The city of San Diego unnecessarily spent money on a third party to help secure new naming rights for the former Qualcomm Stadium, according to a grand jury report released Tuesday.
Fox Sports College Properties received a 25 percent commission — amounting to $125,000 — for landing San Diego Country Credit Union as the new naming sponsor of the stadium that served as home of the San Diego Chargers prior to the team's decision to move to Los Angeles last year. The Qualcomm partnership expired last May. The credit union paid $500,000 for naming rights that extend only through the end of this year, when the city plans to close the stadium.
According to Fox 5, officials from the city’s Real Estate Assets Division said they didn’t have the expertise to value naming rights, but the grand jury concluded that "a simple internet search provides numerous hits on the value of stadium and arena naming rights,” according to its report. "It also may be argued that there was no established market value for the naming rights for a 50-year-old decaying stadium with no professional sports anchor tenant.
"It was a unique item in the American sports world, and Fox Sports’ market familiarity did not offer anything beyond the city’s own resources.”
The grand jury’s investigation into recent stadium management practices came after it learned of the city’s agreements with Fox Sports and the nonprofit San Diego Bowl Game Association, which was also contracted in 2017 to sell suites and press boxes, Fox 5 reported. The grand jury also determined that the Bowl Game Association contract, too, was unnecessary, since stadium staff was already familiar with the suite sales process, and that the money spent could have been used to offset suite operations and maintenance.
The stadium still hosts San Diego State University events, as well as concerts.
Finally, the grand jury found that city staff didn’t have authority to issue contracts to Fox Sports and the Bowl Game Association without a competitive bidding process.