Chargers: We need new stadium in preparation for L.A. team draining our coffers

San Diego Chargers owner Alex Spanos wants a new stadium — that’s not remotely news — and with a new mayor in town, they’re gearing up for another push for public subsidies — that’s not news either. What is news is that Chargers stadium czar Mark Fabiani has come up with a brand-new argument for why San Diego should hurry up and build a stadium, according to ESPN:

Mark Fabiani, special counsel to Chargers president Dean Spanos, said the organization would be devastated by a team outside of California relocating to Los Angeles…

“We have always kept our focus in San Diego to try and get something done here,” Fabiani said. “But at the same time, we have to be cognizant of the fact that if three-quarters of the owners were to allow a team to move to Los Angeles, it would devastate us economically.

“It would be catastrophic for the team financially if the league were to allow another team to go into the Los Angeles market and wipe out 30 percent of our premium sales.”

Let’s follow the bouncing logic here: The Chargers are dependent on the L.A. market for 30% of their premium sales, so the NFL returning to L.A. would be devastating. So if the Chargers don’t get their own stadium … what does that have to do with the NFL returning to L.A.? The only way a Chargers stadium would play into it would be that it would prevent the Chargers from threatening to move to L.A., but “If we move to L.A. we’ll cut into our ticket sales in San Diego” doesn’t make a lick of sense.

The only thing I can think of is that Fabiani is trying to imply that a new stadium would leave the Chargers rolling in so much dough that they could take the hit of an L.A. team without blinking, though then you have to wonder why they need to ask for free development rights to 266 acres of city property as a requirement of the deal. Either that, or he just saw that St. Louis Rams owner Stan Kroenke bought some land in L.A. and thought, “Gotta find a way to use this as leverage without actually making a threat to move the team, because people won’t like that.” Let’s go with one of those for now — I have an email in to Fabiani, so will update once it’s light out on the West Coast.

UPDATE: And Fabiani has replied! “The information I provided was in response to a reporter’s question about the location of our premium customer base. There was nothing more to it than that.”

8 comments on “Chargers: We need new stadium in preparation for L.A. team draining our coffers

  1. I think his logic goes like this:

    1) We can hold off the NFL from moving to LA until after our ballot measure in 2015. If you don’t pass it, some team is going to move to LA. Since we can’t survive in SD with a separate team in LA, we are going to have to be the team to move there if the ballot measure fails. If the measure passes, then we’ll be “stuck” in SD on our new lease.

    2) First salvo in trying to get Peter Angelos-style indemnification from a relocation to the team’s secondary market. Chargers can’t get ownership in a local TV network, but they might try to get a cut of sponsorship revenue or suite sales that come from Orange County.

  2. So, “Lock us in to San Diego before we realize that we’d be better off grabbing the L.A. market oops did we just say that out loud?”

  3. @Ben Miller

    That could work although Angelos was battling with Washington DC which is part of the same metro area as Baltimore as it’s just 40 miles away. Los Angeles is 120 miles from San Diego and considered a completely different metro area so he may not be able to get away with what Angelos did.

  4. Neil,

    Pretty much.


    The NFL considers LA a secondary market for SD. I disagree with it, but it does have parallels to the Angelos situation.

  5. Given Mr. Fabiani’s response (30% of the Chargers premium fanbase is in LA), I have to ask why they haven’t exercised their annual option to abandon San Diego.

    If 30% of your highest spending customers are willing to drive from LA (I would guess mostly from OC/South LA but who knows) to an old stadium in San Diego, surely indemnification or territorial rights should be very much secondary to actually moving there.

    Of course, they’d have to pay the other owners to get there… and likely sell part of their franchise to AEG (assuming Roski’s plan is pining for the fjords still).

    Ben, do you have a source for the “NFL considers LA a secondary market for the Chargers” comment? I’ve never heard it before, just wondering where or when the league made that acknowledgement. If true, I have to wonder how the Raiders and 9ers feel about it… or the Cardinals for that matter.

  6. @ Neil This is all a scam. He knows a public vote will fail and it’s even more ridiculous that they are still talking about the downtown site no one wants and raising money by selling land (qualcomm stadium) that isn’t owned or controlled by the city.

    The Chargers need/want a NO vote on a new stadium to move to LA. They’ve done everything possible over the last 20 years to avoid a vote on stadium funds. Fabiani has repeatedly stated that a public vote will fail citing the poll with 70% against stadium funding. They wanted to add a new stadium to the convention expansion precisely to avoid a public vote. Now he wants a public vote? To Fail?

    Don’t you see why he now wants a vote? It’s a ticket out of town to a shared stadium in LA, the only reasonable way a stadium in LA can be financed. I guarantee Spanos and Kroenke are already negotiating a potential move to LA. The Chargers and Rams can both get failed ballot measures if they want. Fabiani’s plan is built to fail, don’t be surprised when Kroenke does the same in 2015.

  7. @John Bladen

    The Spanos family can’t afford to build a stadium on their own and their lease penalty goes down every year they stay until 2020.

    Chargers games blacked out in San Diego are blacked out in LA.

  8. @David
    I’m sorry but your argument is a little confusing. You say the Chargers want out of SD yet they continually opt to stay in town. The Chargers have done everything to get a motion to the ballot, not avoid it. If they didn’t want a vote why not just opt out of the lease? Proposing the convention center multi-complex facility was more of an option because there funding from redevelopment was cut off and a combined facility would accomplish both. If there really was this grand conspiracy to leave town they would have done it years ago. Why spend a decade and 10 million on a replacement stadium effort if you don’t want to be here?