January 27, 2003

By Michael Strickland

Public Enemy Number One

Ah, the Monday After.

It was indeed a "super" game—well, at least one team played superbly. And in America's Finest City, it was a Super Week. The Gaslamp Quarter rocked with 50,000 revelers all weekend long. The weather has been positively summer-like, so I'm sure we'll have another wave of 100,000 people moving here over the next couple of years. Everyone connected to the Super Bowl has been raving about the city—with the exception of NFL Commissioner Paul Tagliabue, San Diego's new Public Enemy Number One.

In his "State of the NFL" speech last Friday, Tagliabue all but vowed that the NFL will not grant San Diego another Super Bowl until the city builds a new football stadium. In fact, while commentators Al Michaels and John Madden repeatedly gushed over the city, suggesting the Super Bowl be held here every year, Tagliabue said, "I'm surprised that we are here this week." As if San Diego were some backwater town, overstepping its capabilities to host such a huge sporting event.

He credited Chargers owner Alex Spanos with convincing the other team owners to hold the Super Bowl here this year. Yes, Alex Spanos, the same guy who wants the city to chip in $200 million to build a new stadium—after the city spent $50 million in 1998 to renovate Qualcomm Stadium for Super Bowl XXXII (and another $30 million since on the "ticket guarantee" clause in the Chargers' contract).

The Chargers organization recently presented their proposal for a new stadium and entertainment complex on the current site of the Q. They hinted that they can activate the "trigger" clause in their contract due to "financial hardship." They have repeatedly claimed that they can't compete in a 35-year-old stadium. But I have yet to hear any specific argument against Qualcomm Stadium that doesn't use comparative reasoning. Sure, it's older than many stadiums, it might have fewer luxury boxes, it may lack some of the state-of-the-art amenities that the brand-new facilities have. But judged on its own merits, does it have any fatal flaws? Is there anything wrong with it? After yesterday's Big Game, I think most people would agree it's more than capable of hosting a world-class sporting event.

Local commentators, analyzing Tagliabue's comments, hypothesized that perhaps he's so lukewarm on San Diego because he really wants the Chargers to move to Los Angeles. After all, the nation's second-largest market has been without a football team since the Rams and Raiders moved out in 1994. The NFL is considering staging a Super Bowl in the Rose Bowl in 2008 or 2009, leading some to suggest Tagliabue is using the Big Game as a carrot to lure a team.

The stadium issue has occupied the public's attention here for over a year, and it's a problem that's not going to be resolved anytime soon. So I wish Tagliabue would have focused on the hard work of San Diego's Super Bowl Host Committee or the city's wonderful climate, instead of injecting further politics into a debate that's already overflowing with rhetoric.

[Update: Read local sports commentator Nick Canepa's editorial in the January 28 Union-Tribune, wherein he calls for an apology from NFL Commissioner Paul Tagliabue.]


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Michael Strickland ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

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I have long called myself a writer, but too often I don't do what a writer must do daily: write. So you, dear reader, are the beneficiary of my resolution to make a positive change in at least one area of my life. Every single day of this new year, I will write something, anything, and post it here. It is my intention to use this daily exercise to jump-start my too-long-dormant creative energies, and perhaps generate some worthwhile material this year. Hopefully you will find at least an occasional amusement or insight in my daily musings.

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1/26: Rondo alla Turca
1/25: Back in Uniform
1/24: Hitting the Wall
1/23: It's a Small Web After All
1/22: War is Hell
Watching the Wheels
1/20: Bring on the Mayhem
1/19: Pigskin Ponderings
1/18: More Stupid Lawsuits
1/17: Finding My Passion
1/16: Gulf War Memories
1/15: Meet the New Boss
1/14: Man's Other Best Friend
1/13: Sea of Fire
1/12: Back to the Books
1/11: America's Finest Climate
1/10: Sunshine in a Bottle
1/9: What Would Jesus Drive?
1/8: Southwestern Sojourn
Wheel of Fortune
Class Warfare
1/5: Very Large Dream
The New Nuclear Age
Going Solo
New Year, Old Cave
1/1: All Things End

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