Chargers to meet with San Diego officials next week on stadium project

Location of new Chargers stadium still up in the air (1:34)

ESPN NFL Nation Chargers reporter Eric D. Williams discusses the choice of location for an NFL stadium between downtown and Mission Valley. (1:34)

SAN DIEGO -- After an initial meeting between San Diego Chargers chairman Dean Spanos, San Diego mayor Kevin Faulconer and county supervisor Ron Roberts, the three are expected to meet again early next week.

At issue will be the group reaching an agreement on a location and finance deal for a new NFL stadium that serves as the long-term home for the Chargers.

Mission Valley, the current site of Qualcomm Stadium, and a downtown site next to the San Diego Padres' Petco Park, remain the two possible locations for a new NFL stadium.

Time is ticking. The group needs to put together a fair deal in the next four-to-eight weeks in order for a measure to be placed on the ballot for voters to weigh in on by November.

However, both the Chargers and local government officials also have to convey this project is not just about keeping the NFL in San Diego.

It's also about replacing an old, decaying publicly-owned stadium that is losing money with a new facility that can serve as a regional asset, hosting many other civic events besides the NFL, including the home of San Diego State football, bowl games, World Cup soccer games and future Super Bowls.

Building an NFL stadium in San Diego also has the support of the league, which pledged a $100 million gift toward building a new stadium here during the NFL owners meeting in Houston last month.

"I think it's great that Dean Spanos and his family said we want to make this work in San Diego," NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said during his news conference at Super Bowl 50 festivities on Friday. "They have an incredibly attractive option in Los Angeles, but they decided we're going to go and try to make this work in San Diego. We will do everything we can to support them."

The city's proposal at Mission Valley

San Diego's 41-page proposal outlines the city's plan for replacing Qualcomm Stadium, which is essentially the same $1.1 billion proposal the government agency proposed midway through 2015 to build a new facility at the Mission Valley site. Check out the video.

Here's how the deal breaks down:

• $363 million by the Chargers

• $200 million by the NFL

• $187 million in personal seat licenses

• $350 million public contribution

Pending voter approval, the public contribution would include $200 million in lease revenue bonds from the city and $150 million from the county's capital improvement fund. A majority public vote would be needed in a November election to unlock the $350 million in public funding.

Faulconer's proposal puts a cap on how much public money would be spent, with the Chargers responsible for any cost overruns, along with stadium operations and maintenance.

One selling point for the public is taxpayers would save $282 million in funds needed to operate Qualcomm Stadium over the next 20 years, and could put some of those savings toward a new facility.

Chargers downtown proposal

For some time the Chargers preferred alternative for an NFL stadium has been downtown.

JMI Realty, the development company responsible for Petco Park, proposed building a $1.4 billion multi-use facility with a retractable roof that would house a stadium for the Chargers, along with planned expansion of the convention center.

The center would include an exhibition hall below the football field and a meeting room and ballroom space in an attached building that has views of the field and bay.

JMI says the project would save hundreds of millions of dollars, rather than building stand-alone facilities for both projects. JMI uses the same architect the Chargers have used, Populous out of Kansas City. Done separately, the price tag on the two projects could reach $1.8 billion, according to JMI.

Last year, Mark Fabiani, point person for the Chargers on the stadium issue, outlined four reasons the Chargers prefer a downtown site for a new stadium.

Infrastructure: The roads, freeways and parking are already in place to handle the amount of people that would travel to a stadium downtown on game days, so the city would not need to invest hundreds of millions of dollars in road and infrastructure improvements.

Mission Valley site as leverage: The Chargers believe the city could use the Mission Valley site as a source of revenue -- by selling it to a developer in order to help fund the public's financial portion of a new stadium. The Chargers believe using public money from the city's general fund is a tough sell for voters, and poses a risk to essential services like police, fire and roads.

Multi-use facility: Building a multi-use facility would be more attractive to voters weighing on the project than paying for a stand-alone football stadium. The attraction of hosting other public events, including concerts, Final Fours and major soccer events could serve as more of an enticement to voters.

Revenue stream: The hotel tax earmarked to help pay for a joint-use facility convention center expansion is the most likely tax to be approved by voters because it's a tax mostly paid by tourists.

Citizens' initiative effort

Whether the choice of site for the new stadium is Mission Valley or downtown, a key to getting the proposal to the ballot is for the Chargers' plan to use the citizens' initiative effort to bypass some of the environmental review concerns on both sites, similar to what the team accomplished to get land for a stadium in Carson approved last year.

The Chargers already have assembled the same legal, land-use and financial team the franchise used to get a fully entitled site in Carson.

By using the citizens' initiative process, the Chargers can avoid some of the legal entanglements they are concerned with at the Mission Valley site, making the project exempt from the California Environmental Quality Act, or CEQA.

On completion of a draft of the citizens' initiative by the end of March, the Chargers would need nearly 67,000 registered voters to sign a petition in support of a plan in an eight-week period.

Once votes are verified, San Diego's city council can adopt the measure by council action or vote to place the measure on the ballot. The last possible date city council can do that is Aug. 12.