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Tagliabue tackles Chargers issues
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There’s no denying it: today’s NFL is stronger than ever before.
The league’s fan base has never been bigger. Revenues are at an all-time high.
Competition has never been more balanced, with each of the last four Super Bowls having been won by a different team, a trend that will continue on Sunday when either Oakland or Tampa Bay takes home the Vince Lombardi Trophy.
Over the last five years, 19 new stadiums have been built around the league, counting two currently under construction.
In short, never has the world known a more powerful, influential and successful professional sports league.
As good as things are league-wide, there is still a major question mark in San Diego, where 36-year-old Qualcomm Stadium will host it’s third – and many believe, last – Super Bowl on Sunday. The third oldest stadium in the league, Qualcomm is simply outdated in terms of today’s NFL, and while the league loves hosting its premier sporting event in San Diego because of its magnificent weather and excellent tourist facilities, the inadequacies at the stadium all but ensure that America’s Finest City is about to be cast out of the Super Bowl rotation.
And to NFL Commissioner Paul Tagliabue, not to mention the citizens of San Diego who receive numerous financial benefits from hosting the world’s most-watched annual event, having San Diego out of the running for future Super Bowls would be a shame.
“It’s hard for me to say because I don’t vote on Super Bowls,” said Tagliabue, when asked if Sunday’s Super Bowl will be the last in San Diego at his annual State of the League press conference on Friday. “(Chargers owner) Alex Spanos has been a very persuasive advocate for the City of San Diego, and in particular Super Bowls in San Diego.
“From my own perspective, I’m surprised we’re here this week. If it weren’t for Alex impressing upon the committee and upon the membership the importance of coming back here from his perspective, I don’t think San Diego would have been at the top of the list of most owners who were considering Super Bowl sites.
“So I don’t think the outcome is promising. The reason is, as you know, so many new stadiums have been built in the last decade. The next three Super Bowls are in cities – Jacksonville, Houston and Detroit – which have new stadiums. The competition for Super Bowls is fiercer than it’s ever been.”
Spanos was so influential in helping bring Super Bowl XXXVII to San Diego, that he was among the first people Tagliabue recognized during the opening of his approximately 50 minute State of the League address.
“On behalf of the league, I want to thank the San Diego community and its leadership for all the great work that’s gone into planning and executing this Super Bowl. Those leaders include our NFL host this week, the Spanos Family led by Alex and Dean, who have been a driving force in bringing two Super Bowls to San Diego,” said the Commissioner. “They also lead the way in giving back to help people in need. Supporting our communities is a priority for everyone in the National Football league.”
Like the Chargers, Tagliabue is hopeful that the team’s recent stadium proposal given to the Task Force on Chargers Issues will spark a healthy public discussion about the future of the team, and the National Football League, in San Diego.
“The Chargers are working very hard to remain here, to develop a solution to the stadium issue here in San Diego,” said Tagliabue. “I think that they have been deliberate and thoughtful in dealing with the public authorities. They deferred the re-opener under their lease. We’re hopeful the city council will accept that next week.
“I think the stadium proposal put forth by the Chargers deserves serious consideration. There is a very heavy component, roughly $200 million of private money, coming from the team and the league in that concept. So I think that it deserves serious consideration.
“Anyone who knows Alex Spanos knows that one of his great qualities is loyalty. And he and (Chargers President) Dean (Spanos) are working hard to try to resolve the issues here.”
Without a new stadium in San Diego, Tagliabue expects the league to concentrate on the Los Angeles area – specifically the Rose Bowl in Pasadena – for any Super Bowls that might be played in Southern California in the near future.
“In terms of Super Bowls in Southern California, which I guess includes San Diego and the Los Angeles area, at our league meeting in October we told the membership that our Super Bowl Committee felt that a high priority should be given to playing a Super Bowl in the Los Angeles area, particularly at the Rose Bowl if it were significantly renovated. I think that is likely to be our focus in the next several years in terms of Super Bowls in Southern California.”