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Saving the Chargers Stadium Campaign for the National Football League
Part 5 of 7: Public Relations Strategies

Part I, June 12, 2002 was "Saving The Chargers Stadium Campaign For San Diego," which detailed how to blend real estate and overall geographic growth into a community dialogue. Part II, June 18, 2002, was on "Internet Strategies. Part III, June 20, 2002, was about how growth success is greatly helped by larger development entities like the new Chargers stadium and, more importantly, an NFL team, as they become part of the "bonding blocks" of the greater San Diego community. Part IV, Public Relations: how to achieve the above.


  1. Critique/Assessment/Commentary of Of "L.A. Quiet; other cities may woo chargers"
  2. Public Relations Strategies and Solutions
  3. Summary of Other Solution Pieces

Overriding Assumptions

  1. Both/and is better than either/or
  2. All parties want to control their fate and destiny, but no party acts in a vacuum.
  3. There is the potential of $200 million yearly revenue from a mixed-use facility for all to share

Critiques, Assessments, and Commentaries

  3. San Diego Union Tribune, June 26, 2002
  4. Regional Edition Front PageA Reality Check

The Good News

The Bad News

The story portrays the problem as a Chargers problem. It is not. The Chargers can go anywhere they want, even though, and this is critical, they do NOT want to move. The City of San Diego cannot move. But first San Diego (private and public sector) has to recognize this as a CITY problem, NOT a Charger problem.

L.A. AEG is only in tactical retreat; they’ll be back. The heat won’t go away. They wouldn’t have put in all of the time, money and energy that they did re the Memorial Coliseum first, and then later to the Staples Center area, if they were not fully committed to getting an NFL team. That has not changed, only the how, and when they have an answer for that, they’ll be back, full fore.

The heat is off ONLY in the sense that the Chargers are not the team wanting to move. If they were the only team the goodies offered might be too great to resist, even for rational people. But with six out there, the offerings will not be as great, as the "winner" will be the team that wants to move more than it wants the money (which it’ll get anyway).

Assume L.A. AEG will swing back to their first location, the Memorial Coliseum, once they figure out how. This again distracts: it is NOT an L.A. question (nor a Houston, Birmingham, etc., problem). Some cities, even without the strength of San Diego, are so hungry for an NFL team that they will foolishly do anything to get one. The problems encountered now have resulted in a rash of teams wanting to move and cities willing to pay them what they want to get them, creating a whole new set of down the road problems.

The problem in San Diego is being tacked independently by too many groups: Citizens Task Force, Chargers’ consultants, cadre of businesspeople: there needs to be one group, and that group needs to be led by the Chargers, for only the Chargers can make all of the pieces happen with a new stadium (Super Bowl, Holiday Bowl, etc), for only the economics of the NFL make new stadiums possible (a great paradox, given the few number of uses they have, but that is the reality, and only reality fill the cash box).

The activities of Enron, Reliant, Andersen, etc., give all CEOs a bad name, lowering their trust and credibility quotients, EVEN WHEN innocent.

The Problem: Thinking Either/Or Rather than Both/And

It’s an economic issue AND an emotional issue. The "economically competitive" issue is a UNIVERSAL: makes no difference which team, which city, without it they CANNOT win. Why would top athletes NOT go with the teams that offer the most? Anyone reading this would do the same. The issue is NOT the stadium per se, but who will build it.Other cities recognize that an NFL team brings lots of goodies (ask the San Diego Super Bowl Host Committee: $250 million for each game).

The two sports experts, although with different views, are correct: (1) "the team is likely to leave if city officials don’t make an attractive offer, and (2) the time has passed for NFL teams to win publicly funded stadiums by threatening to move.

Re #1: In general, this is correct. What is wrong is that the statement assumes the only attractive offer the City can make is raise taxes to build a stadium. This is a false assumption (see proposed solution outline below). It also assumes that a company, in this case the Chargers, would be willing to stay in a losing situation where they have no chance to win. No businessman minds being called crazy (sort of adds an element of excitement) but they don’t like being called stupid, which the assumption that they should stay and lose represents.

Re #2: Absolutely correct. BUT, the time has not passed, as attested to by this article, that other cities won’t offer benefits to attract the team from the city that doesn’t facilitate a stadium (NOTE: the key word here is facilitate. Fund is no longer an option. But it doesn’t need to be.

Another "expert" says the NFL won’t allow the Chargers to move. He is wrong on both counts: the NFL goes for what is good for the NFL, and revenues are what are good for the NFL (and any other business). They’ll go where they’ll get the revenues. This "expert" contributes to the false myth that the NFL office in NYC runs the NFL. The owners run the NFL. And owners rarely vote against each other because the next time it might be them wanting to move. The NFL office may make it tough, but the owners have the final say. This same expert shows he is "old paradigm" and definitely not thinking out of the box as he says the city can’t give a stadium due to the "troubled economy." The economy is fine, and is the issue but NOT financing it. "Troubled economy" is a code word for "voters don’t want to pay more taxes for new stadiums." And why should they, when there are models that cut the red tape and time of dealing with getting new tax laws when there are laws on the books already to solve the issue?

The Univ. of Oregon Warsaw Sorts Marketing Center expert is also "behind the times." He is correct about 5 years ago. BUT, he assumes also that the stadium must be built on new tax dollars (otherwise, what makes it harder?) And given the stadium problems and fiascos in Oregon, one might want to think twice turning to this group, which is into "either/or" instead of "both/and."

Why is anyone still listening to Marc Ganis? His involvement in the fiasco in Minneapolis with the Vikings has led to such bad blood between the city and the team they now see no alternative but to leave (that is the best example; there are others; check what happened to those he "helped"). Ganis doesn’t know what he is talking about. He again puts the issue on the team, a good market, and political will. The issue is NOT the team. The issue is what city wants to facilitate the community being able to leverage an NFL team for the economic well being of the city.

NO city determines whether a city stays. He is flat out wrong. That again makes the culprits the team and the city like two bad guys on Main Street shooting it out at high noon. The only ones who benefits are the consultants giving bad advice leading to the shootouts. Both the shooters (team and city lose) and the consultants get paid. Any consultant using this model will lead to trouble.

And the market is not the issue either, not in a day of TV when teams in smaller markets can still be competitive. The market is not the issue. The issue is how much revenue a stadium can generate. Stadium only revenues will no longer suffice. Mixed-use real estate stadium complexes are the best bet for all.

He is also wrong about political will. In St. Paul, the political will was there for a Twins stadium. But the voters turned it down. And when earlier Minnesota legislators came out in favor of a Twins stadium using public financing, many lost in the next election or almost did, and thus cooled to the idea.

So political will refers to Mayors and Governors, City Council members and legislators. But it’s the voters who decide. "All it takes" is a statement of unbelievable shallowness and proof of being locked in the "old ways."

The only consultants that should be used are those showing models that solve the problem for both sides, recognizing that the issue it coordinating independent actors (team and city) in the teeth of their own autonomy. Neither controls the other. Therefore, all either/or scenarios are disasters. ONLY both/and will win the day.

The "Public Relations" Problem for the Chargers

Here we get a truly accurate statement in the article: "the Chargers have to deal with a public relations problem." Issues that have inflamed that need to be dealt with to calm everyone down:

  1. Talking to LA after the $78 million 1995 Qualcomm Stadium lease deal with the "notorious ticket guarantee."
  2. The $12 million training facility and HQ and then training in L.A.
  3. The 60,000 general admission seat guarantee per game
  4. The escape clause despite the $78 million renovation money
  5. The Chargers appear to have broken faith, when all they did was go by their deal
  6. The Chargers appear to be asking for more, more, more, when all that is going on is they are better negotiators, and are acting on the reality of how badly cities want teams. Being the stronger negotiator, they have taken advantage, breaking the key rule of negotiating, which is to make sure the weaker player is satisfied too if a strong partnership is to be developed, rather than set up a breakup later.
  7. The "no" to the question of whether they are more important than other aspects is again taking the "either/or" approach, which requires a winner and a loser, rather than the "both/and" which serves everyone is win-win all around
  8. Beating the Task Force to the punch regarding the two jobs it has:
    • Demonstrating it is an important asset in BOTH quantitative economic terms AND qualitative quality of life terms, so that the task force doesn’t conclude yes one the second question but no on the first
    • Providing it with workable "outside the box" suggestions it will work with so that the Task Force can come up with a resolution for all, at once, and not have to then fight the Chargers later to save face.
  9. They mayor believing the "we need to decide" must be changed to include all parties, public and private, City and Chargers, not just the city.
  10. Not blame having a crummy stadium on the City AND not saying its up to the city to fix it, BUT RATHER praising and thanking the city for all the wonderful years, and now that its time to get a new one, to work with the City to do so
  11. Do a better job of showing how the Chargers benefit the city by being an NFL team that makes the city eligible for a Super Bowl at least twice a decade.
  12. Making the public have to fight to be a part of the discussion when it should be invited in
  13. Become more exclusive: involve county and regional participation in the new football complex AND revenue streams, REGARDLESS OF WHETHER EITHER THE COUNTY OR REGION CONTRIBUTES DIRECTLY (they’ll contribute indirectly by helping fill the seats with fans).
  14. Invite the group the article identifies as the Super Bowl Host Committee to be involved, to give it a wider circle of influence and acceptance.
  15. Invite the group the article identifies as San Diego International Sports Council to be involved, to give it a wider circle of influence and acceptance.

The city council and Mayor need an outside presence to reduce the anxiety for all sides.

Missing from article: the 1986 stadium law

Bill Bradley, opposed to local funding of stadiums (talk about biting the hand that fed him) was a sponsor of the 1986 law that says 90% of stadium revenues must go to the teams. This is what caused the feeding frenzy of stadiums and claim of owners to the revenue and making the

However, my making this a mixed-use real estate development, it becomes a different entity. There is plenty of revenue to be generated and, thus, revenue to be made by all, whether in the form of taxes or in the form of profits.

The "Public Relations" Problem for the City of San Diego

It all hinges on one, and only question: does the Spanos Family want to stay in San Diego or not? If the answer is no, read no further, as money will lead them out. Period. If the answer is yes, keep reading, for the means and mechanisms are available to get them what they want AND to get the city what it wants WITHOUT having to go the county or state (although they can be involved if they want to).

Public Relations Strategies and Solutions

Peter Jessen can offer pulbic relations consulting regarding following:

  1. A public relations campaign for the Spanos family, working with those now doing the same, such as Mark Fabiani and the City, to turn the Spanos family from one of the most hated to one of the most beloved families in the city and region.
  2. A public relations campaign for the San Diego Chargers, working with those now doing the same, such as Mark Fabiani and the City, to turn the Chargers from one of the most hated teams to one of the most loved teams in the city, region and state.
  3. The strategies and activities needed to bring about the above two, responding to the PR problems listed above and on p. 5.
  4. Full use of Internet and Email strategies [See Part II]
  5. Build support through explanation of "smart growth" strategies [See Part III]
  6. Energize the city fostering Team and City Goodwill and the beginning of a "New Friendship" between the Chargers and the fans and citizens of San Diego.
  7. Compliment the existing public relations teams, public and private, however desired, in the management/staffing/administration of the needed public relations
  8. Include "spin" while simultaneously moving beyond spin to work with print and broadcast journalists to build a Charger Story, heralded past, potential present, glorious future.
  9. Enable the city and the team to use communications as their ultimate positive exercise of their power.
  10. As member of the competition committee along with the owners, Peter Jessen has an unparalleled understanding of The NFL
  11. As the head coach with the best record during the 90s despite the lowest revenues, Peter Jessen has an unparalled understanding of professional football teams
  12. Enable the city and the team to use communications as a problem solving discipline.
  13. Enable all to realize there is no Teflon, even for the formidable.
  14. Provide a 24 hour rapid response service for print and broadcasting services on stories/rumors/innuendoes/lies about either the City or the Team
  15. Provide communications briefings for any in need, City/public and Team/private.
  16. Enabling all to see the big picture and absorb the information as developed on the economic and community values at stake as a whole, rather than the false dichotomy of Chargers and City or even worse, making it a Chargers only problem.
  17. Provide a Competitive Analysis frame of reference for analyzing and guiding the discussion.
  18. Gather the research and intelligence needed by all involved, gathering information and advice from a wide an audience and source network as possible, which includes seeing around corners (staying ahead of the event horizons of trends and events), contributing to the guidance mechanisms of agendas, plans, and other communications strategies
  19. That means that will provide BOTH input (information needed to make quality decisions) AND output (press releases, web site, speeches, letters, statements for the leaders of both the City and the team to use to communicate their view points on the issues.
  20. Utilize any of 197 communications strategies in 23 categories to reduce conflicts, anxiety, and promote a favorable response from all in the San Diego Region.
  21. Develop from any to all of 34 Internet and Email strategies.
  22. Offer conflict resolution borrowing from any or all of 16 different models for use with groups, public and/or private, to resolve the conflicts and solve the problem.
  23. A realistic assessment of both the community and business environmentSummary of Other Solution PieceS That Can Be Provided By PeterJessen-gpa.comStadium complex financing.
  24. A minimum of 10 different ways to finance construction, 8 of which do not require new taxes. Team and Stadium complex revenue
  25. A minimum of 13 operational models for the team and complex for use in developing the best for the City of San Diego and for the Chargers, each with third party endorsements.
  26. A minimum of 40 ways in 26 categories to generate revenues from such a complex.
  27. Increase positively both the top and bottom line of the Chargers.
  28. Increase positively the revenue to the City of San Diego without raising taxes.
  29. Fan and citizen support of the team, city, and stadium.
  30. From all of the above: rally the citizenry around the City, the Stadium, and the Chargers.

Read Part 6 »

Page content written / posted: 06-12-02, 01-20-03

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