founder and CEO of State Farm Insurance Co. Each of the educators honored, 16 programs and 31 coordinating educators, received a $7,500 grant for their efforts. Since the program’s inception, $2.4 million in prizes have gone to 335 private enterprise projects. Our three new millennium winners are true role models for us all and certainly for our students. Thanks go to the Leavey Foundation and the Freedoms Foundation for honoring our three leaders and picking San Diego as the site for their annual banquet.
Credit: To Hewlett-Packard and Eastman Kodak for choosing San Diego as the site for their new digital photography joint venture. The new venture will open a headquarters here in about three months with 50 to l00 employees and grow as the business develops. The venture projects $500 million to $l billion in revenue in the first five years. Thanks to both these Fortune 500 companies for picking us for the site.