Mayor hopes for fresh start with Chargers on stadium talks
SAN DIEGO (AP) -- Mayor Kevin Faulconer left a message for Chargers chairman Dean Spanos on Wednesday, inviting him back to the negotiating table.
Spanos was still traveling back from Houston, where on Tuesday night he suffered a stinging defeat while still being granted the chance to leave San Diego for Los Angeles.
"I indicated I'm looking forward to the opportunity to get together and discuss things positively and collaboratively," Faulconer said at a news conference at City Hall, where he was joined by County Commissioner Ron Roberts and City Attorney Jan Goldsmith.
Faulconer said the NFL's rejection of the Chargers' plans to build a stadium in Carson with the Oakland Raiders gives both sides the opportunity for a fresh start in what has been a bruising saga in San Diego that has damaged the team's relationship with what had been a loyal fan base.
But it's up to Spanos to decide if he wants to restart talks in San Diego with an extra $100 million from the NFL to go toward a replacement for aging Qualcomm Stadium, or come to an agreement with Stan Kroenke to join the St. Louis Rams in Inglewood.
NFL owners voted 30-2 to allow Kroenke to build a $1.8 billion stadium in Inglewood. The Rams are expected to play in the Los Angeles Coliseum beginning in the fall.
Spanos appeared stunned at a news conference in Houston on Tuesday night.
The Chargers walked away from talks with San Diego city and county leaders in June.
Mark Fabiani, the attorney who has led the Chargers' stadium effort on Spanos' behalf, declined to answer specific questions about San Diego on Wednesday.
"I will just reiterate what Dean said last night: The Chargers have been approved by the NFL to relocate to Los Angeles, and now that the NFL meetings are over Dean is going to take a few days to evaluate the franchise's new options," Fabiani said in an email.
Fabiani did not respond when asked if he and Spanos had met with Kroenke on Tuesday night to discuss a deal to be either a partner or a tenant in Inglewood.
The Chargers must notify the NFL by March whether they intend to move to Los Angeles for the 2016 season.
The Chargers have been trying since 2002 to replace Qualcomm. The long-running stadium saga turned nasty in the last year as Fabiani fiercely opposed Faulconer's proposals to keep the team.
Faulconer and Roberts issued a statement Tuesday night that had a bit of an edge to it, saying they "are not interested in a charade by the Chargers if they continue to pursue Los Angeles."
Faulconer had a little different outlook Wednesday.
"Today is an opportunity for a fresh start," he said. "I sincerely believe that we can create both success for the Chargers' organization and the San Diego region if we have a sincere commitment to work together, the city and Mr. Spanos."
Asked who had the leverage, Faulconer replied: "I don't think it's about that at all. I think it's about an opportunity for a fresh start. A lot happened this past year. But we do have on the table a plan that's viable, if we approach this in a spirit of openness and cooperation."
Faulconer and Roberts indicated that it could be difficult getting a measure on the June ballot, and that the November ballot seemed more realistic.
The leaders indicated they don't plan to move off their offer of a $350 million public contribution toward a $1.1 billion stadium at the Qualcomm Stadium site. The city-county proposal calls for the Chargers to contribute $353 million with the NFL adding another $200 million in a loan, plus the $100 million in new money. Naming rights could be credited toward the Chargers' portion.
Finances were never discussed during three brief negotiating sessions between the team and the city and county. Instead, the Chargers raised concerns with a hastily conducted environmental impact statement they felt could get tied up in court.
Faulconer's top political strategist, Jason Cabel Roe, has said that if the Chargers resume negotiations, they need to come without Fabiani because he has no credibility with elected officials.
However, Goldsmith said Wednesday he could work with Fabiani.
The Chargers have indicated in the past that they'd like a downtown stadium. But Faulconer and Roberts said that option would be more expensive and take longer.
Fabiani didn't answer a question about whether the Chargers would try to get their own initiative on the ballot.
Asked the odds of getting something done, Faulconer said: "Our chances of success when we work together are astronomically better."