San Diego unveiled a $1.1 billion proposal to build a stadium in the city’s Mission Valley area to keep the team there, replacing the antiquated Qualcomm Stadium. The proposal, however, only includes one-third of the cost to be publicly financed, leaving the Chargers and the NFL responsible for over $750 million of the cost. Chargers executive Mark Fabiani rebuked the proposal and city officials, saying “The Chargers have been clear from the start that the franchise will not be the city’s guinea pig for this inevitably ill-fated legal experiment.”
The Los Angeles Chargers; get used to seeing that name. It rolls off of the tongue easier than the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, and maybe even the UCLA Bruins. In what appears to be a laughable attempt by San Diego municipal officials to propose an NFL stadium plan, Chargers executives told the city in a not-so polite fashion that the proposal was highly inadequate. It may not have the same shock-value of Anchorman Ron Burgundy’s famous utterance, as many NFL experts believe that the team’s relocation to Los Angeles is merely a formality. Former NFL executive and NFL stadium expert Carmen Policy said aloud what many in the city acknowledge internally. Policy told reporters following an NFL owners meeting in Chicago on Tuesday that “the Chargers and Raiders are committed to Los Angeles.” Policy announced that the teams are working on plans to build a stadium in the Los Angeles suburb of Carson, as well as citing research showing that the two teams have the largest NFL fan bases of any teams in the Los Angeles area, which currently does not have an NFL franchise.
The announcement came after the city and county of San Diego unveiled a $1.1 billion proposal to build a stadium in the city’s Mission Valley area to keep the team there, replacing the antiquated Qualcomm Stadium. The proposal, however, only includes one-third of the cost to be publicly financed, leaving the Chargers and the NFL responsible for over $750 million of the cost. The five most recently-built NFL stadiums have averaged 48 percent of their funding coming from public sources, including only 33 percent from Dallas’s “JerryLand” and 9 percent for Levi Stadium near San Francisco. Chargers executive Mark Fabiani rebuked the proposal and city officials, saying “The Chargers have been clear from the start that the franchise will not be the city’s guinea pig for this inevitably ill-fated legal experiment.” The city council set a September 21st deadline on completing a deal, with its chances of success looking ever-bleaker. In addition to presenting the proposal at the Chicago meeting, San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer also showcased a 6,000 page draft of the project’s environmental impact report. Despite the lackluster reception, Faulconer and county officials acknowledge that at least they have come to the table, and have issued a concrete and feasible plan.
While both the Chargers and Oakland Raiders have given the go-ahead to break ground on the Carson project, they are not the only teams issuing a stadium proposal in Los Angeles. St. Louis Rams owner Stan Kroenke also presented a bid to build a stadium on land that he purchased last year in Inglewood in hopes to land the Rams and one other NFL team into the facility. Kroekne’s proposal has garnered the support of some influential NFL owners, namely Dallas’s Jerry Jones. Although the Carson project is the front-runner, there is a chance that a deal to construct the Carson facility could fall-through, leaving Kronke’s proposal to be the clear favorite. Adding support to the Carson project is the fact that 25 percent of the Chargers fan base hails from the Los Angeles area, and many consider San Diego to be an extension to the Southern California metropolis. All three teams have played in Los Angeles at one point in their histories.
Still San Diego city attorney Jan Goldsmith said of the NFL, “If they want an NFL franchise in the eighth-largest city in the nation, this is the time they make the decision. We have demonstrated we can meet their earliest timeframes.” Any stadium agreement between San Diego and the Chargers would have to be finalized in time for a January 12th citywide vote. Fabiani believes, however, that city residents have acquiesced to the loss of their team, and that even the low percentage of public money would be difficult to raise. In a statement following the NFL meeting, Fabiani said “Both history and current polling show it will be extraordinarily difficult to persuade voters to devote hundreds of millions of General Fund tax dollars to a stadium, but in the end any funding plan is going to be dragged down into the quicksand of the City’s legally inadequate environmental review process – a process that will be bogged down in court for years before it is eventually declared illegal.
ESPN – ESPN News Service
NBC7 San Diego – Derek Togerson
SB Nation – Matthew Stanley
San Diego Union-Tribune – Kevin Acee