Actionable stadium plan in San Diego needed with owners meeting looming

SAN DIEGO -- Time is running out for community and civic leaders in San Diego to put together a stadium plan that works for the San Diego Chargers.

As expected, NFL owners scheduled a special meeting on Aug. 11 in Chicago to discuss updates on plans for new stadiums in home markets with teams looking to relocate including San Diego, St. Louis and Oakland, along with plans for new stadiums in Inglewood and Carson.

Talking to reporters at the May NFL owners meetings in San Francisco, league executive Eric Grubman, the NFL point person for relocation to Los Angeles, said the goal was to determine by late summer or early fall the need to put together an expedited time frame for teams looking to relocate.

Teams interested in filing for relocation have traditionally been able to do it between Jan. 1 and Feb. 15. The meeting will set the table for owners to take action on a project by the NFL owners meetings in New York in October.

During a meeting with San Diego mayor Kevin Faulconer’s citizens’ stadium advisory group, Grubman told the task force the Chargers need to be enthusiastic about the project, and the stadium plan has to be actionable.

“A successful project is built on everyone being enthusiastic about it,” Grubman told San Diego-area reporters in April. “And for everyone to be enthusiastic about it, it has to be something that can get done, and it has to be something that can get funded.”

Enthusiastic was not the word team or league officials used in describing the advisory group’s $1.1 billion finance plan to build a stadium that would replace Qualcomm Stadium at the Mission Valley site.

They believe the money earmarked for the team and the NFL to contribute, which has been projected at close to $900 million according to the National University System Institute for Policy Research, is nowhere near enough to facilitate an actionable plan for the Chargers in San Diego.

Team officials also have concerns that a public vote to secure the public contribution of the project, along with an environmental impact report on the site could take 12 to 18 months, which does not meet the NFL’s deadline to have a shovel-ready project by the end of the calendar year.

Chargers chairman Dean Spanos and Mark Fabiani, the team’s point person on the stadium issue, met with Faulconer, city attorney Jan Goldsmith, county supervisor Ron Roberts and the city’s negotiation team on Tuesday.

But the 75-minute meeting was more of an introductory meet-and-greet for the two sides. And much more work has to be done in order for San Diego to have an actionable stadium plan it can present to the owners in August.

The two sides are scheduled to get together for a second meeting on Monday. After that, team representatives will travel to New York to meet with the owners subcommittee on Los Angeles opportunities to discuss updates to proposed stadium projects in Carson and Inglewood.

Perhaps the best option for San Diego is the NFL gives home markets a one-year reprieve, delaying teams from filing for relocation to Los Angeles in order to allow San Diego, St. Louis and Oakland to put together more fully developed stadium plans in their home markets.

If that does not happen, the city and the Chargers have to put something together quickly in order to meet a rapidly approaching August deadline.