'Soft deadline' for San Diego stadium deal looms

Posted at 3:47 PM, Sep 10, 2015
and last updated 2015-09-10 18:47:29-04

What city officials describe as a "soft deadline" Friday to reach an agreement with the Chargers on a stadium plan, in order to conduct a public vote in January, was likely to pass without a deal, according to both sides.

Sept. 11 is considered to be the last day San Diego and the Chargers can forge an agreement in time to have the City Attorney's Office draft a ballot measure and get it approved by the City Council in time to hold a special election.

City officials said the deadline could be fudged slightly if the Chargers rushed in at the 11th hour to propose a deal, which is considered highly unlikely.

The Chargers ended stadium negotiations in June after objecting to the city's expedited timeline that produced an environmental impact report much faster than usual. Team special counsel Mark Fabiani contended the study would not pass legal muster and, in an email to City News Service today, said his opinion hadn't changed.

"Unfortunately the quickie EIR is not like a fine wine; it doesn't get better with age," Fabiani said.

"On the contrary, the more time you spend with the EIR, the worse it looks," he said. "So our position remains the same as it has been since mid-June -- he city has made a fateful mistake by basing its entire offer to the team and the NFL on a quickie EIR that is fatally flawed and that will almost certainly be thrown out by the courts after several years of litigation."

Mayor Kevin Faulconer, county Supervisor Ron Roberts and City Attorney Jan Goldsmith created the hastened timeline because the league is poised to make decisions about relocating a team to Los Angeles as early as this fall, and probably no later than January. They've said the quick EIR is valid because a project would simply replace existing Qualcomm Stadium, so the impacts are already known.

The Chargers have been wanting a new stadium for nearly 15 years and have acquired land in Carson to build their own stadium -- possibly in concert with the Oakland Raiders -- in case they can't make a deal in San Diego.

Meanwhile, St. Louis Rams owner Stan Kroenke is planning to build a stadium in Inglewood, like Carson, a city in Los Angeles County. NFL owners will have to decide if all, some or none of the teams will be allowed to move into the potentially lucrative Los Angeles market, which has been without a franchise for more than 20 years.

The likely passage of Friday's deadline won't come as a surprise to San Diego officials, who have told CNS that the June primary and November general elections are available for a ballot measure if the two sides can regroup.

The deadline is two days before the Chargers open the 2015 regular season at home against the Detroit Lions.