Do Chargers have secret deal with Goldman Sachs to build L.A. stadium? (SPOILER: no)

So on a podcast on Friday, a St. Louis radio reporter who covers the Blues said this about a San Diego Chargers stadium, for some reason:

“Spanos from the Chargers has a deal in place with Goldman-Sachs to build a new stadium and the NFL has asked him to hold off from accouncing those plans,” Strickland said, citing St. Louis officials.

Whoa, that’s news! Strickland also said he thought the stadium deal was in L.A., not San Diego, and you know what, let’s stop right there, because though the Strickland report was soon all over the news, immediately thereafter this was:

[Chargers general counsel Mark] Fabiani told 10News Friday night, “The story is untrue. Nothing to it, except that we have worked for years with Goldman Sachs. But the rest of the story is incorrect.”

Now, team execs can lie, of course, but usually they temper their words a bit more when they do so. And the idea that the Chargers have a secret stadium deal in place that has gone unnoticed by everyone except a St. Louis hockey reporter is … let’s just say I’ll believe it when I see it.

Meanwhile, back on planet Earth, U-T San Diego actually does some reporting today that could be construed as critical of the Chargers’ stadium plans, or at least skeptical that the team can get them funded: Fabiani has talked of raising hotel taxes to help pay for a stadium, but the hotel owners hate the idea, it would take a two-thirds vote to approve it, and the last time a referendum was attempted on hiking hotel taxes, it only got 41.6% of the vote. And that was to hike hotel taxes to fund police and firefighters, not a stadium. I guess it’s pretty hard to find a “cheerleader” spin on facts like that.

 

Chargers to SD mayor: We don’t want your stinking stadium if we have to work with your convention center guy

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.

SD mayor vows “good and fair deal” to subsidize Chargers stadium

San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer gave his State of the City speech yesterday, and make clear that he wants citizens to know that he’s committed to throwing money at the Chargers for a new stadium, but not throw it, you know, too wildly:

Delivering his first “State of the City” address, Faulconer said he would assemble a group of civic leaders to recommend a location either in Mission Valley or downtown and a financing plan that is “a good and fair deal for San Diego taxpayers.” He said he would then seek voter approval.

“At no point in San Diego’s history has the possibility of the Chargers moving to Los Angeles been more real,” he said. “When the next season ends, we’ll be talking about the proposal to keep them here where they belong.”…

“Both the stadium and convention center are vital to San Diego,” he said. “Together or separately, we can get both done.”

You know what they say about negotiations: The most important thing is to say up front that it’s “vital” for you to see the project happen, because then you eliminate any leverage to walk away if the price tag gets too expensive. (Editor’s note: They don’t actually say that.)

Nobody’s moving to L.A., so now can we talk about that Raiders lease extension?

This week in “Which NFL teams are moving to L.A. in 2015?” rumors, we have … nobody!

Per “sources,” yes, but Schefter is reporting it as fact, and the NFL isn’t denying it, so this certainly has the whiff at least of official leak. And the San Diego Chargers did already announce that they’re staying put for 2015, which they likely wouldn’t have done if there were any chance of teams going to L.A., and besides there’s just about zero chance of an L.A. stadium deal getting done in time for a relocation announcement by February. So, really, I’m confident we can stick a fork in this for now, and stop with all the rumor-mongering about who’s headed to—

Fox Sports 1 Insider Jay Glazer reports the NFL is waiting to get better offers for stadium sites around Los Angeles, with St. Louis Rams clear front-runner to come to city.

Yo! Jay! Stand down, already!

In related news, the Oakland Raiders are apparently set to announce a one-year extension of their lease at the Oakland Coliseum, which is a bit weird, as I’m pretty sure that the Coliseum Authority would have to sign off on that as well — and would be perfectly within their rights to tell Mark Davis to take his team and go play in the street if he doesn’t agree to a multiyear extension. This one is worth watching closely, or would be if everyone could stop playing “Who’s moving to the imaginary L.A. stadium first?”

Chargers staying in San Diego another year, Raiders still rumored to be moving everywhere and its sister

Today in people who used to be famous talking about where the Oakland Raiders might move, it’s former San Antonio mayor Henry Cisneros, who says that the team could be taking his city seriously as — hey, wait a minute! This is a repeat!

In newsier NFL maybe-relocation news, the San Diego Chargers owners have announced that they’re not opting out of their lease for 2015, which means they’re not moving to Los Angeles to play in a stadium that hasn’t even been planned yet, either. The Los Angeles Times’ Sam Farmer takes this as a sign that no NFL teams are moving to L.A. next year, on the theory that if somebody were, then the Chargers would want in too to avoid being left stuck in San Diego with an old stadium and two other teams on their doorstep. I’d stick with the theory that nobody’s moving to L.A. because there’s nowhere to play there that’s any better than teams’ old stadium back home, though.

Raiders, Chargers owners say words “Los Angeles,” newspaper writers can mail it in from there

OMG OMG OMG Mark Davis said something nice about Los Angeles! He’s totally moving the Oakland Raiders there!

“Los Angeles is a great option.” Davis said.

An option for the Raiders?

“Absolutely,” he said.

And just to be clear, he added: “Sure. We loved it when we were down here.”

And San Diego Chargers owner Dean Spanos said something nice about it, too, so the Chargers are totally moving there too!

“We’re looking into all our possibilities, all our options,” Spanos said.

Does that mean potentially re-locating to Los Angeles?

“I’m just keeping all my options open,” Spanos said.

And Jacksonville Jaguars owner Shad Khan hasn’t said anything about Los Angeles, so they’re totally not moving there!

Of course, cynical types might point out that sports team owners say these kinds of things all the time, whether they’re actually interested in moving or just trying to put pressure on hometown elected officials to get cracking on stadium subsidies. (Or both. There’s nothing saying owners can’t work both sides of this street.) But we don’t allow cynical types around here, so let’s welcome your 2015 Los Angeles Raiders and Los Angeles Chargers! They’ll totally find a vacant lot to play in by then.

Someone in NFL office says league plans return to L.A. soon, maybe, ARE YOU LISTENING OAKLAND AND SAN DIEGO?

Today (okay, actually Sunday night) in completely unsourced rumors/trial balloons being leaked by league-friendly sportswriters:

Per a league source, the current plan is that the NFL will send one or two teams back to Los Angeles within the next 12 to 24 months.

The timeline would include a team announcing its intention to move in the 2015 or 2016 offseason, with arrangements to play at the Rose Bowl or the L.A. Coliseum pending the construction of a new stadium.  Possible sites for a venue in L.A. include the AEG project at L.A. Live in downtown, the land purchased recently by Rams owner Stan Kroenke at Hollywood Park, Chavez Ravine, and a couple of locations that have not yet been publicly disclosed. Ed Roski’s shovel-ready site at City of Industry is not regarded as a viable destination.

Is Mike Florio’s report true? Who the hell knows! This is someone with the league saying the “plan” is to go back to L.A. soon — does this mean that it will only happen if a stadium deal is approved first, or that this is an attempt to shake loose a stadium deal, or even that this is an attempt to shake loose stadium deals in other cities? Florio specifically mentions the Oakland Raiders, St. Louis Rams, and San Diego Chargers as relocation targets, though it’s unclear whether he got this from his anonymous NFL source or if he’s just spitballing himself.

There’s even less detail here than in the last unsourced NFL-to-L.A. report, so probably best just to move along and forget Florio ever said anything. Except as an indication that the NFL really wants you to think of L.A. as a relocation threat for your team, if you needed reminding.

184 Chargers fans want a publicly funded stadium, TV station calls this “split” support

I have a busy day today (more on that … Thursday, looks like), so fortunately it was a slow news weekend around here. Though we did get an exceptionally stupid poll, courtesy of KGTV in San Diego:

The issue over how a new stadium for the San Diego Chargers would be funded continues to be divisive, according to a new KGTV poll released this week.

When asked if public money should be used to finance a new stadium, 36 percent responded yes, 47 percent said no and 17 percent were unsure.

That’s a bit worse than “divisive” — an 11-point deficit is “opposition” in most people’s book, even for polls with high margins of error. But more to the point, who was being polled, exactly?

The 15-question poll was conducted by SurveyUSA. 510 fans were polled for each question.

No indication how “fans” was defined (probably “people who answered ‘yes’ to ‘Are you a Chargers fan?’ on a robocall“), but still, if you take this poll seriously, the most reasonable takeaway would be: Even Chargers fans are mostly opposed to public money being used for a Chargers stadium. Still a stupid poll, then, but even stupider article reporting on it.

Chargers to ask for $650m-plus in city land rights to help fund new stadium

U-T San Diego has a smidge more information about that plan to put a San Diego Chargers stadium plan on the ballot in 2016: Team stadium czar Mark Fabiani says it will involve the city handing over development rights to Qualcomm Stadium, the team selling the rights to a developer for a whole bunch of money, then bundling a “portion” of the profits worth $650 million with $200 million in NFL money and $200 million out of the Chargers’ pocket to pay for a $1 billion stadium in downtown San Diego.

This is pretty much the same deal that Fabiani has been talking about for months now, and U-T San Diego, having abandoned any pretense at actual journalism, doesn’t bother to interview a single other person about it (except for one random “city resident” who doesn’t like the deal), so there’s a lot we still don’t know: Do the Chargers actually have a developer lined up who’d pay $650-million-plus for development rights for the Qualcomm site? Could they build downtown for $1 billion, including land costs? And if Qualcomm development rights are so lucrative, would the city be better off just developing the site themselves? (This might mean letting the team move if they have to clear the stadium space, but maybe the city could use some of the development riches to give fans gas vouchers or something to drive to L.A.)

The main takeaway here, such as it is, seems to be that if the Chargers can structure this deal to use only city land, not city tax money, it will only require a majority vote, not two-thirds.

Chargers ready to put stadium on ballot … in two and a half years

The San Diego Chargers ownership has been plotting a new stadium approximately forever, and now plans on waiting a bit longer still: Chargers stadium czar Mark Fabiani has said he hopes to put a new stadium on the county ballot in November 2016, in time for the next presidential election.

And how would that new stadium be paid for, exactly?

The Spanos family and investment partners would put up roughly $400 million and seek a $200 million loan from the NFL. The rub comes in how the remaining roughly $400 million would be financed.

That’s indeed a rub. As is the fact that the Chargers don’t know where they want to build a stadium yet. (Or as U-T San Diego puts it, “they are open to ideas.”) Maybe another two and a half years will give them a chance to throw some more funding ideas at the wall and see which ones stick — though at a certain point, given the success of their neighbors to the north, you have to wonder if they wouldn’t want to consider “build it our own damn selves” as a less time-consuming option.