When it comes to the prospect of a new stadium downtown, a big gap has opened up between City Hall and Chargers Park.
The two sides moved to close that Friday.
But a galaxy of financial and legal and financial questions could be stumbling blocks to progress.
On Friday, Mayor Kevin Faulconer sent the Chargers a minutely detailed, 15-page menu of “needed information for additional analysis” of the $1.8 billion stadium and convention center proposal that the team is targeting for downtown’s East Village.
It covers the project’s impacts on the city’s general fund, various cost, cash flow, and stadium revenue estimates; design and usage elements, covenants involving the lease, bond repayment terms and “not to relocate” particulars; cost overrun and construction delay allocations, “event data”, tourism marketing revenues, transportation and parking issues, land acquisition, environmental impacts and cleanup; and relocation of the MTS bus yard that occupies about half of the 12-acre site.
Faulconer’s office released statements regarding meetings that the mayor held Friday with Fred Maas -- the Chargers’ point man on the stadium -- and hotel and tourism interests, saying that all agreed to meet again and keep open dialogues that include the parties’ financial teams.
“Mayor Faulconer,” the statement added, “has an obligation to protect San Diego’s fiscal health and provide facts to the public about proposals that have a direct effect on city finances.”
City Councilman Chris Cate, an early and outspoken opponent of the Chargers’ proposal, says he has no problem with extensive due diligence.
"I think when you're looking at a civic project that's going to be costing close to $2 billion,” he told NBC 7 during an appearance on “Politically Speaking”. “You're going to be wanting those details pored over before you start signing petitions and claiming whether you support it or oppose it."
Mayor Faulconer has been quoted as saying he wants to be "the adult in the room" for parlays involving two ballot measures that would pave the way for so-called “Convadium project – a remark that hasn’t gone over well among some stakeholders in the process.
To say the least, the project would remake East Village, the last frontier of downtown Diego.
Meantime, a city attorney's lawsuit could be lurking over one initiative that's close to getting enough signatures to go to the voters in November.
“If the ‘Citizens Plan’ doesn't get on the ballot, then they're going to attack the Chargers plan,” says stadium activist Dan McLellan . “ I frankly support both plans, and I think voters need to know at this point that the Chargers plan hasn't collected the first signature."
Even if both measures qualify for the ballot, "You've got to have everybody on board,” warns Voice of San Diego editor Scott Lewis. “You cannot have city councilmen, over and over in the press, making it look like a terrible idea."
And even if the Hail Mary odds of a measure being approved by the voters pay off, “"We're still going to have to pay the debt service on Qualcomm Stadium -- that's over $50 million that is not addressed,” Cate points out. “What happens if we see a negative impact on TOT revenues? That pays for city services. That pays for repaving streets, repairing sidewalks."
Behind-the-scenes reports indicate that the Bolts are about a week to ten days away from launching their initiative's signature campaign -- complete with new stadium renderings, Charger Girls and balloons.
The team is said to be offering a whopping $15 per signature to armies of petition specialists in ballot measure campaigns.
If its goal of 100-thousand signatures is reached, the Chargers will have invested $1.5 million, a significant early down payment on the $10 million they’ve said they expect to shell out on political efforts from start to finish.