Blog Post

Cory Briggs Interview with Mighty 1090 about Charges Politicians Hoteliers and Convention Center

On September 1, I was interviewed on the Mighty 1090.

If you think the Chargers are the ones that have been disingenuous, listen in.

The narratives from city leaders and the hoteliers on both fronts are proving to be pure politics, and false.

Watch the video and/or read the transcript.

Watch (and Listen) To the Interview

Here are the links to all the documents referenced:

Download the AECOM Report from 2009
Download the AECOM Report from 2010
Read the Letter from CSL regarding the $157 million mistake

Read the Full Transcript:

SCOTT: Cory Briggs is about to join us here, and let me just set this up for you. This ongoing debate, Billy Ray, about the stadium, has been happening now for many many years. I’d say since 2003, so I’d call it 12 years. But it has been at its most intensified point this year.

And from the very beginning, Mark Fabiani has said that the Mayor is playing a game of political cover. Most people who are not in the political world, including myself I must say, have no idea what that meant.

Mark tried to explain it over and over again. The unfortunate part about it is that Mark, with his dialogue, became public enemy #1 of all Charger fans. His constant insults of the City and the Mayor and so on really didn’t allow people, again, myself included, to really take a good hard look at what was going on.

And ultimately, as I have been pushing for several weeks now, we really needed to go and re-examine downtown. For the future of downtown, not just for the future of the Chargers and a stadium. There is a lot about that, you know.

What JMI is going to build? Is it going to be a hotel? Is it going to be a condo complex right near by the ballpark? Will a convention center get expanded? Would it come across the street. Would that be a good partnership with the stadium…etc..?

And then all of a sudden, the convention center people were doing their own research, they say. Umm, from the convention center sports and leisure international, whoever they are, and they have concluded once and for all that their clientele wants a contiguous expansion of a convention center … they don’t want it across the street.

The Mayor has come out and said “I support that,” and I plan on asking the voters to increase the taxes so that we can increase the convention center.

This could be devastating for the Charger staying here in San Diego.

Here to talk about that on the Corky’s hotline is Attorney Cory Briggs, who shut down the last expansion of the convention center. And what does he have to say about what’s going on now?

Hi Cory.

CORY: Hey Scott, how are you? Hi BR, how are ya?

BR: What’s up Cory?

SCOTT: Cory, I want to ask you, what do you make of, first of all, the study that the convention center people have done, that their clientele prefers contiguous versus a campus style convention center.

CORY: Where do you want me to start?

SCOTT: Well first I’d ask you, do you know who the Convention Sports and Leisure International people are?

CORY: No idea.

SCOTT: So is that like a made-up company. I mean I really don’t know who they are or what their credentials are.

CORY: I assume they are at least competent enough to get the job, but I don’t know anything else about them.

SCOTT: So you shut down the convention center expansion last time. Can you explain to everybody why that was?

CORY: Sure, because the hoteliers voted themselves to impose a tax on tourists instead of having the voters of the City impose the tax and the court of appeal said that is unconstitutional so they invalidated it.

SCOTT: And moreover, besides that which seems reasonable to most of us. The idea of waterfront expansion. Take us through that plot of land that is sort of in between the convention center and the Hilton and why that doesn’t work for the people that you generally represent.

CORY: Sure, what’s known as the south Embarcadero, which is pretty much everything where the convention center is to the South has been developed. And the waterfront by law is supposed to be protected by the public to use for water-dependent purposes, whether that is commerce recreation, fishing, boating, all sorts of things. But it’s not supposed to be used in a way that precludes those water dependent uses. So, when you put a convention center on the waterfront, you don’t need a convention center on the waterfront. Your proof is convention centers all over the world that are not on the waterfront. That makes it illegal. It was done before, it should not have been done. What was left last time was a park between the convention center and the Hilton hotel that is down there. And the agreement was no more expansions on the waterfront instead we will do the next phase at what is known today at tailgate park. That is why they built the bridge there at harbor drive.
Now the City has gone back on their word. The Port has gone back on their word. And they want to expand on the waterfront. That open space is supposed to remain a park. It is supposed to remain available for the public to use as it wants to use for water-dependent open space activities. It is not supposed to be a box on the water.

SCOTT: So, what do you make Cory Briggs, of the research that has been done that says people who bring conventions prefer it to be in one building, #1, and #2, the Mayor’s support for that notion.

CORY: So, I’ve been looking at this report and let me just tell ya, that about an hour ago I was emailed a copy of a letter from the author of the report that is confessing to have used the wrong cost numbers in his economic analysis. The letter I’m looking at sent to the convention center today says that we used the wrong dollar amount. $410 million instead of $549 million. By my calculations that is a shortage of 1/3. Which means their calculation about the return on their investment, how quickly they would get their money back if they did contiguous are egregiously wrong and egregiously so.

BR: What was their excuse?

CORY: There is no excuse in here. It just say, ‘unfortunately we included the construction cost for an alternative contiguous expansion scenario $410 million versus $549 million and are making the necessary corrections to include these costs for the correct scenario. So, right off the bat, the numbers are wrong. Another problem with the number is if you look at the table, its Table ES1 in the report, there is a footnote in the report that says their numbers come from CB urban development. CB Urban Development is a company that is run by a lawyer named Charles Black. Charles Black is not a construction estimator. And if you look at the actual memo that is referenced in the footnote that is the source of the cost, and I have that memo … the City gave it to me a couple days ago … he has a bunch of disclaimers in the beginning. For example, he says the sketches of the area that we looked at were hand-written. Which mean the back of a napkin, almost certainly. On top of that, he says we don’t even know if the cost-estimates are accurate until you actually pick an alternative, you get real cost estimators to give you the numbers, and you get a contract with a contractor who is willing to build it at that price. So, if you read the footnotes and you see the source document, you immediately say, ‘why would we have any confidence in these numbers when the lawyer pretending to be a cost estimator says here are my disclaimers,’
And then, on top of that, you know a couple years ago when they were saying that they could only do contiguous because their clients would have nothing to do with across the street. ‘Contiguous was the only viable alternative.’ And they kept citing this AECOM report. And we said read the report it doesn’t say it. And the politicians and the media all said, ‘nope, it must be contiguous or we have nothing.’

Well now we have a report that says you can go across the street and do non-contiguous. It would make your investment come back as quickly. It would be a few years difference. But it would still work. It would still be OK.

So this report actually exposes the lie that the hoteliers that the hoteliers and the politicians were putting out there a couple years ago when they said it had to be contiguous.

SCOTT: Alright, we are talking to Cory Briggs, the lawyer who shut down the last convention center convention. Let us move right on because if you are driving down the road right now and you are a sports fan and you could care less about comic-con and you could care less about convention center expansion which hopefully people do care about this stuff because it really does impact the future of the City. Let’s turn everything you have just talked about into the stadium/keeping the Chargers.

How does this report and how does the Mayor’s support for the report impact a potential stadium and keeping the Chargers in San Diego.

CORY: I think this report and the politicians reaction to it is like giving the Chargers their eviction papers. I don’t see how they stay at this point. The announcement yesterday that the Mayor is basically doubling down on a contiguous expansion; he now favors a tax increase that would require a 2/3 vote which is impossible to get by his own polling data a few weeks ago. Its a tax-hike on tourists that will only benefit the hoteliers. Uh, this completely precludes any chance of doing a compromise that would involve an expansion on tailgate park. A compromise that would at least give the Chargers the option of staying in San Diego. They of course would have to bring their checkbook, but they would have the option of going to the site where they want to be. This forecloses all of that. Its done.
And when you add the fact that the City Attorney recently said, ‘well, I think there are questions about the viability of Carson and the legal strategy the Chargers have used there, makes it sounds like he is beating the war-drum to go file a lawsuit over Carson, you are just forcing the Chargers to go to Inglewood.
If you wanted to screw this up worse, I don’t think you could have.

SCOTT: Cory Briggs is with us on Scott and BR on the Mighty 1090 via the Corky’s hotline, um … to me, as I look at it, it strengthens Mark Fabiani’s position Cory, tell me if you agree or disagree, to go to the NFL and say, ‘look, the Mayor is willing to put general fund money into the stadium in Mission Valley, when, if he would raise the tax on tourism, we could build two facilities in one in downtown San Diego and I just think that the actions of the Mayor strengthen Fabiani’s position to the NFL that says we can’t get it done. We can’t work with these people. I hate to use his word, he’s called them, “singularly unsuccessful,” he’s called the City,” unsophisticated.” These sorts of moves I think make Fabiani look more right than wrong.

CORY: If Mr. Fabiani and Mr. Spanos don’t have a massive hangover from all of the champagne they drank last night after what the City did and what the City announced yesterday, I can’t see how they City could have made it any easier for the Chargers to make the case to the NFL that they’ve got to go to LA. This was such a botched move in terms of keeping the Chargers here in San Diego.

SCOTT: Now, let’s assume. Let’s just play it out for a second. The Chargers go to the NFL. This really did strengthen their position, and they league says, you can apply and you can be granted relocation. Let’s just play that out.


SCOTT: The Chargers go play in LA in 2016, right? The Mayor continues down this path of, ‘I’m going to ask the voters for a 67% vote to get this expansion of the convention center. Um, first of all, the likelihood of getting that percentage seems very low. I mean in terms of voters to come out and support that, #1. #2, Aren’t guys like you going to go file lawsuits and shut this thing down if they are planning on expanding on a public park.

CORY: Yeah. There’s not going to be an expansion on the waterfront. This is a pipe dream. Not going to happen.

SCOTT: How can you guarantee that?

CORY: They are never going to get the voters to approve the money necessary to do this. Their price just went up in 24 hours from 410 to 549 million and that’s before they actually have someone who is competent to do the analysis tell you what the real number is. And they are going to take that to the voters and say, ‘give us money to do this.’ Its not going to happen in San Diego.

SCOTT: Alright, well we will pick this up another time. Cory Briggs, thank you for some strong opinions today. Appreciate it.

CORY: You are welcome gentlemen. Have a good one.

SCOTT: Back to you.

Have Questions?