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NFL Decision Brings ‘Fresh Start’ To San Diego’s Negotiations With Chargers

NFL Decision Brings 'Fresh Start' To San Diego's Negotiations With Chargers

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A day after the NFL rejected plans by Chargers owner Dean Spanos to build a stadium in Carson, San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer says the city has "an opportunity for a fresh start" with the team.

Photo by Christopher Maue

Mayor Kevin Faulconer talks to reporters about the next move in city negotiations with the San Diego Chargers after the NFL rejected the team's proposal to move to Carson, Jan. 13, 2016. Also shown are county Supervisor Ron Roberts, right, and City Attorney Jan Goldsmith.

The National Football League's rejection of plans by Chargers owner Dean Spanos to build a stadium in Carson provides San Diego "an opportunity for a fresh start" with the team, Mayor Kevin Faulconer said Wednesday.

At a late morning news conference, Faulconer said he called Spanos in a bid to restart talks and left a message. Spanos was traveling at the time from Houston, where NFL owners held a daylong meeting Tuesday that resulted in the St. Louis Rams being chosen for a return to Los Angeles.

The Chargers have a one-year option to join the Rams as the second team in a future stadium in Inglewood.

"Today isn't about the past, it's about the future — it's about the opportunity that we have, San Diego and the Chargers, to work together as a team," Faulconer said.

"Today is an opportunity for a fresh start," the mayor said. "I sincerely believe that we can create success for both the Chargers organization and the San Diego region."

Faulconer said the plan by the city and county of San Diego to build a stadium in Mission Valley remains on the table, but he's willing to entertain other locations — like downtown — if they're "viable and legal."

The NFL owners voted 30-2 to allow Rams owner Stan Kroenke to move to land he controls at the old Hollywood Park racetrack.

If San Diego voters approve a financial package to build a stadium here, the Chargers' Los Angeles option would be extended an additional year. Faulconer said he was confident San Diegans would approve such a measure, which likely would be placed on the November election ballot.

"I strongly believe we can get this done," Faulconer said.

County Supervisor Ron Roberts, who has led county efforts to keep the Chargers from moving, and City Attorney Jan Goldsmith also expressed optimism about resuming negotiations with the team.

Photo credit: Associated Press

Houston Texans owner Bob McNair, left, listens as San Diego Chargers owner Dean Spanos talks to reporters after team owners voted to allow the St. Louis Rams to move to a new stadium in Inglewood, and the Chargers will have an option to share the facility, Jan. 12, 2016.

After the news conference, Chargers special counsel Mark Fabiani said he could only reiterate what Spanos said following Tuesday's developments.

"The Chargers have been approved by the NFL to relocate to Los Angeles, and now that the NFL meetings are over, Dean is going to take a few days to evaluate the franchise's new options," Fabiani said.

Spanos was noncommittal Tuesday when asked whether he was willing to reopen talks to keep his team in San Diego. He said the relocation process has been "excruciating for everyone."

The Chargers have until next January to decide on the Inglewood option. If the option expires, the Oakland Raiders will have a chance to become the second team in the greater Los Angeles area.

Both the Chargers and Raiders could receive an extra $100 million from the NFL to build stadiums in their home markets, on top of the $200 million the league already offers for such projects.

Earlier, a proposal by Spanos and Raiders owner Mark Davis to build a facility in Carson failed to garner enough votes for approval. Spanos has wanted a replacement for San Diego's aging Qualcomm Stadium for around 15 years, a quest stymied thus far by the city's fiscal problems of a decade ago, the recession and difficulty in finding a suitable site.

When Kroenke proposed building the Inglewood stadium about a year ago, the Chargers and Raiders responded by announcing plans to construct the Carson facility. The Chargers contend that 25 percent of their business comes from Los Angeles, Orange County and the Inland Empire.

Faulconer established a task force that has recommended building a new facility next to Qualcomm Stadium, but the Chargers broke off negotiations on the proposal last June. The team's refusal to restart talks prevented what could have been a citywide vote on the proposal this month.

Jim Steeg, a former executive with the NFL and the San Diego Chargers, joined KPBS Midday Edition on Wednesday to discuss the latest developments in the Chargers saga.

Steeg said, based on his experience, the Chargers' ownership probably didn't get its way in Carson in part because of how the NFL tallies votes.

"The minute it went to a secret ballot, everything went out the window," Steeg said. "There are any number of times people promise votes to you, and then all of a sudden they don’t get delivered. Because they know they don’t have to raise their hand and look you straight in the eye."

Steeg said the NFL's decision resets the process of negotiating a potential new stadium deal to keep the Chargers in San Diego. But overcoming past negotiation breakdowns won't be easy.

"There has been a lot of ill will created," Steeg said. "We’ve got to put it all in the past. This is a fresh start."

Rafael Alvarez also joined KPBS Midday Edition to offer the fan perspective on Tuesday's meeting. He's the organizer of Bolt Pride and Save Our Bolts, which together represent more than 20,000 San Diego Chargers fans.

"I’m excited," Alvarez said. "Yesterday's outcome was probably the best scenario for San Diego."

Alvarez said there's still work to be done on convincing the Chargers ownership to remain in San Diego. But he said, "This keeps hope alive."


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