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Mayor Endorses Chargers' Stadium Plans, Opponents Ratchet Up Campaign

San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer speaks during a news conference about the city's NFL football team in San Diego, Jan. 13, 2016.
Associated Press
San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer speaks during a news conference about the city's NFL football team in San Diego, Jan. 13, 2016.
Mayor Faulconer Endorses Chargers Stadium Initiative
Mayor Faulconer Endorses Chargers Stadium Initiative
Mayor Faulconer Endorses Chargers Stadium Initiative GUEST:Erik Anderson, reporter, KPBS News

It is Monday, October 3rd our top story on Midday Edition. With little more than a month to go, Mayor Faulconer has come out with the stadium plan measure C. He has been noncommittal for months about the plan to will the football stadium in downtown San Diego, saying he wanted to study the plan bullied. Now he is out with his endorsement and a list of concessions that the team has agreed to. Joining me is reporter Eric Anderson who spoke with Mayor Faulconer this morning. Welcome. Thank you. What are the top concessions? The mayor came up with a list of eight items that he said will never be included as a part of measure C. These are agreements that were made if Measure C passes at the polls. They will The projected cost at $1.8 billion total and make sure there are no cost overruns. They say there will be no subsidies from the city's operating budget. He measured does not call for that but it also does not prohibit that from happening. And he says there will be a non-relocation agreement that is the same length as the bond terms that we take out. So the initial measure culturing non-relocation agreement for 30 years and the bond run for 40 years. So the non-relocation agreement would be stretched out to 40 years as long as the bond are in action. The city gets dollars from non--NFL revenue. More money is going into the city that we can use on neighborhood services . It will guarantee money for our tourism marketing district and that is how we pay but Street and pay for police officers. It allows us to have the certainty to move forward. Mayor Faulconer said that if they agree they will get reimbursed for taxpayer money already spent and the tailgating Park will be addressed and quality-of-life and neighborhood issues will be addressed sufficiently. That is stuff like the height and signage and noise and traffic impact on nearby neighborhoods. Is this like the mayor waited so long to weigh in on this measure? The mayor said he was in talks with the Chargers and he came to the table with a certain set of things that he wanted. He said he has gotten the concessions that he wanted after meeting with the Chargers. He feels confident the plan now can go forward. Dean Spanish wrote he agrees in principle but it is too late to change the language in Measure C . So how solid are these commitments? I am not a lawyer. But it is what it is. The ballot will not be changed. This is a promise I the Chargers to meet these agreement it is a publicly-made promise and if you believe in the good faith of all the parties involved, you would say that those decisions would be observed and render going into the future. What the legal questions are, I don't have a good answer for that. Do we know if Mayor Faulconer will be actively campaigning for Measure C ? He says he will support the measure and he will campaign for the measure. He did not say he will be out eating the drum every day, every week or at specific events. But he says, as he will for other candidates and issues in the city that he supports, he will speak in favor of Measure C. I've been speaking with KPBS reporter Eric Anderson My pleasure.

Mayor Endorses Chargers' Stadium Plans, Opponents Ratchet Up Campaign
Mayor Kevin Faulconer Monday endorsed Measure C, the Chargers' initiative to build a stadium and convention center annex in downtown San Diego, hours before opponents ratcheted up their campaign.

Mayor Kevin Faulconer Monday endorsed Measure C, the Chargers' initiative to build a stadium and convention center annex in downtown San Diego, hours before opponents ratcheted up their campaign.

Faulconer came to support the initiative after Chargers executives agreed in writing to cover any cost overrides related to the construction or land purchases, guaranteed that the city's general fund would not be used and, among other concessions, turn over to the city revenue generated from non-NFL events.

RELATED: Stadium Foes, Chargers Stick To Game Plans As Measure C Goes To Voters

The team would also repay the city preliminary costs if the Chargers relocate before construction begins, and include a pledge to remain in San Diego until the project's initial debt was paid off.

"This wasn't about the short term of the November election, it was about the long-term protections that we need for decades to come," Faulconer told City News Service.

The mayor, who acknowledged that a two-thirds requirement for the measure to pass is a "very, very difficult threshold to achieve," said the negotiations led to "the principles, safeguards and the accountability" that San Diego needs for a long-term solution.

The Chargers have sought to replace Qualcomm Stadium in Mission Valley for years. In January, NFL owners rejected plans to build a joint facility with the Oakland Raiders in Carson. Team owner Dean Spanos then said he would give San Diego another try, although if local efforts fall through, the Chargers and the Los Angeles Rams could share a future stadium in Inglewood.

Faulconer and other local officials had initially offered to build a replacement on the Qualcomm Stadium site, but the team rejected the plan, opting for an East Village location near Petco Park.

Measure C opponents, including City Councilmen David Alvarez, Chris Cate, and Scott Sherman, along with Councilman-elect Chris Ward and other civic leaders, continued to criticize the initiative at an afternoon news conference.

"A lot of promises are being made by the Chargers and by others," Alvarez said. "Talk is cheap — the only thing that matters is what's on the ballot. That is the only thing that's legally binding."

Alvarez represents the neighborhood where the stadium complex would be built. He said there was no public input when the measure was crafted, and it shows, "In crafting Measure C, Spanos did not involve the public."

He said Measure C contains "giveaway after giveaway after giveaway" to Chargers Chairman Dean Spanos, including limited public input on the project, the right to put up two electronic signs and large billboards, plus ancillary revenues like naming rights.

Cate said Spanos can come back to city leaders if Measure C passes and say that a deal is a deal.

Ward, who will represent the downtown and East Village area beginning in December, said his future constituents want the Chargers to stay in San Diego, "but not at all costs, not at the cost of investment in our communities."

Measure C on the Nov. 8 ballot would raise San Diego's hotel room tax to help pay for the project, which has an estimated price tag of $1.8 billion. The levy is currently 10.5 percent, with a separate 2 percent fee that funds tourism marketing. Measure C would raise the tax to a total of 16.5 percent.

The Chargers and NFL would kick in a combined $650 million toward the project. Team executives said the combined facility would not only result in a state-of-the-art football stadium, but space that could be used for around 300 days a year.

Financial data on Measure C will also be released at this afternoon's news conference.

Tony Manolatos, a spokesman for Measure C opponents, said the plan is a "bad deal for San Diego."

"It would divert more than $1 billion in new taxes to a stadium project and subsidize a NFL franchise worth more than $2 billion," Manolatos said. "Anyone who says it's a good deal for San Diego is more interested in politics than good public policy."

The Chargers' stadium plans have been endorsed by the Downtown San Diego Partnership, a coalition of property owners and business, and the San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce.

"Mayor Faulconer and his team carefully examined the initiative from every angle, weighing the opportunities and challenges for San Diego residents, businesses, and government," chamber President and CEO Jerry Sanders said in a statement.

"The safeguards he negotiated will provide the protections our city needs so we can continue to create jobs and grow our economy," Sanders said. "In this plan for a multi-use sports and convention complex, our community can accomplish two things — keep our NFL team in town, and drive progress in the East Village, downtown, and the entire San Diego region."