SAN DIEGO -- With Petco Park serving as a backdrop, San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer announced names of civic leaders and financial experts tasked with finding a location and creating a finance plan to build a new stadium for the San Diego Chargers.
"Let's be honest, at no point in San Diego's history has the possibility of the Chargers moving to L.A. been more real," Faulconer said. "It's time for us as a community to come together to decide the future of the Chargers in San Diego."
Faulconer's announcement follows news earlier this month that a developer and a company operated by St. Louis Rams owner Stan Kroenke unveiled plans to build an 80,000-seat stadium in Inglewood, California, on land he owns near Hollywood Park.
The Chargers, the Rams and the Oakland Raiders are teams that could potentially relocate to the lucrative Los Angeles market in the near future.
Speaking at his annual state of the league news conference prior to Super Bowl XLIX, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell addressed the potential of a team relocating to Los Angeles.
"There are teams that are interested that are trying to work their issues out locally," Goodell said. "As a league, we haven't got to that stage yet, and they would all be subject to relocation policy requirements."
On hearing the news that Faulconer created an advisory group to study the issue, Goodell said the league needs to see tangible results toward building a new stadium "sooner rather than later."
Faulconer stood on ground that the Chargers would like to serve as the future location for the stadium, across the street from Petco Park, with a land bridge that could connect the project to a convention center expansion.
For Faulconer, the completion of the San Diego Padres' Petco Park is a symbol of what the city can accomplish for the Chargers.
"This is obviously one of the sites we're looking at downtown, just like Qualcomm is," Faulconer said. "But more for me was this community came together. There were people that doubted we could get Petco Park done, but we did it. We can do great things together. We got Petco Park done, and we can get this done."
However, conspicuously absent was a representative of the team. Faulconer and the Chargers have not met since Mark Fabiani, the team's point person on the stadium issue, criticized the mayor for including civic leader Steve Cushman in the city's stadium efforts.
Fabiani claimed that Cushman, board chair for the San Diego convention center, had been an impediment to getting stadium deals done during the team's 13-year effort to secure a new home.
Cushman was not part of the nine-member group Faulconer revealed Friday. The group included prominent community stakeholders, along with finance and real estate experts.
"This is a group that's going to be independent, and I think that's important," Faulconer said. "I also think this is a group that's going to work closely with the Chargers. We're all in this together." In a prepared statement, Fabiani said, "We will be happy to share with the mayor's new task force the nine different stadium proposals the Chargers have made over the years, as well as the ideas produced by another city-appointed task force and by two separate outside experts hired by the city during this period. We will also be pleased to evaluate any other ideas generated by this latest task force."
Faulconer said the group has a deadline of early fall to meet his goal. It will have city resources at its disposal to help in the decision-making process, but it will operate independently. Whatever recommendation the group comes up with will ultimately be vetted by the city and placed before voters to scrutinize.
The group will be tasked with looking at a downtown spot next to Petco Park and the Qualcomm Stadium site as potential locations of a new stadium.
"We need to have something on paper," Faulconer said. "We need to have something that says, 'Here's what we think has worked in other places.' And have people be able to touch it and feel it -- kick the tires and make changes to it."
Former NFL executive Jim Steeg is lending his expertise to the effort. Steeg helped grow the Super Bowl from a championship football game to the weeklong extravaganza that exists now. Steeg was in charge of 26 Super Bowls, and he has attended games in 70 major stadiums in the United States and around the world.
"It's one of those key, component parts that mark the success of a great city," Steeg said. "And it's not just a stadium for the Chargers, but it's all of the other things that can be done with it. I proved that you could hold hockey games in Dodger Stadium.
"So where are you doing those things? You can get venues that hold 200 events in a year, so it's not just the 700,000 people that show up for Chargers' games. It's going to be millions of people that show up to do other things, too.