The San Diego Chargers issued their sternest warning yet to City Hall in their long-running effort to get a new stadium, telling a mayor's advisory group they are closely monitoring developments in Los Angeles. And that there might not be a publicly acceptable solution to replace aging Qualcomm Stadium.
Chargers attorney Mark Fabiani met Monday morning with the nine-member advisory group, which was appointed earlier this month by Mayor Kevin Faulconer to come up with a stadium plan that can go on the November 2016 ballot.
Fabiani's statement, released to the media, backed up the belief this is likely the city's last chance to keep the Chargers, who could move to Los Angeles if a new stadium is built there.
While continuing to work to find a solution in San Diego, "we also want to be clear with this Task Force right at the outset: We are keeping a close eye on developments in LA. We do not have a choice but to also monitor and evaluate our options there. Simply put, it would be irresponsible for the Chargers not to be taking every possible step to protect the future of the franchise."
St. Louis Rams owner Stan Kroenke is part of a joint venture that wants to build an 80,000-seat stadium in the L.A. suburb of Inglewood. The Oakland Raiders also could be interested in moving to Los Angeles.
Fabiani said in his statement that 25 percent of the Chargers' season-ticket base comes from the Los Angeles-Orange County market.
"If another team — or two teams — enters the LA/Orange County markets, most of that Chargers' business there will disappear," Fabiani said. "This will put the Chargers at a significant competitive economic disadvantage."
The Chargers' push for a new stadium has coincided with various political and financial upheavals at City Hall. Qualcomm Stadium has fallen into disrepair and lacks the modern amenities the team says it needs to compete financially with other franchises.
Fabiani suggested the group follow four principles to guide its work.
"First, you should resist the political pressure to make a proposal simply for the sake of making a proposal," he said.
Fabiani said the pressure on the Chargers has intensified because of developments in LA.
"But after all these years of work, we also understand this: It might be that — despite the great effort that has been expended — there is at least at this time no publicly acceptable solution to the stadium issue in San Diego. If the facts lead you to this conclusion, we hope you will say so, even though you will be under tremendous political pressure to propose something — anything — just to show that the politicians are trying."
Fabiani also said the Chargers "have no intention of quietly participating in any effort to provide political cover for elected officials. ... Simply put, we have no intention of allowing the Chargers franchise to be manipulated for political cover — and we will call out any elected official who tries to do so."
He suggested the task force's work be subjected to "serious, real-world stress tests," including whether a stadium proposal had a chance of being approved by two-thirds of the voters. Many people feel that a financing plan that would require a two-thirds vote would fail.
Chargers president Dean Spanos, son of owner Alex Spanos, did not attend the meeting. He was out of town due to the holiday, Fabiani said.
The stadium push began in 2002, just five years after the city expanded Qualcomm Stadium. In 2000, Alex Spanos said the team needed a new stadium.