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Politics

Is It Too Late To Keep Chargers In San Diego?

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell holds a news conference after the NFL owners meeting in Irving, Texas, Dec. 2, 2015.
Associated Press
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell holds a news conference after the NFL owners meeting in Irving, Texas, Dec. 2, 2015.

Union-Tribune reports NFL Commissioner Goodell appears to be saying 'yes'

The head of the NFL says it may be too late for San Diego to put together a viable plan to keep the Chargers.

The San Diego Union-Tribune on Wednesday quoted NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell as saying San Diego officials would have to present “certainty” in their plan to build a new stadium for the Chargers — certainty that would be lacking if the city has yet to schedule a referendum on public financing of that stadium.

“Certainty means no further votes required,” Goodell told the Union-Tribune, “that there is a deal that is fully approved, that there are not complications that are unforeseen, that this project can be completed. It’s that simple.”

NFL team owners will meet Jan. 12 and 13 in Houston to discuss relocating a team to the Los Angeles area. It's not clear if they'll also be voting on which team to send there.

The owners met Wednesday in Irving, Texas, to discuss the pending push by the Chargers, Oakland Raiders and St. Louis Rams to move to the L.A. area.

Various media reports out of Dallas indicated that some owners expressed confidence that a vote would be held in January. If a vote is not held at that time, it would likely ensure that a team will not be playing in the Los Angeles area in 2016.

The league will formally accept re-location proposals beginning Jan. 4, Goodell said.

The Chargers and Raiders have proposed a joint stadium in the Los Angeles suburb of Carson, while Rams owner Stan Kroenke is proposing a stadium for his team at the former Hollywood Park racetrack location in Inglewood. According to media reports, Kroenke has had discussions in recent weeks with Chargers officials about possibly sharing the stadium in Inglewood.

Carson Mayor Albert Robles has discounted those reports, saying he has received assurances from the Chargers that the team is committed to moving to Carson.

He told KNX Newsradio in Los Angeles that a shift by the Chargers to Inglewood would be "not only a knife in my back but a slap at all Carson residents."

The Chargers have been asking for a replacement for aging Qualcomm Stadium for nearly 15 years and have acquired land in Carson where they could build a facility perhaps in concert with the Raiders. The city and county of San Diego have proposed building a stadium in Mission Valley, but there have been no negotiations with the team since June because of a dispute over the way an environmental study was conducted.

Goodell questioned today whether San Diego could put an adequate proposal together in time for the January meeting.

While no substantial plan has been put forth to keep the Raiders in Oakland, officials in St. Louis and the state of Missouri are trying to keep the Rams from leaving. NFL executives have described that plan as being further along the process than what's been offered by San Diego.

Kroenke met with St. Louis officials Monday to get clarification on their proposal.

It will be up to the owners to decide which team, if any, will go to Los Angeles — which has been without an NFL franchise for more than 20 years.

Wednesday's NFL owners meeting took place one day after the city of San Diego released its response to concerns league executives had with a term sheet for a Mission Valley stadium project proposed by the city and county two months ago.

The response from city/county consultant Chris Melvin told the NFL that a public vote on a proposed stadium project would be likely to pass thanks to Mayor Kevin Faulconer's strong approval ratings, as long as it included the backing of regional leaders and the Chargers.

On other matters raised by the NFL, Melvin wrote that any litigation involving an environmental study for a proposed stadium site near existing Qualcomm Stadium would be resolved by the end of next year, that the city and county have strong credit ratings, and that any impact of a separate initiative that could shift a stadium project to downtown would be mitigated if the Chargers were in opposition.

The NFL also expressed concerns about a lack of financial details in the term sheet. Melvin wrote that the intention was to negotiate the specifics, but he did provide a framework regarding rent, ticket surcharges and parking fees.