Oakland developer provides city with Raiders funding plan, but you aren’t allowed to see it yet

The Raiders-A’s land war in Oakland is really heating up now, with developer Floyd Kephart providing city officials with a financing plan for a new Raiders stadium (which he can’t tell you about, and the city won’t release yet). Since A’s owner Lew Wolff still insists that he wants the Raiders to vamoose so he can build a stadium and surrounding development on the Coliseum site (and MLB commissioner Rob Manfred backs him up, because that’s what he’s there to do), looks like there’s gonna be a gum fight.

Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf, meanwhile, only released an email statement that she is “analyzing the viability of the submission from Mr. Kephart,” and taking a “multipronged approach so we have as many options available as possible for stadium development without the use of City of Oakland general fund dollars.” Given that past Raiders plans have all involved the use of a heck of a lot of City of Oakland money, this doesn’t seem promising for Kephart’s plan, but we’ll know more when we know more.

Meanwhile, down in Carson, where a combined Raiders/San Diego Chargers stadium remains on the table — and which is currently embroiled in a crazy internecine government battle involving sexual assault charges against the current mayor and the city clerk calling a former mayor a “witch,” all of which is very entertaining but not really all that relevant to the stadium issues at hand — there was a public town hall meeting last night with Chargers and Raiders officials, and the Raiders officials failed to show up. Anybody who has a clue what Raiders owner Mark Davis is thinking in all this, please raise your hand, okay?

Talks over Chargers stadium now just involve both sides insulting each other

If San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer thought that proposing a Chargers stadium plan that nobody was really happy with and then calling for a public vote in order to avoid a more difficult public vote would at least be a productive starting point for negotiations — hey, it worked in Milwaukee, sort of — it’s not really working out that way at all. We already covered the Chargers owners’ statement on Tuesday that this voting thing doesn’t really work for them; since then, things have only descended further into everybody just yelling at each other:

  • Faulconer sniped on Twitter that “we can get this done if we have a willing partner,” while one of his political consultants snarked, “For the first time in seven months of incredibly hard work from the City, County, and the CSAG, the Chargers did something honest – walk away from the table.”
  • Faulconer said he’d next go straight to the NFL to convince the league that a public vote could be held without worries about holdups from environmental lawsuits, with city councilmember Scott Sherman adding approvingly, “They wouldn’t have a choice but to come back to the table.”
  • Chargers stadium czar Mark Fabiani told a KPBS interviewer that “we’re out of time for 2015″ and the only way the Chargers stay put in San Diego is if the NFL rejects their move to L.A. (Asked why the team had agreed to negotiate at all if it was too late, Fabiani replied, “We were hoping the city would come up with something we hadn’t thought of.”)
  • Fabiani told a 10News interviewer via email that negotiating with the city had been “a waste of five months,” that the L.A. market is “far more lucrative,” and that “we haven’t seen any evidence so far in our dealings with Mayor Faulconer that he is capable of managing such a complex project,” calling his approach “remarkably unsophisticated.”

Yep, that’s a lot of yelling. What it all seems to add up to is two sides each trying to make their pitch to the NFL: Fabiani is trying to tell the Chargers’ fellow owners, “Hey, we tried, the mayor’s a buffoon, we have no choice but to go to L.A.,” while Faulconer is sending the message, “We have a good offer on the table, kick these nuts in the butt and tell them to negotiate.” This is looking more and more like the endgame will be an NFL meeting in which the Chargers, St. Louis Rams, and Oakland Raiders owners all try to be the first to win approval to go to L.A.; I’m still skeptical that any of them should really want to, but NFL owners are as susceptible as the next person to wanting things that they’re told they can’t have. Maybe more so.

Chargers to San Diego: No votes, please, just hand over stadium cash

If San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer was really proposing a public vote on a Chargers stadium deal because he thought it would be a way to make everyone happy, well, that sure didn’t work. The Chargers owners issued a statement yesterday saying they have no interest in any of this whole “people voting” nonsense:

he Chargers have concluded that it is not possible to place a ballot measure before voters in December 2015 in a legally defensible manner given the requirements of the State’s election law and the California Environmental Quality Act. The various options that we have explored with the City’s experts all lead to the same result: Significant time-consuming litigation founded on multiple legal challenges, followed by a high risk of eventual defeat in the courts. The Chargers are committed to maintaining an open line of communication with the City’s negotiators as we move through the summer and leading up to the special August meeting of National Football League owners. That meeting may provide important information about what is likely to occur during the remainder of 2015.”

In English, that translates as: Give us a plan that nobody can sue over, and give it to us by August, capisce? Also, possibly, We can’t sit around waiting for you when we have to beat Stan Kroenke to the treasure! Clearly none of us covering the NFL L.A. stadium move threat mess is going to get much of a summer vacation this year.

USA Today report on NFL LA move may violate own unnamed source rule, says source close to journalism

Stop the presses! USA Today reported on Friday that it’s heard the NFL is exploring where a team could play temporarily in Los Angeles, maybe, while a new stadium was possibly being built, if that happens, possibly, says some guy:

The league plans to soon begin talks with existing stadiums in the Los Angeles area in an effort to provide temporary housing for any team or teams that might relocate there, if any, a person familiar with the situation told USA TODAY Sports. The person asked not to be identified because of the sensitivity of the situation.

This is totally expected, since the league needs to do due diligence if it’s going to consider approving a move of either the St. Louis Rams, San Diego Chargers, and/or Oakland Raiders. And, for that matter, it’s also totally expected that the NFL might want to leak this to the papers for their own purposes, as a way of turning up the heat on St. Louis, San Diego, and Oakland to get new stadium plans in gear already, instead of mucking around with whether it would be legal or whether it makes any sense. You might even wonder if USA Today is being used by the league here for PR purposes, with the whole “asked not to be identified” thing serving as cover so the NFL doesn’t have to answer any uncomfortable questions.

In fact, let’s see what USA Today’s editorial ethics policy has to say about basing stories on the testimony of unnamed sources:

The use of unnamed sources erodes our credibility and should be avoided.

Okay, that’s not a good start. But what about when, you know, you really really don’t want to avoid it?

The identity of an unnamed source must be shared with and approved by a managing editor prior to publication. The managing editor must be confident that the information presented to the reader is accurate, not just that someone said it. This usually will require confirmation from a second source or from documents…

Anonymous sources must be cited only as a last resort. This applies not just to direct quotes but to the use of anonymous sources generally. Before accepting their use for publication, an editor must be confident that there is no better way to present the information and that the information is important enough to justify the broader cost in reader trust. This is not to be taken lightly…

Unnamed sources should be described as precisely as possible. Additionally, reporters and editors should explain why the source could not be identified and if possible, add any information that establishes the credibility of a source on the subject matter in question.

Obviously, we as readers have no way of knowing whether USA Today’s managing editor signed off on this, whether a “second source or documents” was provided, and whether the information was “important enough to justify the broader cost in reader trust.” Still, at best, this seems like bending the “Don’t use unnamed sources unless absolutely necessary” rule for the sake of a juicy headline, even if it’s not a story that necessarily tells anyone much of anything. Which goes on all the time, of course, but that doesn’t make it any better a way of running a journalistic railroad.


San Diego mayor doesn’t know what Chargers stadium plan will be, calls for vote on it anyway

San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer has set December 15 as the date for a public vote on a Chargers stadium deal — not that he and the Chargers owners have agreed on one, but once they do, there’s going to be a public vote on December 15, by gum!

This may sound a little weird — not only because nobody knows yet what if anything there will be to vote on, but because what elected official calls for a referendum when it’s not required? — but it’s not so much when you consider all the factors. First off, this would be “a majority vote of the people,” in Faulconer’s words — i.e., not the vote requiring a two-thirds majority that the Chargers are afraid of, and which would be needed to pass a tax increase for stadium funding. Holding a vote this year would head off a later referendum challenge, thanks to some wrinkle of California election law that I’m not even going to pretend to understand. And finally, by announcing it now, the mayor both sends a message to the NFL that he’s serious (whatever that means) about building a stadium for the Chargers, and sends a message to voters that he’s not going to move ahead with anything that he can’t get 50.1% of them to agree on.

Chargers owners the Spanos family, meanwhile, seem less than excited about all this: They’ve expressed skepticism that a vote can be pulled off this year, that a stadium deal based on the mayor’s task force’s plans, and really on just about everything about a new stadium in San Diego — all of which is only to be expected, as expressing enthusiasm about an offer is no way to get the party across the table to up their ante. So this could all be part of negotiating tactics, or it could be Faulconer gearing up to say, “Hey, I tried.” Or both! It could always be both.

Extorting four cities for new NFL stadiums at once is hard, guys!

The Los Angeles Daily News’s Vincent Bonsignore has a good article up today detailing the careful balancing act the NFL needs to play in deciding which, if any, teams end up moving to Los Angeles:

Short of San Diego or Oakland stepping forward with satisfactory stadium plans for the Chargers and Raiders, which seems to be a long shot at this point, or [Rams owner Stan] Kroenke surprising everyone by accepting the stadium proposal Missouri leaders are hammering away at, the NFL is headed toward a potentially ugly fight in which owners will be asked to take sides with or against one other.

Worse, if it ultimately comes down to a vote, the team or teams losing out will report back to their local markets with tails decidedly between their legs and left vulnerable while trying to revive new stadium talks.

And that, in a nutshell, is why you’re hearing a lot of rumor and innuendo right now, and no real action, especially on the part of the NFL: Any step forward by one team’s plans would mean a step backward for someone else’s — and the last thing the NFL or its owners wants is for anyone to lose leverage in negotiating a stadium deal. So the endgame here is going to have to be carefully calibrated to ensure that everyone gets a deal they can live with before anything gets finalized. (Bonsignore’s solution — let the St. Louis Rams and San Diego Chargers move to a shared stadium in Inglewood, and take $400 million from their relocation fees and stadium revenues and give it to the Raiders for a new stadium in Oakland — almost certainly won’t work, since it’s unlikely there’s an extra $400 million in profit just sitting around in any Inglewood finance plan, but hey, an article can’t have everything.)

Instead, let’s watch Hollywood Park racetrack get blowed up to make way for either Kroenke’s Inglewood stadium if it ends up getting built, or for something else if it doesn’t. Momentum!

Carson officials on Chargers/Raiders stadium talks: Sorry, we never wrote anything down

Wondering how exactly the negotiations between the city of Carson and the owners of the San Diego Chargers and Oakland Raiders went before those teams’ surprise announcement of stadium plans in February on the heels of St. Louis Rams owner Stan Kroenke declaring his interest in a stadium in nearby Inglewood? So was the Voice of San Diego, so it asked Carson city officials, and this is what it was told:

What did those negotiations consist of? Not a single email, text message, memo or anything on paper at all between the teams or the NFL and any elected official in Carson, according to city officials…

Carson is not saying that written communications between its elected officials and the Chargers, Raiders and league should be shielded from public view because they are part of real estate negotiations or other legitimate exemptions from the state’s records laws. No, they’re saying that there are literally zero electronic or paper communications between Carson’s elected officials and the NFL.

The VoSD is now suing to force the release of documents that it’s sure must exist. The entertainment value here is potentially awesome, so stay tuned.

SD mayor and Chargers to start talks over stadium plan, Union-Tribune calls this “victory”

Now that his stadium task force has issued a plan — a plan that nobody really likes, mind you, but a plan nonetheless — San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer plans to talk to Chargers execs about it. Or, as the San Diego Union-Tribune’s Tom Krasovic puts it:

The start of negotiations in San Diego is a victory for both sides.

Start with Faulconer. San Diego mayors before him never got this far on plans for a new football stadium.

As for both the NFL and the Chargers, negotiations with San Diego could strengthen their hand in Carson and opposite Rams owner Stan Kroenke should he decide to go rogue, a la former Raiders owner Al Davis, and move his team to Inglewood without NFL approval.

Soooooo, it’s a victory for the city when your mayor is proposing one of the largest public NFL stadium subsidies in history with no certainty that it’ll even be accepted, and it’s a victory for the Chargers because they can use it to leverage a better deal in Carson, or something? This must be one of those other kinds of victory.

In related news, Mick Jagger thinks the Chargers should stay in San Diego, marking a victory for the rock legend, who has never before managed to get involved in football stadium negotiations.

Are NFL stadium subsidies really falling? Here’s a chart that won’t help answer that at all!

The San Diego Union-Tribune (officially re-rebranded as of last week, though its domain name hasn’t caught up yet) has been running lots of lots of news articles about the Chargers stadium plan, too many to take in all at once. Let’s find a promising one: How about Saturday’s “Why the Chargers need cash to stay,” which promises to explain the reasons that San Diego citizens should be putting up between $650 million and $ 1.15 billion when the team is willing to build a stadium in Carson for far less in subsidies? Let’s begin:

When it comes to financing new NFL stadiums, think of the Great Recession as halftime in a one-sided football game poised for a big shift in momentum.

I’m sorry, my brain just broke. Enough with the forced sports metaphors, people!

The upshot of the article appears to be that until 2006, the public spent a lot of money on NFL stadiums, but “since 2010, when the New York Jets and Giants built their own new stadium, the trend has clearly moved toward more hefty private contributions.”

Really? The chart that the U-T includes with its article indeed shows several stadiums with larger private costs in recent years (Dallas, New York, Atlanta, Miami, Santa Clara):

stadiumpriceonline-01_t837But that’s a bit misleading: Atlanta’s public cost is listed at $200 million rather than the $554 million that is more accurate, and Dolphins owner Stephen Ross is getting around $100 million in public subsidies toward his own stadium work, which isn’t even a new stadium at all, just a renovation. Take that away and the main trend is that NFL stadiums have gotten way more expensive, and team owners have largely covered that additional cost, while public expenses have remained pretty consistent.

And why have costs soared? The U-T notes that “owners now want the biggest and best so they can command even higher premiums from well-heeled fans and corporations,” while economist Victor Matheson credits this to “stadium envy.” It’s unclear whether this means owners are earning their money back on more expensive stadiums (in bigger markets, at least) or just trying to keep up with the Joneses, but that’s okay, because it genuinely is unclear which is the case, especially for stadiums that haven’t opened yet.

The U-T’s conclusion, meanwhile, is that cities aren’t throwing money at NFL teams anymore, but that’s because only big cities are building NFL stadiums, so San Diego still needs to throw money at its team. That’s pretty much wrong on all counts (Atlanta and Minneapolis are big cities?), but it’s right enough in a couple of cases (New York, Santa Clara) that it’s good enough for newspaper work, and ducks asking questions about whether the proposed public expense for a Chargers stadium is either worth it or necessary to keep the team in town, or just a number that a bunch of local CEOs picked out of a hat in hopes it would make the team owners happy. But there are lots more U-T articles out there to be written — why look, here’s one on how a public vote is needed to prevent the “threat” of a referendum drive that could “stall” the stadium campaign — so I’m sure they’ll get around to the actual finances of the financial plan eventually.

Chargers owner on $650m+ stadium subsidy offer: “Haven’t read it yet, is it good?”

If you’ve read the San Diego Citizens’ Stadium Advisory Group’s proposal for a new Chargers stadium, that puts you one up on Chargers owner Dean Spanos, who apparently hasn’t had time to actually read about how much money the task force is offering to throw at him, because it’s 42 pages and he’s busy, guys:

“I have not seen the actual report,” Chargers chairman Dean Spanos said Wednesday before departing the league’s two-day owners meetings here. “I’m going back today, and I’m going to look at it this afternoon.”…

“I think they submitted some sort of framework of a potential financing plan,” Spanos said of CSAG. “That’s what we’re going to take a look at this week … I’ve always said, and I maintain the fact we want to stay in San Diego. We’re committed to keep trying to see if there is a viable solution. It has now come down to a financing plan, so I am anxious to see what the city puts forth.”

Now, there are several possible explanations here. One is that Spanos was just so busy with the NFL owners meetings (new extra point rules, everybody!) that he didn’t have time to read anything. Another is that he’s read it and still has too many questions — about all those details “to be negotiated,” perhaps — that he doesn’t want to comment just yet. Or he’s waiting to talk to financial people who can tell him exactly how much money he’d get out of the deal. Or he’s sick of this whole thing and wants his sons to be the ones to answer questions from now on.

Whichever it is, it’s slightly weird for the owner of an NFL team isn’t responding to an offer of possibly close to a billion dollars in subsidies that he’s been waiting on for months. But not any weirder than an NFL owner not picking up the phone to listen to stadium subsidy offers. This whole L.A. move threat game is all a complex stew of gamesmanship and personal idiosyncrasies, so it’s probably best not to read too much into anything, at least not until Spanos has decided whether the in-flight movie is more interesting than the stadium proposal that could determine the fate of his team and his bank balance.