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'We're Out Of Time' — So Says Chargers Stadium Spokesman

An overall view of the San Diego Chargers playing against the Oakland Raiders at Qualcomm Stadium, Nov. 16, 2014.
Gregory Bull / Associated Press
An overall view of the San Diego Chargers playing against the Oakland Raiders at Qualcomm Stadium, Nov. 16, 2014.

Mark Fabiani made the remarks on KPBS Midday Edition

San Diego City, County Negotiators To Talk To NFL About Stadium Plans
San Diego City, County Negotiators To Talk To NFL About Stadium Plans GUESTS: Mark Fabiani, special counsel, San Diego Chargers Jan Goldsmith, San Diego city attorney Jim Steeg, former NFL and Chargers executive

Yesterday sanding Amir said the Chargers are not agreeing to any lands offered by the city, not far offering any plans of their own and appellee trained to run out the clock on their contract San Diego. City leaders say they plan to bring it before NFL officials to reengage in stadium negotiations. What the NFL will do the team has decided they want to leave San Diego is an open question. Joining me first on the line is Mark Bob Yanni his spokesman a special counsel to the San Diego Chargers and Mark welcome. You set the Chargers don't see any more reason to negotiate. Since the time I presented by the city for environmental tech report and about is not legally possible is that the only reason? We spent three or more negotiations and many different other phone calls emails text working with city officials in the cities outside experts. We just disagree, the city believes it can do a quick thing in a manner mother to and that will survive legal challenge. We believe as to our outside lawyers, would leave experts in the country, we plea that is legally insufficient and will be struck down in court. We think it's analogous to the cities half-baked plan to fund the convention center expansion with a thing that was clearly illegal from the start. The city gave it a try anyway and it was struck down. Four years and 10 million tax dollars were wasted. We're not about to engage in a not well novel legal strategy. We went something that has been worked elsewhere. Look around and see AEG in Los Angeles took seven months. We see when Petco Park was built, it took 10 months. We see up north the new arena took 11 months. We see the one under stadium took 10 months. We can to capitated project like this and satisfy California's environmental laws with a quickie. If you try to be defeated in court and we don't want to be part of that. These negotiations we started a couple weeks ago. If it's your believe that at EIR which is necessary will take 12 to 18 months to complete and your time and requires a vote by December, why did you even start negotiations? We're hoping the city would come up a something we hadn't thought of. Are -- What would that be? Obviously there isn't anything. The city presented their ideas, they started with going to Sacramento and getting a complete exemption, that it be possible. They moved to a category exemption which is rarely criticized by the experts they then said we could rely on adding something to 1983 32-year-old EIR does the discretion of the state Admiral and put an addendum on that and it would lower us to build a new stadium and tear down the old stadium. That didn't work. They are onto their fourth idea. I would argue these ideas have got increasingly worse as time has gone on. Their new ideas just to any IR in a month or two in writing and have a 45 day comment period this next backup projects like this is unheard of. If you talk to any lawyer who has no ties to any of this they will laugh at this idea. It hasn't been done. Looking at the whole picture, it's been remarks every time San Diego agrees to a Chargers demand, the charges come up with a new roadblocks. You did what about that require tutors majority so you got that because You have to stop right there. That is not true. Our town -- plan for downtown required a two thirds vote to increase the hotel tax that's not true. Let's stay downtown. Quite a few people who speculate that what the downtown stadium location was taken off the table, the Chargers were finished San Diego. The downtown location is the one you guys wanted but wouldn't that site have actually taken much longer to build than these new stadium ideas the city has come up with in Mission Valley. Those sites would have required a full-blown EIR. That's one of the war reasons we complain. We are Chris's sides -- criticized for complaining. We set this is a bad idea because it's going to waste months I will run out of time. We set it back then and I criticized regardless of wired negative on the task was give them a chance. We are six months later, we're out of time and that's not our fault. We didn't choose to avoid the task force, the mayor himself has been in office for more than a year and then gotten started. To complain now that it's our fault, that's unfair. What about the financing plan? Are the charges agreeable? The first order of business was can we figure out can we get him balance in 2015, is there a legally defensible way to get on the ballot in 2015? If are the city, I would look at it the way they are looking at it to come I would say we can find some soccer women to go along with our plan, why not give it a shot maybe we will win in court. It's just that they did with the convention center. But the city.there's a chance will when let's give it a try. When you wrap a private company into that, the private company looks at the risk a lot different way. They look at way to minute if we lose, we are going to be out three or four years of time, millions of dollars, we will have lost out on our Los Angeles opportunity and we will be nowhere. Our level of risk tolerance is lower than the city as we seek to different points of view here. Let me change the subject. In remarks in San Diego officials, it's become clear they are not only frustrated with the attitude of Chargers management but they are exasperated with you. It's been said you have not been straightforward with the city during this process and you said one thing while doing another. It's possible you might know longer be trusted by some of the key players in this so would it be in the best interest of solving this stadium issue for you, Mark, to step aside? That's a decision Dean Espinoza and his family would make. I would respect her decision. We told everyone back in January what was going to happen if the mayor appointed a task force and let them work for months and months on this. We told the city would run out of time. With until the city in February were going to create another option for ourselves to protect ourselves and we could get something done here. We told them we were going to do a stadium in person. From where I sit we've done everything we say we're going to do. We will continue to do that. We're not going to get roped in to some half-baked legal strategy that doomed to failure. It's not going to happen. The mayor can whine and scream all he wants, he can hire political operatives it's not going to convince the Chargers this legally dubious idea makes sense. It's never going to. At this point in your opinion, is there anything San Diego can do to get an agreement from the Chargers on a new stadium plan? Obviously we're out of time for 2015. 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. If on the other hand, Los Angeles decision was delayed for another year which is certainly possible, then of course we have another year to work on it. The weight you work on this stuff is not by doing with the mayor and his people do which is constantly attack, constantly criticize. Look at Oakland and St. Louis. Those cities which are facing the same possible relocation of NFL team, they're dealing with the situation in a much more sophisticated much more nuanced manner than the mayor is here. I've got to wrap it up with you. I appreciate your time. I've been speaking with Mark with the San Diego Chargers and thank you very much because Beckett studio with me now or Jan Goldsmith, San Diego city Atty. And Jim and Steve Armer and if all executive and former benefits -- welcome. Jan, do the Chargers have a point. Incremental impact report usually take more than year to college. How can San Diego feasibly do this by October 15? They have a point in that the key issues is environment to review. This exemption in the law which says that have to do an environmental review if all you're doing is replacing existing structure. We are doing is placing a stadium with a smaller stadium. They said no to that because it could be challenged. We said okay then what we will do is we will figure out a way to do a complete environmental impact report. It's a little bit surprising to hear a lawyer say that is not complying with Seco because that is what it requires if you're not good to use an exception. The question is can you do would normally requires 12 to 18 months in 14 months? That is a legitimate question but it's not illegal issue. Mark nor I nor the other legal experts have ever done environment in part because that's a done by engineers and traffic engineers etc. We went to them and we have a whole team inside the city, Lisa gives the time when I would take if we got you all working simultaneously. They came back and said this is not a typical project. Normally we see a project proposal of vacant land and we have to envision buildings in traffic and give opinions. Here we have a stadium that simply being replaced. It's been there for over 50 years, we know the traffic analytes etc. are. We believe working simultaneously, that is different teams working on different issues, if you authorize to do that, we are confident we can have this completed by October 15, a thorough and by mental impact report as disappointing to hear lawyer say that's inadequate without even seeing their work product. Does at the speed itself open the report of two more losses that it would originally be subject to? No. Instead of having one consultant working on that, you're talking about an entire team plus the advantage are not changing anything. You're just replacing what's already there. We don't have to give opinions on traffic, we know what the traffic has been? Let them do their work. The mayor has already started it. It's not true what Mark just said that we haven't started it. They started working on this, June 1. The mayor authorized it. The problem is in order to have an election this process we need an election on generating 12 we need to have an agreement if the Chargers want to stay in San Diego, there's a path to do that. We sit down and negotiate and how to build a stadium and let the seek what experts follow their timeline. They prepare the time it. We don't have a problem, we have a charger problem. I respect the family gets to make a business decision and I don't make the decision for them but don't make excuses. Can you characterize with the negotiating meetings has been like, is there give and take? We have not gotten down to how to rebuild a stadium in who is going to pay for it etc. what we had talked about our issues we have brought in the number one expert in the state who wrote the book on it. They have some good knowledgeable experts on their side. Our expert said yes you can use the exemption, that's what therefore, they said no. Said you can use an older EIR and bring it today and they said no. Then we came in and said we can do and EIR and here's a timeline and stem of the engineers and had persons in the room. At that point they said that sounds good and tours later we got a press release saying there's no more negotiations pick You have heard no proposals are plans coming from the Chargers? I haven't. I like Mark. I just think it's disingenuous to reply upon certain things. It's a smokescreen. A business decision was made, don't use a smokescreen. What does the city proposed to do is presentation to NFL officials? That will Let Mayor's office on how it's to be presented. I think the NFL should know all about this. They set a time deadline and we can meet that time deadline, we don't need an extension of time. As long as generate 12 election date is acceptable. We just want to get down to a table, we can negotiate a stadium at the same time they're doing their valuations. We are ready, willing, and able. We look at the Chargers as our partners in the Goucher should we can't do it alone. That has to change. What is the NFL's authority on this? Can they force the Chargers back to the negotiating table? My understanding was one of the conclusions that came out of the trial back in the 80s was if you set up guidelines, for moving, you have to adhere to those guidelines because Beckett one of those guidelines that exist there is they have to go sheet in good faith -- and negotiate in good faith. I got that from friends of mine who were on the legal team the NFL in that trial To the Chargers have to get permission to relocate? Yes. To get 24 votes out of the 32. When will that be taking? Who knows. To have a meeting on August 11 that's coming around the corner. They had talked about December, my guess is they won't try to do anything to affect any of these three teams and what will happen to them during the season because it has an adverse effect on everything. This has the potential to be the Houston Oilers, 1996. When they moved and played about 15,000 people and it was a bad scene. Go back to the Cleveland Browns in 1995? I don't think they'll happen. I think it will be smart is a learned a lesson 20 years ago. With the data files of steak is all about money? There are a lot of guys I trust in and have known almost their entire life that are on this committee to The go back with franchises established in the 1920s. They understand the importance of stability. There hasn't been franchise moved since 1996. It has only been three this Mac I take that back, the Raiders and the Rams moved in 93 and left a 20 year hole in Los Angeles. Hasn't been Cardinals after the Raiders moved to Delhi. What's ironic in this whole thing is a started with Los Angeles to begin with. It wasn't at this Mac inadequate stadium, which it still is. The Raiders moving into the Coliseum, so whole bunch of improvement there. I believe they negotiated a lease at one point with the then Deputy Mayor of Los Angeles to sign a 20 year lease extension. Is good to know we are not alone because Los Angeles has been fighting the stadium fight since the 70s because Does the city of San Diego have an absolute deadline? For this EIR to begin her to make this or to be completed to make this January deadline? Is there a point at which we say we can negotiate anymore. Regarding begun the environmental impact reports. There's nothing we can do to stop that unless the mayor decides this a waste of money. That is on its own track. What we really need to sit down at the table and talk about a stadium, who pace were, when it will look like. Who's going to operate and pay for that? We haven't started that. The experts on our side who tell us that typically take several months to negotiate the give-and-take. You can give ESI down to the table, how easy will it be to negotiate a deal. We will not give away the store. We represent the city of San Diego and the taxpayers so it's going to be a lot of it and take. Will not sell them out. From that standpoint will take some time. In order to meet our deadlines to get on the ballot, we need to have something in place by the beginning of August. At the latest. They go to the city Council and Board of Supervisors and get it approved by the ballot. We still need to reach agreements have a term sheet and ritual -- written documents. With a long way to go haven't even started. That's the frustration on the city's part. If the first choice of San Diego, you'd think they would have jumped for joy and said you guys really have a large group of engineers to commit their time email pitch in to help San Diego make sure we can get a full loan thorough environmental impact report? Let's start talking about a stadium. That wasn't the attitude unfortunately. That's why say we need to. If they just say it's not in the cards, and we don't go to all of this consumer time and money. If it comes to pass later on, it comes to pass. Right now we're not giving up. Thank you both very much because

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.

San Diego City, County Negotiators To Talk To NFL About Stadium Plans