National Football League owners revived a defunct stadium loan program Wednesday, which could provide $200 million for the Chargers to build a new venue in East Village that's estimated to cost $800 million or more.
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As recently as July, the team estimated it could get $100 million from the league if it restored its low-cost loans, which dried up in 2006, to the comparable levels that had existed before.
Chargers special counsel Mark Fabiani called the league's announcement "great news for the team and our fans."
"As much as $200 million in league loans and assistance might now be available to us," Fabiani said. "The final amount will depend on a variety of factors, set forth in the resolution passed by the owners today, and we will be crunching numbers in the coming days."
Fabiani said the resolution "makes clear that each project will be evaluated individually, on its merits, so it is up to us to put forth an attractive project to the NFL -- and to get our place in line as soon as we can."
The Chargers have eyed a potential stadium site in East Village for a couple years to replace Qualcomm Stadium in Mission Valley, where the team has played for 44 years.
Fabiani, hired in 2002 to spearhead the team's search for a new stadium, has previously said that building one east of Petco Park could cost $800 million and that the league and the team might contribute $300 million. His construction estimate does not include at least $150 million to clean up the envisioned site and move its current tenants, which include a busy Metropolitan Transit System bus yard, a brewpub and other businesses.
With the Chargers, 49ers, Vikings and competing developers in Los Angeles proposing new stadiums, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said construction money will be distributed based on projects' private investments.
"Theyve become more complex and more expensive in these markets and we had to adjust our policy to participate in these projects and support these projects both at the club level and league level," he said.
Helping the league's ability to build more stadiums is a new extension of its TV broadcast deals. Goodell announced Wednesday they were extended through 2022.
In San Diego, team and city officials have been meeting for months to work out a financing proposal that might be put to a public vote in November 2012. Mayor Jerry Sanders hired New York financial adviser Lazard Ltd. to help the city in October. He has since met with the firm's consultants three times, most recently this week.
Jonathan Turnbull, the managing director in Lazard's infrastructure financial advisory group, and two other representatives, held a series of meetings Tuesday and Wednesday with city and county officials and stadium boosters. They met with Mayor Jerry Sanders; Councilmen Kevin Faulconer and Todd Gloria; Fred Maas, a former city redevelopment official who is now Sanders' point person on the project; current redevelopment officials Kim Kilkenny and Jeff Graham, and Jim Barwick, the mayor's real estate assets director.
Earlier meetings took place on Oct. 27 and Nov. 9. The November meeting involved county supervisors Dianne Jacob and Ron Roberts and county administrative officer Walt Eckard. Future meetings will involve other council members; Faulconer and Gloria had the earliest meetings because Faulconer's district includes downtown and Gloria will represent the area starting in December 2012 when council districts change with the addition of a ninth council member.
Sanders wants to get a regional financing plan on the November 2012 ballot, and Wednesday his spokesman, Darren Pudgil, said a funding package should be ready by March.
Pleased by the league's latest stadium funding news, Pudgil said NFL money is likely to be a part of any San Diego proposal because without it a deal "would be very difficult." But Pudgil declined to say how much public money the mayor might include in a deal. "Stadiums aren't free," he said.
Reports out of Minnesota said the Vikings also stand to get $200 million from the league. But while the team's talks with state officials to build a $1.1 billion stadium have heated up in recent weeks, the Vikings may not be first in line for league funding.
49ers President Jed York suggested as much on Twitter, not long after the league renewed its loan progam.
"#NFL's next-gen stadium financing program approved today," York wrote. "confident that the #49ers will be the first recipient."
The 49ers are trying to build a $1.1 billion stadium in Santa Clara and Tuesday night its city council voted 7-0 to approve plans to develop and finance a stadium, a step the San Francisco Chronicle reported leaves the team one step closer to saying goodbye.
What remains to be seen following the restoration of the league's loan program is its effect on plans to build billion-dollar football stadiums in downtown Los Angeles or in nearby City of Industry. It's possible those stadium proposals may not benefit from the league's largesse.
The newly-approved NFL resolution requires that a stadium project receiving NFL assistance "must not involve any relocation of or change in an affected clubs 'home territory.'" (Click here
to view PDF above of NFL stadium loan program details.)
The question that language raises is whether the Chargers' home territory includes Los Angeles. NFL officials have previously said Los Angeles is a secondary television market for the Chargers and technically is considered the city's "local team."
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