SAN DIEGO (AP) — Chargers chairman Dean Spanos hired businessman and former developer Fred Maas on Monday to head the team’s citizens’ initiative process to get a measure for a new stadium on the November ballot.
Maas is expected to bring a new voice to the team’s long, bitter attempt to replace aging Qualcomm Stadium. He is considered to have a good relationship with City Hall and was the city’s stadium point man under former Mayor Jerry Sanders.
Spanos said attorney Mark Fabiani will continue to be part of the stadium process. Fabiani spent most of last year attacking Mayor Kevin Faulconer’s proposals to keep the team, and the Chargers’ attempts to move to the Los Angeles area angered many fans.
NFL owners voted down the Chargers’ efforts to partner with the rival Oakland Raiders to build a stadium in Carson. However, the owners gave the Chargers the option to join the Los Angeles Rams in a stadium in Inglewood expected to open in 2019.
Although the Chargers agreed in principle to join the Rams, Spanos announced on Jan. 29 that the team would remain in San Diego at least through 2016 in an attempt to get a new stadium. The NFL will give the Chargers and Raiders each an extra $100 million to go toward new stadiums in their home markets. That’s on top of a $200 million loan available to each team.
Spanos and Maas met with Faulconer on Monday afternoon.
Maas will be "in charge of this particular initiative, this stadium effort, going forward," Spanos said in a video posted on the team’s website.
Maas, a former chairman of the Centre City Development Corp., will advise Spanos on drafting the initiative, picking a location and developing a financing plan that will include a significant public contribution. Maas will work with an established team of legal, financial and land-use advisers.
Spanos said Maas is familiar with the city’s politics and "his knowledge of San Diego as whole will give us the best chance to get this initiative passed."
Spanos said the team has yet to settle on whether it wants a new stadium at the Qualcomm site in Mission Valley or downtown.
When Maas met with Faulconer’s stadium advisory group last March, he said it would be a no-brainer to build a new stadium in Mission Valley, and that a downtown stadium would take too long and cost too much.
Before they attempted to move to Los Angeles, the Chargers wanted to build a stadium downtown as part of a noncontiguous expansion of the convention center. Faulconer and County Commissioner Ron Roberts contend that building a new stadium at the Qualcomm site would be quicker and cheaper because the city owns the land there. They’ve said building a stadium downtown would be made more difficult because a bus yard would have to be relocated.
Faulconer and Roberts have held firm on their offers of public money: $200 million from the city and $150 million from the county. Their proposal calls for the Chargers to contribute $353 million, which would be defrayed by the additional $100 million from the NFL and a naming rights deal.
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