Mark Fabiani, point person for the San Diego Chargers' stadium issue, said the organization had its eye on land in Carson, California, for a new stadium proposal for some time, but things heated up in January after St. Louis Rams owner Stan Kroenke announced plans to build an NFL stadium in nearby Inglewood.
"It really ramped up in early January when Stan Kroenke made his move," Fabiani said Thursday. "Obviously, this is a site that's been well-known to the NFL. This was the site in the late 1990s that was the Los Angeles choice for the supposed expansion team that ended up going to Houston. And then subsequent to that, the league has tried to buy the site three separate times. So it's a well-known site.
"The league has always liked it because it's approximate to the Westside of L.A. and it's approximate to Orange County. So it's kind of in the sweet spot of where you want to be in Los Angeles in terms of ticket buyers."
So why did the Chargers announce the proposal for a new stadium in Los Angeles now?
"We really thought that we would have another year of relatively quiet work in San Diego," Fabiani said. "We announced in December that we would not be relocating, and we did not think any other team would be making the move before we were. Obviously, we were proved wrong with Kroenke's actions in January. And so things really ramped up with us and the land in January, and really within the last couple weeks with the Raiders."
Fabiani said although the Chargers and the Oakland Raiders are rivals on the field, the owners and the front offices of the two organizations have had a good relationship off of it. Chargers owner Alex Spanos was brought into the NFL by legendary Raiders owner Al Davis.
Davis served as offensive assistant for the Chargers from 1960 to 1962.
"These are the two California teams that have problems," Fabiani said. "They're the two California teams that have worked hard on solutions, certainly compared to what's happened in St. Louis. You have these two teams in California that have been working on this for years."
What do you say to fans of the Chargers in San Diego?
"It's really no different than what we've been trying to say for the last month and a half, and that is we are out of time," Fabiani said. "Stan Kroenke has forced our hand. We have to protect the future of our business. We have to preserve the quarter of our local revenues that come from L.A. and Orange County. And although we're still trying to get a result that is a positive result in San Diego, we have to for the future of our franchise protect our options. And we've been saying that for weeks."
So ideally the Chargers want to remain in San Diego?
"Absolutely," Fabiani said. "That's always been Dean Spanos' goal, is to keep the team in San Diego. And if we can find an acceptable solution here -- one that is acceptable to the mayor, the Chargers and the NFL -- and, most importantly, one that is acceptable to voters, that's always been our goal. And it remains our goal.
"Now again, we also have been very candid with people. It's been 13 years. This is Year 14. What's going to be different in Year 14 than the prior 13? The barriers are still there, so we have to be candid about that. But at the same time, we're going to keep trying."
What makes the stadium site in Carson more preferable than the one in Inglewood?
"We believe it's the best site, and the NFL has always loved the site," Fabiani said. "First of all, there's a lot of space on the land, so you can do whatever you want to create a great fan experience on game day. It's not going to be part of another development. It's not going to be something that has joint uses. It's going to be solely devoted to the fan experience on game day.
"It's easily accessible from L.A. and Orange County. It's easily accessible from the freeway systems. There will be ample parking. And inevitably in Los Angeles, if the stadium gets built there's going to be two teams in the stadium. That was always I think a given. If ever there was a stadium built, there were going to be two teams in it. That's just the reality of the world. And two teams make it much easier to finance. That's not brain surgery."