The Chargers' old nemesis Mike Aguirre is sounding off about the team's bid for public assistance in building a new stadium in downtown's East Village.
The former city attorney said he just wants "an honest business discussion" of the issue. In his first news conference in more than a year, Aguirre argued that stadium financing prospects in this economy are risky and far-fetched.
"On whose shoulders will the economic risk fall?" he asked rhetorically as reporters and news photographers gathered around a desk in his private law firm's downtown office.
"It is impossible to build a new stadium for the Chargers without increasing taxes," Aguirre said. "You cannot count on increased revenues through redevelopment."
Aguirre challenged the National Football League to step forward with construction capital out of its multibillion dollar television contracts. He also said the Chargers should follow the lead of the Dallas Cowboys' newly opened stadium venture, which was bankrolled by approaching the voters for tax increases to fund necessary bond issues.
If ballot approval is granted, Aguirre said the team should pay for cost overruns and pledge in writing not to leave San Diego for the duration of the bonds.
"Let's not relegate this discussion to some kind of closed-minded sports-talk radio or personality attacks," Aguirre concluded. "I see an orchestration, a manipulation of the public. But I don't see an informed discussion."
A spokesman for Mayor Jerry Sanders said the "redevelopment route" still seems to be the way to go.
Redevelopment officials point to the success of the Padres' Petco Park, which helped revitalize the East Village They say that investing funds in a football stadium two blocks east of the ballpark offers great long-term potential for underwriting the project and further urban renewal of a blighted area.
"I think it is fair to say that we want to keep the Chargers in San Diego," said Fred Maas, chairman and CEO of the Centre City Development Corporation. "If that [redevelopment financing] were to generate another $500 million or $600 million in new property taxes, is that a worthwhile endeavor?"
Chargers Special Counsel Mark Fabiani declined to engage Aguirre directly over the issues.
He did issue a written statement, however: "Mike Aguirre is San Diego’s political bad penny -- turning up again even after 60 percent of voters tossed him out of office. There is simply no reason to dignify Mr. Aguirre’s rants and raves, or say anything to assist his desperate grabs for public attention."