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Chargers Free to Consider Relocating

It’s official. The San Diego Chargers are now free to find a new home anywhere in the country. But for now at least their search appears to be local. Full Focus reporter Amita Sharma has the story.

It’s official. The San Diego Chargers are now free to find a new home anywhere in the country. But for now at least their search appears to be local. Full Focus reporter Amita Sharma has the story. The agreement between San Diego and the Chargers clears the way for the team, as of yesterday, to start negotiating with other cities to relocate. 

Two local cities – Chula Vista and National City – have emerged as regional contenders for a possible stadium site for the team. But Chargers spokesman Mark Fabiani says the National City location poses challenges because the land is port-owned, jobs there need to be protected and the Chargers would have to spend up to $400 million in infrastructure improvements.

Fabiani: In Chula Vista, you’re just not dealing with that. You’re dealing with open land. You’re dealing with a city that is not going to be encumbered with port jobs that they’re trying to protect because that’s just not an issue there. That’s why people look at Chula Vista and say it’s a promising area and we look at it that way too.

Fabiani says the team is working on getting a billion dollar stadium built that is privately financed. If successful, it would be the first non-publicly financed project in NFL history. Fabiani says a future Chargers stadium will be in sharp contrast from Qualcomm. 

Fabiani: We’re looking to build something that is fan-friendly. It would be for football only, so it will be very different than Qualcomm where the fans are very far from the field where most of our luxury seating is in the end zones. Everything in the new stadium will be inside the goal lines. The fans will be very close to the field. It will be a smaller stadium, about 64,000 so it will be sold out every game. There will be expandability to Super Bowl size to 72,000.

With the Chargers in the Super Bowl playoffs, Fabiani says there’s heightened passion and excitement about the team. But he adds, that is unlikely to translate into taxpayer giveaways. Fabiani says community meeting after meeting has shown that voters don’t want public money spend on sports teams. Any stadium project proposal will have to be put to voters first. Fabiani says the goal is to have a plan on the ballot in November 2008. That means a deal has to be signed by next February, which makes 2007 a pivotal for the Chargers.

Fabiani: It is the year. This is a whole year in front of us. We’ve got two cities that want to work with us. We’ve got an ownership team -- the Spanos Family -- committed to working hard. If we can’t get something done this year, we may not be able to get anything done, so this is a critical year. No doubt about it.

If Chula Vista and National City don’t work out as possible homes for the Chargers, the team does have other suitors, including San Antonio and Las Vegas. Fabiani wouldn’t say when the team might look outside the county.