A Plan for Keeping Football in San Diego Without Spending Public Money

I think I can speak for most San Diegans when I say that the developments over the last few months concerning the plans for a new football stadium have been troubling.  It's sometimes hard to put into words, but it all feels wrong. 

The problem is that Mayor Faulconer is out of touch with the real San Diego. The argument about a stadium is also an argument about what kind of city we are, and what kind of city we want to be.  To me, San Diego is a world class city that can compete with anywhere. We are proud of our city, we respect our heritage, and we take care of each other.  

Watching Kevin Faulconer, it doesn't seem he sees the same San Diego. When the Chargers demanded a new stadium, he acted like San Diego was a third-rate city that had to beg the team to stay, and was willing to resort to legally dubious procedures just to try and convince the team to take hundreds of millions of our dollars. 

When the Chargers thumbed their nose at the current stadium, Faulconer offered to just tear it down. It seems he has no respect for our heritage, the house that Marshall Faulk built, the house that Tony Gwynn built, the house that Junior Seau built.  Dan Fouts. Rickey Henderson. Don Coryell.  Trevor Hoffman. Our roots run deep at the Murph. Countless San Diegans experienced their first thrilling glimpse of professional sports at that stadium. And now Faulconer wants to bulldoze all of that just so some billionaire can make more money. 

Finally, as hard as Faulconer is trying to claim his giveaway is a fair deal for taxpayers, he is willing to give the Spanos family the benefit of hundred of millions of your hard earned dollars. This is money that could be spent on hiring more police officers, or building parks, or fixing our crumbling streets. By presenting his plan to the NFL, Faulconer decided to act like a typical Republican and side with the billionaires over the common man. This is not what San Diego stands for. 

Perhaps the most shocking fact is that we are doing all of this for a team that wants nothing to do with us, and that has clearly stated that it sees LA as a better opportunity than San Diego. Despite all of this, Faulconer continues to chase the team, begging for them to talk to him and take our money. I wish I had another word for it, but the best word is also the simplest: it's pathetic.  

It's time for us as a city to say "enough."  If the Chargers don't want to be here, then let them leave and try their luck in LA. If the only way to keep them is to give hundreds of millions of dollars to a billionaire just so he can make more money, I say too bad.  Let's put our Chargers gear on a truck and ship it to LA. It's tempting to tell them to get out of town and never come back, but I have a better idea. Maybe we should let them come back, just once a season, so they can see what they are missing. 

There is an ancient proverb that says, "the enemy of my enemy is my friend."  If the Chargers want to make enemies in San Diego, perhaps we should ask, who is the Chargers' biggest enemy?

Despite the rivalry, the Davis family and the Raiders share a lot in common with San Diego. They have pride. They respect their heritage, and their top concern isn't making money. It's playing football.  

The Raiders have expressed interest in our stadium and recognize that with a little spit and polish, it's a great place for a football game. The Raiders don't need aerodynamic fins and luxury sky boxes and gourmet restaurants. Give them some turf, some goal posts, some space for tailgating and some seats for the fans, and they are ready to play. 

So here is the plan. Let's bring the Raiders to San Diego. Let's fix up Qualcomm Stadium with private money, requiring little to no taxpayer money, and let's play some football in San Diego. If we ignore the need for fancy doo dads and packing the stadium full of ways to make as much money as possible, the cost of renovating Qualcomm is fairly low. If San Diego State is willing to chip in some to make sure the Aztecs have a place to play, the combination of a private investment by the Raiders, a loan from the NFL, and smaller sums from other sources will be enough to fix up Qualcomm Stadium. 

Keeping Qualcomm rather than building some new stadium respects our heritage and saves us a lot of money. Rather than giving our city's money to a billionaire, let's reinvest it in our city to benefit everyone. We can sell some of the land around Qualcomm, while still maintaining space for tailgating, and use the money to build a beautiful River park.  The rest of the money that Faulconer wanted to give away can be reinvested in our city. 

And once a year, let's allow the Chargers to come back. And we can show them what football is really about. It's not about money, and it's not about catering to the one percent. It's about sport, and bringing together our community in a shared public space. If the best way to teach the Chargers that lesson is by bringing in the Raiders, I'm on board. Are you?