‘We’re Out Of Time’ — So Says Chargers Stadium Spokesman
Mark Fabiani made the remarks on KPBS Midday Edition
Thursday, June 18, 2015
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In dueling interviews on KPBS Midday Edition, the San Diego city attorney and a spokesman for the Chargers took opposing stances in the battle over a new stadium for the San Diego Chargers.
There is nothing left that the city of San Diego can do to solve the stadium issue before the NFL owners vote on whether to allow the Chargers to move to Los Angeles, Chargers spokesman Mark Fabiani said.
“Obviously, we’re out of time for 2015," Fabiani told KPBS. "And if the NFL owners in their judgment decide to move ahead with Los Angeles in 2015, then, no, it’s hard to see how anything can happen. On the other hand, if for whatever reason the Los Angeles decision was delayed by NFL owners for another year, which is certainly possible — it may not be likely but it’s possible — then, of course, you have another year to work on it.”
City Attorney Jan Goldsmith countered that the city can finish an environmental impact report on the proposed new facility at the Qualcomm Stadium site in Mission Valley by October and be ready for a public vote by January.
Goldsmith told KPBS that the city “hasn’t even started” negotiating with the Chargers over who will pay for what, and that the plans for the new stadium can’t move ahead unless the Chargers are willing to be at the table.
The two men disagreed over whether an environmental impact report, which is required by California law, could be complete before a public vote on the stadium is held in January. Goldsmith said the study began June 1 and that experts who work on these studies told the city it could be finished by Oct. 15.
“I don’t think we have a CEQA problem. We have a Chargers problem,” Goldsmith said, referring to the California Environmental Quality Act.
Fabiani said the team believes a rushed report would open the city to legal challenges.
“We’re not about to engage in some sort of novel legal strategy that’s never been tried,” he said.
But Goldsmith said he doesn't think a rushed environmental report will lead to legal challenges because the city is planning to build a replacement stadium on a site that already houses a stadium.
“We don’t have to give opinions on traffic. We know what the traffic has been for the past 50 years,” he said.
When KPBS asked Fabiani why the Chargers agreed to negotiations with the city if the timeline was impossible, he said, “We were hoping the city would come up with something we hadn’t thought of.”
Fabiani said he warned the city in January that Mayor Kevin Faulconer's Citizens' Stadium Advisory Group would be a “waste of time,” and he blamed the time the group took to come up with a stadium plan for running out the clock. He also said the Chargers told the city in February that the team would explore the option of building a joint stadium with the Oakland Raiders in Carson, a suburb of Los Angeles.
A Carson City Council meeting this week broke into turmoil on the subject of the joint stadium when city officials accused each other of corruption, according to the Los Angeles Times. Carson’s mayor authorized a $180,000 contract for a consultant to help with the environmental report for the proposed stadium, but that wasn’t what caused the outburst. Instead, it was because the mayor changed the combination to a safe in Carson City Hall.
Jim Steeg, a member of Faulconer's Chargers task force, told KPBS that the Chargers would have to get 24 out of 32 votes from the NFL owners to be allowed to move to Los Angeles.
He said the NFL has not said when that vote will occur, but that he doesn’t expect it will happen during the football season, which runs from September to February.
But potential vote dates keep changing, Steeg said, and have included February, January and December.
NFL executives have publicly said they hope to have a team in Los Angeles as soon as next year, and decisions on whether teams will move there could come this fall.
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