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San Diego stadium may ultimately hinge on only one hurdle: A November vote

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When last we visited the mechanical aspects of a potentially new Chargers stadium in San Diego, it seemed that the powers-that-be had a pair of major hurdles: Securing public approval (via the ballot box) for taxpayer money and navigating the environmental approval process in a way that allows for any legal challenges to be resolved in a timely fashion. As explained by David Garrick of the San Diego Union-Tribune, that may not be the case.

As explained by Garrick, it all may come down to the vote, and only the vote.

San Diego City Attorney Jan Goldsmith told Garrick that a device known as a “citizen’s initiative” could be used to avoid a more convoluted environmental review process, if the stadium project is engineered to include collateral development at stadium site.

“It would involve re-zoning, it would involve voter approval of not only a stadium but ancillary development, and it would include bypassing the California Environmental Quality Act if it’s done right,” Goldsmith told Garrick.

Per a source with knowledge of the situation, the Chargers definitely intend to pursue the “citizen’s initiative” approach. If a ballot measure is qualified by citizen-based signature gathering, an Environmental Impact Report (which would invite potential legal challenges) is not required. This is the process that was used in 2015 to get clearance for new stadiums in Carson and Inglewood.

The Chargers embarked on the process in late January, with a goal of drafting the initiative by late March, with the gathering of signatures beginning after that. Then, if successful, the measure will be on the November ballot.

It could still be an uphill climb to get the votes necessary to secure the public funding necessary for the stadium, based on recent poll results. But the Chargers and San Diego ultimately may face only that hurdle in order to get the stadium built.

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42 Responses to “San Diego stadium may ultimately hinge on only one hurdle: A November vote”
  1. fubar5150 says: Feb 21, 2016 2:22 PM

    I vote no

  2. R.J. says: Feb 21, 2016 2:24 PM

    I don’t live in the city limits, but if I have a say in the matter I’d vote no. Just like all of my friends and family that live in the city. We have infrastructure in need of repairs, cops that need to be paid on par with other California cities, etc.

    Besides, we already have the motocross races moved to Petco Park so wherever the Chargers play will not be used for anything in the off-season. It would be a huge waste of money for ten events a year.

    Good riddance, Spanos.

  3. mackcarrington says: Feb 21, 2016 2:36 PM

    It seems San Diego doesn’t have any problem living with the “stigma” of being a city of professional franchise failures. They had 2 chances at the NBA and failed at that, and now they refuse to support the Chargers, by constantly whining that the NFL should build their city a stadium. There are no paupers in San Diego. They can very well afford a new stadium. They just don’t want one.

  4. realtruthteller100 says: Feb 21, 2016 2:40 PM

    imho they should just pay for the stadium in full cause if they dont their not REAL fans. if u really care about protecting the sheild u should plunk down the money, simpel as that.

  5. thnlybrt says: Feb 21, 2016 2:45 PM

    Watching all this from the UK, I find it bewildering that a nation with an apparent fear of anything related to socialism, has a long history of using public money to build stadiums (which only a fraction of the public who paid for it will step inside of) for a sports league so insanely profitable that it could build a new one for each of the existing teams and still keep its owners obscenely wealthy.

  6. mongo3401 says: Feb 21, 2016 2:51 PM

    I don’t see the people of San Diego voting yes to the stadium. They may say there will be no new taxes to raise the money which is complete BS. San Diego don’t need a stadium and does not need the ” honor ” of being an NFL city. One of the most beautiful places in this planet year round. That’s with a stadium or without a stadium.

  7. kd75 says: Feb 21, 2016 2:57 PM

    Is using a loophole to get around an environmental quality law all that good of an idea?

  8. mrlaloosh says: Feb 21, 2016 3:19 PM

    It took them years to figure this out?
    The vote will be a landslide for “NO”…

  9. intrafinesse says: Feb 21, 2016 3:33 PM

    I like Football.

    I want to see the taxpayers of San Diego, rather than PSL buyers, subsidize a billionaire, building a stadium that will be used for 3.5 hours * 8 home game s= 28 hours per year. I don’t count pre-season games as worth anything. Now it’s true that if the Charges get a home game in the play offs, it could be used fro more than 28 hours per year.

    Just kidding. I’d vote no if I lived in San Diego.
    Raise prices, charge more for PSLs, I don’t care. Make the people attending the game pay, as opposed to a tax payer funded subsidy.

    I’d rather a tax payer subsidy be used to fund good micro breweries. At least I’d go to those.

  10. j0esixpack says: Feb 21, 2016 3:51 PM

    Here’s where having a Commissioner with no integrity (at least in the eyes of two U.S. District Court Judges who effectively called Goodell a liar) comes back to haunt the owners

    How can any politician or voter justify giving $.01 of public funds to a corrupt Commissioner and NFL?

    Of course, Goodell is just a weak puppet who’s strings are being pulled by certain owners – so it’s truly the Owners themselves who can’t be trusted

    Let the organization build the stadium if it makes financial sense – but expect every penny of tax dollars will be padding Goodell and the owners already fat wallets as most public financing deals do

    If Bob Kraft can self finance a stadium, anyone can

  11. Modern Day Einstein says: Feb 21, 2016 3:55 PM

    There is something bigger that worries me about the people that say they would vote No. Its a shift in mentality, where the greatness of a people is no longer measured in great architectural great works.

    Colossus of Rhodes for example, the Eiful Tower, the Arc de Triumph, the Roman Colleseum. This is welfare for billionaires by these peoples logic.

    You people think you can just have a modern NFL team in a crappy 60 year old stadium with modern technology and revenue sharing? Wow.

    It takes money to make money, you clearly do not understand how economic development works, I would guess you live paycheck to paycheck and spend money on name brand cloths. Those are the types of people that would decry progress because they don’t understand how people become rich.

  12. bigharold says: Feb 21, 2016 4:06 PM

    Rather than cities, towns or counties handing out corporate welfare to highly profitable business interest, .. making obscenely wealthy owner even more wealthy, .. the respective leagues should pay for their own sports palaces. They already share common expenses as well as common revenue streams. Let the NFL/MLB foot the bill and build, .. soup to nuts, .. then we’ll see if the loyalty that the fans show to the teams is reciprocal. When teams do things like PSL, charging thousands, .. sometime tens of thousands of dollars, .. for merely the right to buy season tickets, for thousands if not tens of thousands of dollars, they’ve got a lot of cojones to come to local governments and ask for financial help. And, if citizens of those municipalities are will willing to pony up the financial burden then they are fools.

    Professional sports teams need stop resorting extortion to wrangle stadiums from municipalities. There has never been one single study that proves what is given in money, right of way or tax relief is returned in increased economic activity let alone tax revenues. If fact any real assessment proves the opposite.

  13. harrisonhits2 says: Feb 21, 2016 4:12 PM

    Not only do they have all the billions from the league, but now billions more in profits from their shawdow ownership of the daily fantasy gambling sites.

    No city or state should give these walking bags of vast greed one stinking penny. Make them pay for their own stadiums. nWhat a collection of scum the owners are

  14. tomtravis76 says: Feb 21, 2016 4:14 PM

    San Diego can’t look at what other owners are doing with their cities and stadiums. Does the city of San Diego and its residents want to enter into a long term business relationship with the NFL/Spanos family? It has to benefit everyone and it should in as best of a fair deal possible.

    Raising taxes sucks for a community, but sports does help unite some communities. There are benefits beyond money. Would it be great if the NFL said we want to be in San Diego and will build a stadium,yes it would,but they are greedy billionaires who will take their product to a city that will give them whatever they want.

  15. bigredgoog says: Feb 21, 2016 4:19 PM

    An NFL stadium brings value to a community. I’ve not attended a game at Cowboy’s stadium but have paid $20 to tour it and also ran a 5K that ended on the 50 yard line.

    These stadiums are not just 8 game a year facilities.

    The question of course is how much is it worth to a community. To get Spanos and the League to build a brand new Billion dollar beautiful facility would be well worth a 5 million subsidy but might be too rich at 500 million.

    Until an actual proposal is made it is ludicrous to say you are for or against it.

  16. riverhorsey says: Feb 21, 2016 4:32 PM

    The taxpayers should not be funding a new stadium. They already pay the team salaries with high priced tickets they buy.

    If the Chargers want to show the fans they’re tax returns or their profits then maybe they can have a public vote.

    If not let the Chargers and the NFL pay for the stadium.

    Godell made 44 million last year and they want the people of San Diego to pay ?? Pfffff…

  17. packerfaninsandiego says: Feb 21, 2016 4:43 PM

    I live here in San Diego, if it’s up the voters, it ain’t gonna be built.

  18. abninf says: Feb 21, 2016 4:52 PM

    bigharold says:

    Rather than cities, towns or counties handing out corporate welfare to highly profitable business interest, .. making obscenely wealthy owner even more wealthy,

    The wealth of Spanos is the value of the team. He doesn’t have a billion and a half dollars sitting in the bank to pay for a new one. So your leftist class warfare doesn’t apply here. And the NFL told him he will not host another Super Bowl unless he has a new stadium.

    I personally would update the old stadium and say screw the SB.

  19. fedegene says: Feb 21, 2016 4:57 PM

    So, help me with this:

    1) the Spanos saved 500-550 million in relocation fees
    2) the league put 300 to 400 million towards building a new stadium
    3) many roads in my neighborhood just suck plain and simple
    4) there are urgent projects like the expansion of the convention center which would guarantee that Comic Con doesn’t leave San Diego
    5) all of California is still struggling badly with the well-known and unresolved water issues

    and people who live in San Diego (both San Diegans and transplants like me) should do a favor to a billionaire who showed zero loyalty to the city and the fans by voting to raise taxes and let him have his stadium?
    Kudos to our friend who writes from the UK. Paying for a stadium would be ludicrous. I’m not a Chargers fan, but I like the Chargers in the AFC as our local team. For sure, I despise the Spanos. If the Spanos put the team on sale, I say maybe, just maybe, we can think of contributing a little to a new stadium.

  20. mdintino1420 says: Feb 21, 2016 4:58 PM

    What the hell is a matter with you people? VOTE YES to preserve are institutions, culture and city history. VOTE YES for economic development. BOTE YES SO WE CAN HAVE A TEAM TO CALL OUR OWN GOR MANY YEARS TO COME!!

    VOTE YES to see the hot sexy Charger cheerleaders in their sexy outfits. Those gals are smoking hot babes!!!!

    You can bet your bottom dollar I’m pushing the button for a YES VOTE. Those who vote no have a narrow-minded, cheap, loser mentality!!

  21. mdintino1420 says: Feb 21, 2016 5:01 PM

    Hey guys, here is what a no vote will get you:

    San Diego Chargers 1961-2016

    Had to relocate because the voters turned down a measure to fund a new stadium.


  22. jimbo75025 says: Feb 21, 2016 5:17 PM

    I would hope or at least think that Spanos has already burned his bridges with the SD taxpayer.

    Update the current stadium if all agree but this fad of needing anew stadium every twenty years is hogwash. League days it is for the fan experience-yeah right. True fans would sit on metal bleachers to watch a game.

    In a decade or so when the NFL is replaced by something else as the trendy sport, a great number of cities are going to be left with a big hangover.

  23. THX 138 says: Feb 21, 2016 5:27 PM

    Voters may not vote for a stadium that will raise their taxes but they will vote yes for the”Bullit Train” that will never be built and costs 500 Billion. Voters are idiots.

  24. jjfootball says: Feb 21, 2016 5:33 PM


  25. JSpicoli says: Feb 21, 2016 5:55 PM

    So you are saying that Trump is going to include a built-in stadium in the wall?

  26. harrypetergrant says: Feb 21, 2016 6:00 PM

    Mark Cuban is right when he predicted that the current owners are going to Cook the Golden Goose and they are to arrogant to even realize it, it won’t be long before the fans will say enough is enough and the cash flow will slow to a trickle and I for one will enjoy the collapse !

  27. mongo3401 says: Feb 21, 2016 8:29 PM

    St Louisnneeds a team and has a plan for a stadium. Let Spanos move there because no way is LA going to buy into the Chargers. Raiders maybe but never the Chargers.

  28. mongo3401 says: Feb 21, 2016 8:31 PM

    Once the Rams get a strong foothold in LA this year the Chargers will be also rans Spanos screwed the pooch with his idea of building a stadium on top of a toxic waste dump in Carson.

  29. mdintino1420 says: Feb 21, 2016 8:42 PM

    I can’t see St. Louis getting another NFL team. They had the
    NFL leave them twice. St. Louis has had enough of being left high and dry. There are opportunities is Las Vegas and San Antonio. Hopefully they get expansion teams and not the Chargers.

  30. Lou Stools says: Feb 21, 2016 9:09 PM

    As a registered voter of SD, bite me Dean. Pack ’em up and move ’em out. No Billionaire welfare while street, school and other municipal services get cut. Too many other things to do in “America’s most livable city”.

  31. Lou Stools says: Feb 21, 2016 9:12 PM

    You sir, are a SFT (Spanos-Fabiano Tool). As a SD voter I DO want the best for my city . . . they best streets and schools, not the best Billionaire Welfare. Whatever happens remember my vote will always cancel yours. Cheers!

  32. patsfiend says: Feb 21, 2016 9:40 PM

    Don’t give that bum Spanos any public money.

  33. xpensivewinos says: Feb 21, 2016 9:47 PM

    Subsidizing billionaires is insane. Pretty sure billionaires stay billionaires by having schmucks pay for their tax right offs.

    The NFL and its owners are not mom and pop businesses. This is a cost of doing business. If the NFL and one of its 32 manufacturers needs/wants to build a new plant, let them partner on it however they see fit and pay for it. End of story.

    If the city/county/town/planet where its being built wants to give the NFL and the owner a sweetheart deal on the land where it’s going to be built as a show of community good faith or to show that they somehow have skin in the game as well, I don’t have a problem with that, but not one penny of taxpayer dollars should go towards building it.

  34. unknown says: Feb 21, 2016 10:22 PM

    As a resident of Greater Cleveland, I watched a city that could not graduate half of its high school students spend half a billion dollars for a stadium designed by C students at the Walmart College of Architecture.
    Enough is enough. We do not need one more cent of corporate welfare spent for tax money on the NFL. Look at the Millennials. They play Fantasy Football, and have no allegiance to their “home teams.”
    It’s time to say we’re done with this, and put our money into bridges, roads, water pipes and other infrastructure without our tax money going to millionaire players employed by billionaires.
    I was a Browns fan as a child, but I would like nothing more than to see the bulldozers and the wrecking balls hit Electric Bill Stadium to put that lakefront land to better use.

  35. kingpel says: Feb 21, 2016 11:35 PM

    I’m not seeing how these billion dollar stadiums are that much better than the old ones. All I need is a seat to watch the game and the less it costs the better. If anything I’d think they would start building smaller stadiums to increase the demand for tickets. Why would anyone throw down thousands for a PSL when you can buy tickets on stub hub for under 100 bucks?

    Build a nice and cozy 700 million dollar stadium and be done with it, Spanos. Your weather and team are the draw. Less is more.

  36. balaspackfan says: Feb 21, 2016 11:48 PM

    Just get it to a vote and see how it goes. It will pass despite the whining.

  37. TomsulasMustache says: Feb 21, 2016 11:51 PM

    San Diego can’t even pay to fix it’s roads

  38. DesertEagle76 says: Feb 22, 2016 2:02 AM

    I suppose it is either Spanos gets taxpayer money, or starts paying $1/year in rent to his new stepdad Stan Kroenke in LA.


    I don’t see that as a threat.

    With the money saved from *not* relocating to LA, plus a potential $300M from the NFL, a perfectly decent stadium could be built (See: CenturyLink Field, NRG Stadium, and U of Phoenix Stadium).

  39. ontboltfan says: Feb 22, 2016 7:26 PM

    Not sure why public funding for stadiums is such an outcry. The past 20 stadiums built or renovated since 1997 were 56% publicly funded.

    Notable in the samll markets too where Lucas Oil (IND ) 86% , Soldier field 66% , Jerry World 36%, Phoenix Stadium 86%, Lincoln Field 36% and Lambeau Field 66%.

    The city and its fans has to decide if it wants an NFL team or not. Public funding is the norm not the exception so stop using that as an excuse.

    For all the revenue analysts and socialists, Spanos only owns the Chargers w a worth of ~ $1.5B. It would be worth a multiple of that in LA so him even considering keeping it in SD is really a public service.

  40. mdintino1420 says: Feb 22, 2016 8:42 PM

    The NFL is kicking in 300 million, 200 million from the G4 loan program and an additional 100 million for staying in San Diego. Spanos is a wealthy man, but he is not Stan Kroenke or Bill Gates. He will contribute what he can, but be cannot do it alone.

    With the league, the team, and the citizens pitching in, we can get this thing done after 10+ years of struggling with it. I would be fine with using PSL sales or sale of the naming rights to a corporation to reduce the public’s contribution.

    More more info, go to

  41. justanotherfan101 says: Feb 22, 2016 10:06 PM

    So there’s an old saying, “you get what you pay for.”

  42. icanspeel says: Feb 23, 2016 2:13 PM

    The biggest thing for me is.

    What exactly is on the ballot to be voted on?

    Aside from that, it might sound trivial, but how hyped the Chargers are by who they sign and draft and if they get off to a hot start might determine if they get enough votes.

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