Rumors from the Web
What’s wrong with that
we’ve all grown to know and love?
Now that the NFL has made an agreement with Nike to
become the new jersey provider to the 32 NFL teams
in place of Reebok, it looks like they have decided
to take them all in a new direction. Here’s what
had to say on the subject.
"On the day that the NFL announced
Nike will replace Reebok
as the league’s uniform supplier
in 2012, a Nike official said changes are coming to NFL
President Charlie Denson told Darren Rovell
of CNBC that the change would be similar to
changes that Nike has made to college
“We plan on
changing the NFL
jersey dramatically just like we’ve done with the college
programs, using new
thinking and the greatest technology available,” Denson
said. “The NFL program hasn’t had the same type of
advancement in recent years.
After years of Reebok leading the way on NFL
jerseys, it will be interesting to see what dramatic changes
Nike comes up with. I just hope no NFL team follows
the hideous example of
in college football."
If these really are what Nike has in store for the
Chargers, I’m a little disappointed. Email me your thoughts:
Latest on Stadium ....
City must call another stadium audible
San Diego Union-Tribune,
June 10, 2015
We are hurtling toward the
And that light
we see at the end of the tunnel, it could be a train.
change in course, it seems increasingly likely we will
know by the time the NFL season starts whether the
Chargers intend to apply for relocation.
There is hope in that the principals involved knows this
to be the case. They know the parameters, know the
issues and know how to at least give this a chance of
city/county proposal for a December special election did
not catch the Chargers by surprise. Nor did it in any
way change the team’s belief that a ballot measure in
2015 will ultimately lead to failure.
main concern is the legality of the vote proposal. There
is a concern that even if voters approved the stadium
plan, the project would be challenged in court on
environmental grounds. This is what the team’s lawyers
have been saying for a while. It is what they are in the
process of triple- and quadruple-vetting.
Not even those on the city’s
side deny California’s litigious nature when it comes to
opposing large projects and the near certainty the
project will be challenged in court.
multiple sources, the Chargers voiced concerns in
Monday’s powwow. They are expected to present a more
forceful argument in the sides’ next meeting on Tuesday.
happens, the city/county coalition will respectfully
disagree and maintain a successful outcome is possible
via a Dec. 15 election.
see. The sides won’t go back and forth for long. They
both know there isn’t time.
point, the process could well devolve into a
blame-spreading war with bombs dropped by both sides.
Or – and
don’t stop me if you’ve heard this one before – the city
will call an audible and play for overtime.
Yes, I’m back
to that. Never left, really.
Whether it was a realistic
concept or not, Mayor Kevin Faulconer’s move Monday was
necessary to budge this process. He said the city and
county have a solution, forcing the Chargers to say
“yea” or “nay.” To that, we should say, “Yay!”
sides will either continue to work for a solution or
they commence the war that ends the war.
cannot force the Chargers to stay. Fact is, the Chargers
don’t want to risk that they’ll be sitting in court
while the St. Louis Rams are sitting in Los Angeles. And
the NFL will not compel the Chargers to do so.
That is an
understanding which San Diego’s government officials
must have. And they do. It’s why they threw the special
election Hail Mary. It’s why they would gladly take the
extra time to put together a 2016 ballot measure.
keeps crossing a moving finish line. If they want to
win, they need to keep running until they break the real
what the NFL might be compelled to do is put off
relocation to Los Angeles for another year.
Multiple NFL sources, including
those who believe Spanos has the support of enough
fellow owners to vote against the Rams relocating, have
said in the past week that it is possible there are no
teams in L.A. in 2016. Most also say a delay seems
unlikely at this point.
better than what we have now. Aside from nearly certain
legal hang-ups, a ballot measure has zero chance without
the Chargers’ endorsement and full cooperation.
So, it will
once again be time, when the Chargers say the current
plan isn't workable, for the Mayor and his group to make
an offensive move. They must graciously accept the
Chargers’ declination of the election proposal and ask
the team for more time to work together toward an
equitable solution, a citizens’ initiative and a 2016
ballot measure that has a greater chance of success (and
far less of a chance to be challenged).
Chargers and the NFL really want to remain in San Diego,
they can work to make that happen.
These are the
rules by which we must play if we want the Chargers to
should tell them straightaway to book the moving vans.
announced last month they have sold more season tickets
than at this time last year, and a team source confirmed
this week that pace remains intact. Also, the source
said, the team has a virtually full complement of
corporate sponsorship commitments.
perceived as a lame duck is not what the team wants, of
course. But that perception (or reality) is something it
can weather financially.
years, with L.A. looming, this has long been about
Depending on the next steps, time may have run out
Stadium vote could be Dec. 15
San Diego officials say accelerated timeline
possible; Chargers decline to comment
, Union-Tribune San
Diego, June 8, 2015
SAN DIEGO — San Diego officials announced Monday
that a citywide vote on a possible new Chargers stadium
could happen as early as Dec. 15, a few weeks before the
January 2016 window the NFL has tentatively set for
teams to apply for relocation to the Los Angeles area.
Officials said an election
could be held that quickly if ongoing negotiations with
the Chargers about a stadium financing plan are
A deal would have to be reached
and the City Council would have to approve the ballot
measure by Sept. 18, because state law requires at least
88 days to elapse between a city placing something on
the ballot and a public vote taking place.
“San Diegans deserve a vote on
a new stadium and today we discussed a framework that
allows for a vote this year,” said Mayor Kevin Faulconer,
who was flanked by county officials and a team of
stadium experts recently hired by the city.
The announcement, which came at
a news conference just outside City Hall, was made
shortly after the second negotiating session between the
city and the Chargers ended after about 90 minutes on
The parties agreed Monday to
have a third meeting that hasn’t been scheduled but will
take place in “the next couple days,” Faulconer said.
Chargers special counsel Mark
Fabiani said in an email shortly after the news
conference that the team won’t be commenting on the
proposed special election date or the status of
The Chargers have been
simultaneously pursuing a joint stadium with the Oakland
Raiders in the Los Angeles suburb of Carson. The team
has also been mentioned as a possible second tenant for
a stadium proposed by St. Louis Rams owner Stan Kroenke
in the Los Angeles suburb of Inglewood.
The June 2016 primary and the
November 2016 general election have previously been
mentioned as likely times for a public stadium vote.
San Diego would quicken the
process by opting not to have the ballot measure be an
initiative, which would have required the time and
expense of gathering signatures from thousands of
In Carson and Inglewood,
signatures were gathered for initiatives to expedite
eventual environmental approvals of those stadiums. So
it’s possible that opting against an initiative could
create environmental delays to stadium construction in
San Diego down the road.
The election would be by mail
ballot, which is less expensive than a traditional
election where many voters travel to polling places. The
city would cover all of the election costs, with $2
million a rough estimate mentioned on Monday.
While the county would
participate in stadium financing, only city voters would
participate in the mail-ballot election because county
regulations don’t allow mail-only elections, Supervisor
Ron Roberts said.
The county Board of
Supervisors, however, would approve the language of the
ballot measure, including any financial contribution
from the county.
It’s not clear how detailed the
ballot measure would be regarding the stadium financing.
It will likely be based, at least in part, on a $1.4
billion financing plan released last month by
Faulconer’s stadium task force.
Among the public contributions
in that plan are $121 million each from county and city
taxpayers and $225 million from selling city land at the
Qualcomm stadium site where the new stadium would be
The proposal also includes a
$300 million contribution from the Chargers and $200
million from the NFL.
Faulconer said the city’s
proposed timeline was presented Monday to Fabiani,
Chargers owner Dean Spanos and stadium experts hired by
Faulconer said the reaction
from Spanos was “there’s a lot of work to get this done
by the end of the year.”
The mayor agreed and said the
city was ready.
“We need to meet at least once
a week for the next several weeks, and we’re committed
to doing that if not more,” Faulconer said.
Accelerating the process is
partly based on pressure from the NFL. In April, NFL
Executive Vice President Eric Grubman, who’s overseeing
possible franchise relocations to Los Angeles, told city
officials that “time is slipping away” for San Diego and
that he’d like to see a public vote long before the June
Chris Melvin, an attorney for
Nixon-Peabody and the city’s lead negotiator, said he
was optimistic the Chargers would help accelerate the
“We have committed to them and
I think they have committed to us to try to get this
done,” he said.
A Dec. 15 vote fits well with
concerns raised by county Registrar of Voters Michael
Vu, who recently told the city any special election must
take place by late January because that’s when his staff
must start preparing for the June primary.
Vu also said he’d need four to
five months notice for a special election so he can hire
poll workers and make other arrangements.
City Attorney Jan Goldsmith
said Vu has been involved in the city’s timeline
“We put together a timeline,
with help from the county counsel and with input from
the Registrar of Voters, that would enable this to go to
voter approval before the end of the year,” Goldsmith
Faulconer reiterated Monday
that an election must be held to prevent a referendum
from slowing the process down and because voters deserve
to weigh in on such a major proposal.
“A public vote provides more
certainty and saves time by removing the possibility of
a costly and lengthy referendum challenge,” said
Faulconer, noting how common referendums have become in
San Diego recently. “It’s also the right thing to do. A
project of this size and scope should be ratified by
majority vote of the people.”
It’s not clear what effect a
mail ballot would have on turnout, but in some cases the
convenience of voting without going to the polls has
Melvin, the city’s lead
negotiator, said the negotiations so far have been
“We’ve had two very
well-thought-out and structured business discussions
with the Chargers and their legal representatives,” he
said. “We have gone through a myriad of issues.”
Supervisor Roberts said much
more of the same will be necessary.
“We are at the start of a very
complex negotiation,” he said. “It’s not going to be
over in a few days as you can imagine.”
San Diego makes move in stadium game
Union-Tribune San Diego,
June 8, 2015
Put all the talk aside. Forget,
for now, what could have previously been done. Don’t
concentrate on the mountain(s) still to be scaled.
progress made Monday.
The Mayor of
San Diego and his team took an action step, telling the
Chargers how a stadium initiative can get to ballot this
will ultimately result in accomplishing anything remains
to be seen. The proposed timeline to get to a Dec. 15
special election is fraught with challenges – some of
which the Chargers have already pointed out and all of
which we’ll be discussing in the coming weeks.
Don’t forget, either, that the
commitment by the city to an election will now bring out
the anti-stadium factions that have until now been
relatively quiet. Those folks have a right to be heard,
and we know all about them having their own lawyers who
can create delays.
But what Kevin Faulconer & Co.
did Monday is all that could be asked at this point. It
is a start.
And it is, in
essence, a gauntlet that needed to be thrown.
have been highly skeptical about a public vote getting
done before the end of 2015, which is the approximate
timeframe in which the NFL has indicated it will make a
decision on whether a team (or teams) will be allowed to
move to Los Angeles.
In fact, the
Chargers saw no need to fully delve into negotiations
until the city demonstrated how and when it could get a
stadium plan approved.
city and county told them how they’ll do it.
the intent is to say (very publicly) to the Chargers:
"We can do this if you work with us."
In fact, at a
press conference after the sides met Monday, Faulconer
repeated something very much like that, each time
emphasizing the word “if.”
At the very least, the Chargers
are now obligated to show why the city/county proposal
won’t work. And they had better do an excellent job at
that if it’s the road they choose, because they would be
battling the perception they simply don’t want to stay.
certainly wouldn’t be impossible for Mark Fabiani & Co.
It’s quite possible the Chargers saw this city/county
gambit coming. And it’s certain that none of the
specifics proposed by the city/county were a surprise to
the Chargers’ team.
have extremely strong corner men, with Goldman Sachs as
their investment banker and Latham & Watkins as their
The team on
Monday was represented by those two heavyweight helpers
– the same ones that helped them get a stadium approved
in Carson. Latham & Watkins are the same experts on
California land use and election law who have been
privately advising the Chargers it isn’t not possible to
finalize a stadium proposal and get a ballot measure
approved in San Diego in ‘15.
But the city
says it can do it. The city is the one that says it will
Its plan does not require the
Chargers to fund an initiative, as the team did in
Carson. What it does require is the Chargers’ active
participation in negotiations.
Now – and this
is a big now – if they move forward, the sides
still need to do a lot of work and come to an agreement
on financing in the next six to eight weeks or so.
After some 13
years of nothing getting done, hardly anything
significant really even being proposed, we need two
sides who don’t trust each other to finalize a solution
in less than two months. Absolutely final language for a
ballot initiative must be approved by the City Council
by Sept. 18, 88 days prior to the proposed election (as
required by law).
days from now.
No doubt, the
Chargers are also dubious that can happen.
whatever problems/hostility there has been between the
sides to this point, the principles on the Chargers’
side have a great deal of respect for the experts (Nixon
Peabody and Citigroup) brought in by the city. It’s who
they’ve wanted at the table for some time.
the Chargers surprise many people and move forward in
so, there are many issues for the sides to slog through.
will almost certainly have to up their financial
commitment to around $300 million ($500 million,
including a $200 million loan from the NFL), which is
what the Citizens Stadium Advisory Group suggested in
its May financing proposal. The city and county will
have to show concretely how they can actually support
some of the public funding they propose, as well as how
they’ll get timely environmental approval for the
That’s just a
But at least
we’re to the point where that sort of negotiating can
If the Chargers want it to.
Goldsmith’s stadium gambit
Political notebook: City attorney's plan
causes dust up, but what's the
Union-Tribune San Diego,
June 7, 2015
The moves by City Attorney Jan
Goldsmith regarding Chargers stadium negotiations sure
It was revealed this past week
that in late April Goldsmith privately proposed that the
city and county’s new hired guns immediately start talks
with the Chargers and not wait for recommendations from
the mayor’s stadium task force due three weeks later.
When the recommendations come
out, Goldsmith said, they shouldn’t be discussed
publicly by the principals involved.
Short of dismantling the task
force altogether, this figures to be pretty much what
the Chargers wanted.
Under this proposal,
negotiations in theory could start from scratch, perhaps
allowing the Chargers to revive their downtown stadium
dream, or at least try. The task force recommendations
could be added to the mix weeks after negotiations
started, rather than setting the framework from the
The Chargers never wanted what
the task force would come up with. They knew — we all
knew — that the panel would recommend Qualcomm Stadium
as the preferred site and that the Chargers and NFL must
have some serious skin in the game (half a billion
dollars). Those are two things Mayor Kevin Faulconer no
doubt wanted and two things the Chargers really didn’t.
Goldsmith didn’t want to
release the emails where all this was discussed. The
city ultimately put them out after cajoling and legal
threats by the
Voice of San Diego.
Whatever the legal reasons for
wanting to keep the memos private, there are at least
two possible political reasons. Goldsmith could come off
as siding with the Chargers’ interests rather than the
city’s, while undercutting the mayor in the process.
Weeks ago, Voice of San Diego’s
Scott Lewis wrote that the city attorney had
private meetings with the Chargers, but declined an
invitation to appear privately before the mayor’s task
force, voicing concern that what he said could be
Another popular view is
Faulconer Chief of Staff Stephen Puetz’s initial testy
response criticizing the proposal might give the
impression the mayor passed on starting negotiations
earlier — as the visions of Chargers’ moving vans headed
to Carson dance in the public mind.
It also could be that Goldsmith
just saw a need to mediate away from a train wreck many
see coming. However, keeping the media and the public in
the dark seems a funny way to try and save the day.
In the grand scheme of things,
I’m not sure these revelations will have much effect on
where this is all going.
In the end, the mayor and
Chargers both may have gotten some benefit from this
dust up going public.
The mayor can’t publicly say
how he really feels about the Chargers behavior, but
probably isn’t unhappy with us hearing it through
Puetz’s email that was supposed to be private. Puetz
depicts the Chargers as untrustworthy and petty,
contending the team canceled a meeting between owner
Dean Spanos and Faulconer because a task force member
said something on the radio that team Special Counsel
Mark Fabiani didn’t like.
The Chargers can use this as
further evidence for the NFL that the team has been
stymied again in its age-old effort to get a stadium
deal done here: If the mayor and city attorney, in
essence, can’t agree on the shape of the negotiating
table, what hope is there for us in this town?
Tweet of the week
Goes to communications maven
“The Chargers drama is
One Maas chance at stadium solution?
Union-Tribune San Diego,
June 5, 2015
When looking forward seems too
daunting, it sometimes helps to look back.
Such an exercise might produce
nothing more than wistful and/or wishful thinking, but
it’s better than what we’ve got now.
No one knows what would have
occurred had this or that had been different. Trying to
change the past, or live in it, is wasted energy. But
we've reached a point so desperate that it is not folly
to wonder "what if," especially if there is even just
the smallest chance to, in essence, go back to the
To that end, people from all
spectra – those aligned with the city, with the team and
other interested parties around town -- think this
stadium saga would have played out a whole lot different
had Fred Maas been brought in as a sort of broker
between the sides.
Mass is the developer,
businessman and civic leader that Mayor Kevin Faulconer
spoke to at length late last year about joining the
“I consider (Faulconer) a good
friend and believe he’s very passionate about keeping
the team here,” Maas said Thursday.
Maas was also preapproved by
the Chargers as a person the team would respect and
happily work with, giving him quite a rare distinction
of being one of the few power brokers in town who can
consider himself aligned with both Faulconer and Dean
Spanos. (That’s huge. Spanos sometimes doesn’t mix well
with others. And whatever you make of that, Spanos
happens to be the most important person in all this.)
Alas, Maas withdrew from
consideration in December. He said it would be a correct
characterization to describe his reason for doing so as
his not believing the course the city was taking, with
the Citizens Stadium Advisory Group, would yield a
“I recognized a new mayor has
got to go through his own process and get a grasp of
complex issues and do it in a time frame that works for
him and his team,” Maas said. “I decided it was not
worth that commitment.”
He has “great respect” for the
task force members, counts some on the group as friends.
But he was former Mayor Jerry Sanders’ point man on
stadium issues and has been involved in local business
and politics for a long time. Maas says he didn’t see
much workable in the CSAG plan that hadn’t already been
vetted by the Chargers, the city or the league over the
It is significant to understand
Maas is a proponent of a downtown stadium. But he has
also articulated support for the Qualcomm site, as he
agrees with many downtown detractors about the
challenges an East Village project would face.
This brings us to the problem
Of the CSAG proposal made
public on May 18, Maas said, “A lot is being asked of
the team and a lot is being asked of the community. And
much has slipped between the cup and lip how all those
commitments would be honored.”
As in, there are many gaps in
the financing plan. And even what might be workable
starting points won’t have the opportunity to fully
With all that to be worked out,
Maas is among the growing legion that doesn’t see how a
stadium deal can be worked out here by the end of the
year, which is when the NFL has indicated it will make a
decision on whether any team(s) will be allowed to move
to Los Angeles.
No later than October, the NFL
is expected to decide when to open the window for teams
to apply for relocation. There is something of a
deadline coming sooner than that. Team owners are
scheduled to meet Aug. 11 to discuss the situations in
the home markets of the Chargers, St. Louis Rams and
“To think we’ve been at this 12
years and then to think they’ll negotiate and have a
solution in 60 days is more than optimistic,” Maas said.
Take that from a guy who is
familiar with what the city can do, what the Chargers
are willing to do and with what is involved in getting
projects done in San Diego.
Too, though, take this:
“If the league, in its infinite
wisdom, decided to give everyone time to sort this out,”
Maas said, “I think we would have time to come up with a
That is a sentiment voiced by
several people – that more time is San Diego’s only
chance. Now, I don’t want to give false hope. Three
different NFL sources this week volunteered the
possibility the league could put off relocation another
year – and then quickly shot that option full of holes.
All three emphatically opined that Spanos has gathered
the nine necessary votes from owners to block the Rams
For one, the Chargers’ lose
control of the Carson land in April. If there is a
possibility of keeping that site from being transferred
to the city of Carson, it would come with many zeroes
being subtracted from Spanos’ bank account. Also – and
this is the concern most vehemently proffered – St.
Louis Rams owner Stan Kroenke is almost certainly not
going to be inclined to put off his project and could
somehow force the league’s hand.
Virtually unanimous, though, is
the opinion that if relocation happens for the 2016
season the Chargers will be one of the teams applying to
go. No team desires to be the second to arrive in the
So San Diego is up against it,
faced with few options.
What needs to happen when the
sides meet Monday is the city and county must show how
they can get a vote done this year. If they cannot, they
must demonstrate they will listen to what the Chargers
For that, the Chargers have to
actually make a proposal. The team has to provide at
least an outline of what it would take for it to start
earnestly negotiating. It has to make the city/county
group understand what it would take to put off the NFL
decision for a year.
Then, maybe San Diego gets a
And it wouldn’t be a bad idea
to give it one Maas try.
Allegations Chargers quit stadium effort
Union-Tribune San Diego,
As the Chargers and San Diego’s
city/county alliance navigate the infancy of a stadium
negotiation process that needs a quick resolution, we
can try the impossible and frustrating task of
understanding how it devolved to this point.
It depends on who is offering
the perspective, but there is certainly a deepening and
widening narrative among those in and around the city
that the Chargers have slow-played – even sabotaged –
efforts to get a stadium built in San Diego.
It is easy to focus on (and
condemn) how uninterested the Chargers have seemed of
late – if one is inclined to ignore how
plodding the city has been over the years.
Hamstrung by various factors at
various times and largely beholden to a political
process, San Diego’s government has only recently gotten
on the fast track. No one disputes the city is now the
one pushing the train.
The Chargers, meanwhile, can
rightly talk about having worked to get a new stadium in
San Diego for more than a decade and the frustration of
navigating the various political, financial, economic
and environmental morasses its home market has presented
in that time.
But it does seem the team
reached a point where it gave up. In a vulnerably honest
moment, it might even acknowledge that.
Now, with this process at its
most crucial juncture, we have to wonder what evidence
there is the Chargers will suddenly become an earnest
Many in the city certainly
Multiple sources have laid out
a pattern of behavior by the Chargers that has led them
to believe the team initially tried to dupe Mayor Kevin
Faulconer into thinking time was not of the essence.
Essentially, those sources believe, Chargers special
counsel Mark Fabiani was trying to lull Faulconer to
sleep while the Chargers worked on slipping out of town.
It’s tempting to share that
Primary among their assertions
is that the Mayor’s office was told by Fabiani last
summer that there was no sense of urgency – even to the
point that Fabiani said November 2016 might be too soon
for a public vote on the stadium.
That interaction is just one
instance of what sources say were several times where
the Chargers seemed wary of any suggestions by the
Mayor’s staff of furthering a partnership.
maneuvering is conjoined in the minds of those on the
city’s side with a contention about Fabiani’s
consistently negative spin on the state of affairs in
San Diego and the team’s continued efforts in Los
However, discussions over the
past several months with Chargers and NFL sources, as
well as others with knowledge of the situation, leave a
largely disparate impression.
Regardless of what Fabiani said
or didn’t say last summer, it is undisputed that the
team was on record with Faulconer in late 2014 that time
was of the essence. The Mayor publicly stated in
December that he understood the specter of Los Angeles
to be real and that he would be taking action in early
That action ultimately was the
creation of the Citizens Stadium Advisory Group. The
Mayor’s office alerted Fabiani of the plan to assemble
CSAG. Whether he voiced the Chargers’ opposition to the
Mayor prior to the public announcement in late January
is a point of contention. The Chargers certainly made
clear after the announcement that they felt the task
force was a waste of precious time.
What is not in dispute is that
the Chargers always favored the city bringing in outside
Late in 2014, Faulconer began
to meet with Fred Maas, a widely respected and
well-connected local businessman and civic leader who
served as former Mayor Jerry Sanders’ stadium point man.
The intention was to possibly bring on Maas as a sort of
stadium czar for the city. Maas, who is part of a small
group of people than can count both Faulconer and
Chargers chairman Dean Spanos as fans, ultimately
declined, deciding the course the Mayor wanted to take
would not yield the desired result of a stadium
According to several sources,
Spanos began to believe around that time there would be
an effort by the city to protect itself publicly and set
up the team for blame if it departed. By many accounts,
it was in late ’14 and early ’15 that Spanos came to the
conclusion nothing would get done in San Diego.
Subsequently, St. Louis Rams
owner Stan Kroenke’s plan to build a stadium in
Inglewood became public in early January. The Chargers
say that to that point they were essentially biding time
in their efforts to buy land in Carson – efforts alleged
in a lawsuit in Carson to have begun in 2013. They were,
they contend, forced by Kroenke’s actions to complete
the purchase and move forward with stadium quest in L.A.
– even as they watched and waited on San Diego to
present a stadium plan.
The Chargers have not denied
that watching and waiting is pretty much all they have
done in San Diego recently. Their contention is that’s
all they’ve been able to do.
In late April, the city hired
the law firm of Nixon Peabody and investment banker
Citigroup to help in negotiations with the Chargers.
While those experts researched and prepared for
negotiations, they did not engage with the Chargers
until Tuesday’s sitdown at the city attorney’s office.
That lack of contact was in
spite of the April 28 recommendation by city attorney
Jan Goldsmith that the newly hired experts meet with the
Chargers immediately. Goldsmith also suggested a media
Whatever the interpretation of
the e-mail string’s finer points – such as whether
Goldsmith was upstaging the Mayor by essentially working
around the CSAG timeline – they speak to the heart of
the problem between the two sides.
There is a frightful lack of
Fabiani agreed to Goldsmith’s
terms via e-mail. Stephen Puetz, the Mayor’s chief of
staff, responded by questioning that commitment by
Fabiani and detailed instances in which the team
“rebuffed” the Mayor’s efforts to meet.
After a face-to-face meeting
between Fabiani and Puetz, they agreed on another
meeting between the Mayor and Spanos. But not the
experts that would ultimately determine how to get a
In fact, Citigroup was not
present at the Tuesday meeting, as the sides discussed
logistics and had no need for financial input.
Fabiani, who has led the team’s
stadium efforts here since 2002, declined comment this
A Mayoral spokesman also
declined comment. In fact, the Mayor and his staff for
months have opted to not speak publicly about their
relationship with the Chargers.
Moving forward, it is incumbent
on Faulconer to set a tone, to require clear parameters
of how negotiations will progress. If what those around
him suggest about the Chargers is true, fine. At least
he knows who he is dealing with.
The NFL has set a nebulous
timeline that suggests it will make a decision on Los
Angeles no later than early February. Team owners will
hold a special meeting Aug. 11 to discuss the situation
in San Diego, as well as those in St. Louis and Oakland,
the other two cities with disgruntled teams that may try
San Diego officials have said a
public vote is necessary and that it is possible by
year’s end. The Chargers are highly dubious about the
feasibility of a vote that soon.
It is up to the city/county to
demonstrate how a vote is possible. If they do so and
the Chargers balk, it is up to the city/county to call
them out publicly.
It looks like the Chargers are
leaving, but it can be made possible for them to stay.
The Chargers must elucidate how.
Ultimately, we all need to know
Stadium talks open, Carson still looms
Property details emerge as San Diego,
Chargers begin negotiations
Union-Tribune San Diego,
San Diego officials and the
Chargers wrapped up their first negotiating session on a
proposal for a new stadium on Tuesday afternoon, meeting
for more than an hour in a downtown office building and
releasing no details.
Meanwhile, new information
emerged about a land acquisition in Carson related to an
alternative stadium plan the Chargers are pursuing with
the Oakland Raiders.
Prior to the downtown San Diego
meeting, the Chargers said the team would not be making
any public comment about the talks.
After the meeting, Mayor Kevin
Faulconer’s office released a brief statement from the
mayor, City Attorney Jan Goldsmith and county Supervisor
“Today we and our negotiating
team met with Chargers Chairman Dean Spanos and his
adviser Mark Fabiani for more than an hour. It was a
productive discussion on a variety of issues, and both
parties agreed to meet again within the next several
Spanos noted afterward that it
was "just the first meeting," according to NBC7/39.
The starting point for the
talks was expected to be a stadium financing plan
proposed May 18 by Faulconer’s stadium task force. That
plan features a $1.4 billion menu of financing options
to pay for a Mission Valley stadium estimated to cost
The potential funding in the
plan includes $300 million from the Chargers, $200
million from the NFL, roughly $200 million in bonds
backed by stadium rent, $121 million each from county
and city taxpayers, $225 million from selling city land
and millions more from seat licenses and surcharges for
parking and tickets.
The Chargers have declined to
comment on the proposal. Tuesday’s meeting took place in
the Civic Center Plaza building on B Street, three
blocks north of Horton Plaza.
The land acquired in Carson is
potentially a key part of plans for a stadium there.
The Los Angeles County
recorder’s office said the Chargers and Raiders, acting
as Carson Holdings LLC, completed the purchase of 11
acres north of Del Amo Boulevard on May 20, but the
recorder staff did not have the details until Tuesday.
The parcel is across the street
from the 157-acre site where the teams have proposed
building a $1.7 billion stadium complex.
Recorder spokesman Mike Sanchez
said the transfer tax on the transaction was $24,172.50,
which was figured at $1.10 per $100 of assessed
valuation of the land. That tax rate means the official
purchase price was $21.97 million.
Figuring the actual assessment
for property tax purposes will be the responsibility of
the county assessor’s office. The seller was Carson
Marketplace LLC, a legal entity of Starwood Capital.
Carson officials previously
said Starwood sold the much larger 157-acre former
landfill site, south of the Del Amo property, at the
same time. That property was transferred to the teams
and then to the city's reclamation agency at a nominal
price of $1,000, City Attorney Sunny Soltani said at the
Sanchez said documents related
to that larger property transfer have not been processed
by recording staff to verify the details.
Carson explained the landfill
transfer as a means to limit liability the teams might
face from the cleanup of the site, which is continuing.
The teams are planning a
68,000-seat stadium in Carson, a suburb of Los Angeles,
if they cannot arrange new stadiums in their home
Fabiani declined to comment on
the purchase price Tuesday. He said previously that the
11 acres were pegged for parking for the new stadium. A
ballot initiative mounted by the teams and approved by
the Carson City Council also indicated the land could be
used for a 350-room hotel and 350,000 square feet of
other commercial uses.
If no stadium is built, team
officials haven't said what they would do with the
11-acre site. However, the initiative provides for the
reinstatement of a master plan for the landfill site
into a master-planned residential and commercial
In a separate development,
Carson has been sued by Rand Resources, a real estate
development company, over alleged breach of contract
related to building on the landfill. Richard Rand, head
of Rand Resources and Carson El Camino, said in the
complaint that he had an exclusive negotiating agreement
with Carson to bring one or more NFL teams to the city.
Among Rand’s allegations was
that in the summer of 2013, city officials “spoke with
representatives of NFL teams, including the San Diego
Chargers, about relocating to Carson.” The lawsuit was
filed Feb. 20 but only came to light in the last few
If this is true, such
discussions occurred a year before the Chargers have
indicated they began considering a Carson deal.
Whatever the nature of those
discussions, the Chargers did not go public with their
alternate plans until January, in response to another
stadium plan unveiled for the former Hollywood Park
racetrack in nearby Inglewood by St. Louis Rams owner
Demolition has begun on the
racetrack grandstand in preparation for a $1.8 billion
stadium, although no team has signed up to use that
facility if it is built.
Chargers have leg up in stadium talks
San Diego’s efforts to forge a stadium
deal will be similar to walking a tightrope
Union-Tribune San Diego,
May 30, 2015
Diego — San Diego’s efforts to forge a stadium
deal with the Chargers will be similar to walking a
tightrope, some of the nation’s leading negotiation
experts said last week.
They said San Diego faces a
steep challenge when negotiations begin Tuesday because
the city lacks leverage, faces many unknowns and will be
constrained by the need for a public vote on any deal.
The Chargers have more leverage
because they could potentially move to Los Angeles, but
the city’s bargaining team can’t make the deal too sweet
or it will be rejected at the polls.
“It’s an extremely precarious position that we would
call a ‘two-level’ game,” said Robert Bordone, director
of Harvard University’s Negotiation and Mediation
Clinic. “The city will be dealing with two big
negotiations, one across the table with the team and
another with the constituency they represent, and that’s
much more challenging.”
Robert Tobias, who teaches
conflict resolution at American University, said that
challenge is compounded by the many unknowns faced by
the city. Those include how open the Chargers are to
staying in San Diego, how willing the NFL is to let them
leave, and how much public money voters would approve.
“I wouldn’t want to be
representing the city in this — it’s going to be very
hard,” Tobias said. “You have to figure out what deal
the Chargers can get in L.A. and decide if you want to
beat that, while keeping in mind the voters need to
Seth Freeman, a professor of
negotiation and conflict management at New York
University and Columbia University, said the city is
facing a difficulty factor of about 7 on a scale of 1 to
“A 1 would be negotiating a
salary increase, which is pretty cut and dried and
doesn’t need approval from voters,” he said. “And let’s
call the Northern Ireland peace accords a 10, because
you had eight different parties involved after 30 years
of bitterness and violence. So this is either a 6 or
probably a 7.”
Freeman said leverage would
likely be the primary hurdle.
“The Chargers have a number of
possible alternatives to making an agreement,” said
Freeman, referring to proposed stadiums already approved
by city leaders in the Los Angeles suburbs of Carson and
Inglewood. “When you have a stronger best alternative —
and the city has essentially no alternative — you have
Bordone said that dynamic could
“When there are big power
differentials, the parties are less likely to find
mutually beneficial outcomes even though those outcomes
are out there,” he said. “One side isn’t particularly
incentivized to look for them and the other side is in
Bordone, however, said the
Chargers might not use that leverage if they truly want
to stay in San Diego.
“The really skillful
negotiators are aware of leverage but don’t focus their
energy there,” he said. “The real challenge here is
getting them to put aside who needs who more, and focus
instead on the long history of the team being in San
Diego and the value that creates for the city, team and
And there’s some uncertainty
about how much leverage L.A. represents for the
Chargers, because neither of the two stadium deals there
have been finalized and NFL owners haven’t approved a
Other potential pitfalls for
the city are time pressure and something called “deal
euphoria,” Freeman said.
The NFL has told San Diego to
accelerate its stadium efforts or face losing the
Chargers, and that can be dangerous, Freeman said.
“Time pressure can be a
double-edged sword,” he said. “It concentrates the mind
wonderfully, but the parties can fall off the edge and
make mistakes if they’re not careful.”
The strong desire for a deal
could also be a problem, Freeman said.
“There’s a tendency for
negotiations to get into something I call ‘deal
euphoria,’ which is the belief that a deal, no matter
what the terms, is good,” he said. “It can make you lose
sight of some of the traps and dangers that can
sometimes be ruinous.”
William Ury, co-author of the
influential negotiating book “Getting to Yes,” agreed
that the city is in a tough spot.
“If you are the city you ought
to really think this through strategically because the
less power you have the more strategic you need to be,”
But Ury also said he doesn’t
see the negotiations as that unusual despite the team’s
greater leverage and the public vote placing the team in
“It’s not that unusual to
negotiate a deal that requires a subsequent approval,”
said Ury, noting that labor deals must be submitted to
members of a union for ratification after they’re
negotiated. “In any kind of deal like that, you have to
think about another constituency with clear
He said the negotiations could
still be characterized as between two parties, not
“The city and its negotiators
could be seen as agents and the voters and the Chargers
would be the two principals in the deal,” Ury said. “The
ultimate decision makers are the people.”
The Chargers leverage is also
not that unusual, at least when it comes to stadium
deals, said Christopher Melvin, a member of the city’s
negotiating team focused on the legal aspects of the
Every stadium negotiation
includes at least the implied threat of a relocation if
a viable deal can’t be reached, said Melvin, managing
director of public finance at New York City’s
Nixon-Peabody law firm.
“This has come up numerous
times,” he said. “Not as specific as this, but it has
come up numerous times.”
Melvin and other members of the
negotiating team, which is being jointly funded by the
city and the county, expressed optimism last week that
they’re in good position to succeed despite the somewhat
Melvin and the city’s point man
on finance, Citigroup’s Bill Corrado, said a key
positive is the financing plan released May 18 by Mayor
Kevin Faulconer’s stadium task force, which means the
they won’t have to start from scratch.
That plan will set the
parameters for the talks, they said, noting that it
includes $1.4 billion in funding suggestions — nearly
$300 million more than the $1.1 billion estimated cost
of the stadium.
A May 22 U-T/10News poll
conducted by SurveyUSA shows 39 percent of respondents
opposed the financing plan while 36 percent supported
Melvin and Corrado have crafted
multiple stadium deals across the country working on
both sides of the table — for government agencies and
That considerable experience is
in stark contrast to several of the city’s recent
negotiations with the Chargers, including the infamous
“ticket guarantee” deal that cost taxpayers millions,
said City Attorney Jan Goldsmith.
“I want to emphasize we put
together on our team real experience with NFL stadiums,”
Goldsmith said last week.
“The city hasn’t had this type
of expertise involved, and as a result I think over the
years there have been mistakes.”
Such comprehensive experience
also makes the city’s negotiating team ready for the
nuts and bolts of the process, members said.
The Chargers have declined to
discuss what experts they’ll have at the negotiations,
or the talks in general. So far only owner Dean Spanos
and special counsel Mark Fabiani have been confirmed as
attending Tuesday’s session.
Melvin said he wasn’t sure how
the Chargers will want to proceed, but that he strongly
prefers face-to-face talks instead of conference calls,
Skype or sending emails.
Melvin said he’s also not sure
how intense the bargaining will be, but that he’s ready
for anything. “I’ve been in negotiations that have gone
through the night in a few instances,” he said.
Melvin said he was unsure
exactly what kind of direction Faulconer and county
officials would give the negotiating team, including
when and how they would tell city negotiators the
absolute most amount of public contributions they’d be
“I can’t really tell you
because I’m not sure how things will evolve,” he said.
Freeman, the NYU professor,
said a positive for the city is that it’s clear they
have hired some of the very best negotiators available.
“It looks like they are in good
hands with experienced and capable people, so everything
I’m saying is with a sense of humility,” Freeman said.
Stadium quest not over, just starting
NFL says Chargers have obligation to
negotiate in good faith
Union-Tribune San Diego,
May 29, 2015
There is hardly a speck of evidence
that points toward the Chargers ultimately staying in
In neither their public nor
private utterings has anyone from the NFL offered any
real hope. At worst, their words have been dire warnings
of imminent departure. At best, the Chargers and league
They certainly – and
understandably – are playing two angles.
Heck, after notifying the city
and county on Tuesday they would sit down with them next
week to engage in talks on the process of getting a new
stadium built in San Diego, Chargers special counsel
Mark Fabiani walked into a meeting with Carmen Policy,
the man the team has hired to get it a stadium in Los
Still, the Chargers have an
Amid the vague explanations and
veiled threats, the NFL has said time and again that the
best thing for all is that a team does not move. And no
team, the league’s relocation and retention maven said
recently, has satisfied the threshold to qualify them to
“Satisfaction of the relocation
guidelines can only be determined when somebody has
applied,” Eric Grubman said. “We have not lined up all
the different areas where a club and market would be
measured and been able to come to any conclusion. And we
wouldn’t do that in some artificial setting, because a
major part of that is: what is the home market
We’re about to find out.
On the surface at least,
Grubman is saying we have a chance.
According to the NFL, it’s not
over until it’s over.
That’s good. Because it’s
really just beginning in San Diego.
After more than a dozen years
of mostly inertia with the occasional fit and start and
then a few months of hyperactivity, after more than a
little cursing and biting, real live talks between
people with the knowledge and power to accomplish
something are set to commence.
And the Chargers have to try to
the end in order to say they are at their end in San
In theory, anyway.
All the NFL bylaws say is that
a team must have “diligently engaged in good faith
efforts” to “obtain and to maintain suitable stadium
facilities in their home territories” in order to
qualify for relocation. Numerous league owners – the
ones who will determine who/when/if any franchise moves
to Los Angeles – have made it clear they feel the
Chargers have tried really hard for too long to find a
stadium solution in San Diego.
The Chargers could walk in to
Tuesday’s meeting with the city and county folks and
say, “OK, we want to work with you, but ...” and go on
to enumerate any number of things. They could insist
there has been too much time wasted to leave any
reasonable chance of a stadium solution here prior to an
expected January deadline to file for relocation. Dean
Spanos could deem unreasonable everything the city and
county has to offer.
And all of us could scream and
kick and be of the opinion that we’d been played. It
wouldn’t matter. The NFL can justify whatever it wants
and make happen whatever it wants.
Now, that doesn’t mean we
shouldn’t scream and kick if anything like that happens.
In fact, be assured city and county officials will
scream and kick very publicly if they believe the
Chargers do not negotiate in good faith in the coming
weeks and months.
After the initial exchange of
mud, this has all been very civil, because that is best
for getting business done. Things will get ugly if it
looks like there is no longer any business to do.
It better get ugly at that
Just because the NFL’s
interpretation of what is “diligent” and “in good faith”
is all that matters doesn’t mean we should give up or
make it easy on them to do so.
Chargers Get Bolt of Inspiration
The design is inspired by the
Chargers' iconic lightning-bolt branding
By Gene Cubbison, Sports
Analyst, NBC News, San Diego, March 8, 2011
Nobody's "shown them the money" yet. But the
Chargers have just been shown a radical new way of
planning their proposed downtown stadium.
This novel approach came to the Chargers
unsolicited, no money asked.
It's a labor of civic love on the part of a
three-member, local design team that wants to keep
the Bolts local and put a bold, classy stamp on an
unfinished side of East Village.
"There's about 12 acres of 'public experience'
around the site, and that actually connects to the
existing buildings," says Gaslamp Quarter architect
Paul De Bartolo. "It's a stadium that's embracing
its city around it."
And it's an approach its creators hope will be
embraced in some form by the Chargers, the city and
the constituents of both.
Australian-born De Bartolo and his fellow Aussie
business partner Ivan Rimanic began collaborating on
it late last year with San Diego landscape architect
They finally presented it to the Bolts' brass last
week, and posted the schematic renderings on their
Their civic message, in part: "The Gaslamp has
really transformed with Petco Park, but it's missing
something vital, in our opinion," said McCullough.
"And if something doesn't happen, like what we're
proposing, then it's probably going to remain
parking lots and train tracks into eternity."
The stadium itself would be shaped like a volcanic
dome -- design inspired by the Chargers' iconic
"By taking the Chargers logo and mirroring it, you
do create a circular coliseum setup for a stadium,
and by extruding the form, you start to generate the
sides of the stadium, and how it can work in these
different wings," explained De Bartolo.
Meantime, the overall site concept -- featuring a
vast stretch of green open space with an iconic
structure, and elevated trolley tracks -- is
erupting in a lot of imaginations as it goes viral
"It was extremely important for us to really explore
the linkages into the city for this site," De
While this team of dreamers has no illusions about
the difficulties of turning the concept into a
reality, they want to jump-start the brainstorming
process in hopes that the project makes it farther
down the road.
"We feel that we're so close in San Diego to having
a city that's comparable to some of the greatest
cities in the world. And it's one area that I think
we could have this," De Bartolo said.
Chargers special counsel Mark Fabiani has forwarded
the design package to the team's architects; so far,
The principal partner and namesake of London Group
Realty Advisers said the new proposal helps focus
discussion on enhancing the proposed stadium's
visual appeal and connection to its surroundings.
"This throws down the gauntlet," says Gary London,
who's worked with the Chargers. "Unless that
aspect of the project is really addressed, (the
stadium) probably doesn't get very far."
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