San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer included in his State of the City speech last week a statement that a new Chargers stadium was “vital” and promised to have a proposal done by the end of the next football season — so, naturally enough, Chargers stadium czar Mark Fabiani responded by attacking Faulconer for “punting” on the stadium plan. Why on earth? Because Faulconer didn’t replace the head of his convention center expansion effort:
Fabiani said at the first meeting with Mayor Faulconer’s staff in March that the Chargers asked for Steve Cushman to not have any involvement in the process.
“Our view is that Cushman has been a consistent impediment to the Chargers getting a stadium deal done,” Fabiani said. “And I won’t bore you with all of the history, although I’m happy to go into it if you want. So that’s the one thing that we asked him not to do, and that’s exactly what he did. The mayor mentioned in his speech last night that Steve would continue to be involved in the convention center.”
Fabiani continued, in an “interview” on the Chargers’ own website:
If you were going to line up the people in San Diego who have done the most to block a new stadium over the years, there is no doubt that Steve Cushman would be near the head of that line. When the Chargers were exploring the Chula Vista bayfront as a stadium location, Cushman told the Chargers to stay away so that the Gaylord Project could move forward. Of course, under Cushman’s leadership, no such project was ever built. When the Chargers were exploring a joint-use stadium/convention center facility downtown, Cushman again told the Chargers to stay away because of the contiguous convention center expansion plan. Again, under Cushman’s leadership, the courts decisively invalidated the financing plan for the convention center project. And when some in the community wanted to explore Tenth Avenue Marine Terminal as a stadium location, Cushman pushed through a ban on everyone at the Port of San Diego from even so much as discussing the issue. The fact that Mayor Faulconer has now assigned Steve Cushman — the architect of so many of San Diego’s civic failures — to work on the stadium is discouraging.
KUSI has a bit more detail on the backstory here, which is that Cushman, a longtime member of the San Diego Convention Center board, is fixated on building a stadium directly adjacent to an expanded convention center, which the Chargers don’t want to be locked into.* (I’ll actually agree with that, as the utility of a football stadium as space for conventions is pretty darn near zero.) Still, this is a pretty historic bit of gift-horse-mouth-looking on the Chargers’ part to slam an open-ended new stadium offer by objecting to a guy who isn’t even likely to be on the mayor’s stadium task force. Though maybe this is a way of ensuring that he won’t be? Or that Fabiani doesn’t have to be seated with Cushman at any city functions? I think it’s a pretty good guess that that’s ensured now, anyway.
*UPDATE: Heywood Sanders points out that the KUSI article was a bit unclear on why Fabiani objected to Cushman: The convention center chief does want an adjacent expansion, but not specifically one that can double as a football stadium. Fabiani is trying to sell a stadium three blocks away as an expansion to the convention center, which is a pretty dumb rationale, for the reasons stated above. Sorry for any misconstruing.