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Politics

Longtime NFL Executive, County Chief Appointed to Chargers Stadium Task Force

San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer announces the members of his Citizens' Stadium Advisory Group in downtown San Diego, Jan. 30, 2015.
Nicholas McVicker
San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer announces the members of his Citizens' Stadium Advisory Group in downtown San Diego, Jan. 30, 2015.

A nine-member task force tasked with finding a location to build a new stadium for the Chargers, and coming up with a plan to pay for its construction, was publicly introduced Friday by San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer.

Additional Advisory Group Members

Doug Barnhart, whose construction firm works on numerous major commercial projects;

Rod Dammeyer, a private equity investor;

Adam Day, a California State University trustee and assistant tribal manager of the Sycuan reservation;

Aimee Fawcett, chief operating officer of the San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce;

Jason Hughes, president and CEO of the Hughes Marino commercial real estate firm; and

Mary Lydon, executive director of the Urban Land Institute-San Diego and Tijuana.

The civic, business and community leaders include former National Football League and Chargers executive Jim Steeg, former county Chief Administrative Officer and city Chief Operating Officer Walt Ekard, and San Diego Gas & Electric Chairman Jessie Knight.

At a Friday press conference, Faulconer touted Steeg's past work.

“He’s a former NFL executive who is credited with growing the Super Bowl from a championship game to a worldwide extravaganza," he said.

Steeg said the group will look at how other cities have updated their stadiums. He specifically listed Super Bowl hosts.

“We’ve received a core direction from the mayor to develop a stadium plan to present a good and fair deal to San Diego taxpayers," he said. "By the fall of this year, we will recommend a stadium location and a viable financing plan to achieve that goal."

Faulconer said will develop a "real, tangible plan for a new stadium" that can be put before voters in 2016.

"That's never been done before," Faulconer said. "Yes, we've had renderings. Yes, we've had ideas floated about how you can possibly, maybe, fund it, but those aren't plans. A plan is when somebody tells you this is where it's going to go, this is how we're going to build it, and most importantly, this is how it's going to be paid for."

The mayor said the financing plan will have to reflect a "fair, good deal" that will work for both the short and long term with no hidden surprises.

Faulconer first announced the formation of the task force at his "State of the City" address more than two weeks ago, and it was sharply denounced by the Chargers.

Mark Fabiani, the team's point-man in the stadium search, said at the time that another task force was unnecessary and that the team didn't want San Diego Convention Center Corp. Director Steve Cushman to be part of the group.

Cushman, who is leading the city's effort to expand the convention facility, is not a task force member. The Chargers contend he scuttled an earlier idea to put a stadium on Port of San Diego property.

Fabiani released a more conciliatory statement Friday upon the introduction of the task force members.

"The Chargers have been working on stadium solutions in San Diego for the last 13 years, and we have already committed to continuing that work for a 14th year in 2015," Fabiani said, via the Chargers website.

Qualcomm Stadium during a game that pitted the San Diego Chargers against the New York Jets, Oct. 5, 2014.
Associated Press
Qualcomm Stadium during a game that pitted the San Diego Chargers against the New York Jets, Oct. 5, 2014.

"We will be happy to share with the mayor's new task force the nine different stadium proposals the Chargers have made over the years, as well as the ideas produced by another city-appointed task force and by two separate outside experts hired by the city during this period," Fabiani said. "We will also be pleased to evaluate any other ideas generated by this latest task force."

Officials with the city and Chargers have met since the "State of the City" address and Fabiani's initial negative reaction, according to the mayor's office.

City Councilman Chris Cate, the former San Diego County Taxpayers Association vice president, said he was pleased with the mayor's picks for the group.

“Mayor Faulconer presented a diverse team of individuals with educational and financial knowledge which spans across the public and private sectors. I am optimistic that the nine-member task force will be vigilant toward taxpayers’ dollars when providing the thorough analysis for a stadium," Cate said in a statement.

City Councilmen Scott Sherman and Mark Kersey each issued statements echoing Cate's remarks.

“As a lifelong Chargers fan, it is very encouraging to see an advisory group filled with experts from a variety of fields that will for the first time create a real plan for a new Chargers stadium," Sherman said. "I commend the Mayor for taking the lead and promising to handle this issue on his watch instead of continuing the pattern of kicking the can down the road."

City Councilman Todd Gloria issued a statement that referenced attempts by previous task forces to find a solution.

“Every Chargers fan is hopeful the mayor’s task force will succeed where others have failed and that we will retain professional football in a manner that meets the needs of the team and taxpayers,” Gloria's statement said.

This new task force consists of people who will put together the best plan for both the team and the taxpayers of San Diego. I look forward to working with them and hearing their final recommendations later this year. I commend the Mayor for his commitment to making sure San Diego will finally have a real Chargers Stadium plan to consider before the next Super Bowl," said Kersey, who proposed a separate issue for the 2016 ballot.

The committee will examine the current Qualcomm site in Mission Valley and a possible stadium combined with the convention center in the downtown area.

Full Press Conference: San Diego Mayor Announces Citizens' Stadium Advisory Group