City, county unite to keep Chargers

SAN DIEGO -- Mayor Kevin Faulconer announced Thursday that the city and county will collaborate on an agreement allowing the two government entities to hire a high-powered negotiation team, expert attorneys and an investment banker to facilitate future talks on a stadium deal with the San Diego Chargers.

The expert consultants, Faulconer said, will help vet a conceptual finance plan for a stadium proposal at the Mission Valley site recommended by the citizens' stadium advisory group that he should receive by May 20.

Faulconer said the group will split the costs for the consultants, which could exceed $500,000.

"This partnership helps make it official, that the entire San Diego region is united," Faulconer said. "We are coming together, and there is real progress that is being made."

In 1964, the city and county collaborated on the financing and construction of Qualcomm Stadium. This group hopes to achieve the same thing with a replacement facility for the Chargers.

The collaboration between the city and county is an important one because the county carries a triple-A credit rating and hundreds of millions in reserves, allowing the government agency to help serve as a financier for any stadium deal.

The group did not set a timetable on when it would have an official proposal to present to the team.

Faulconer was joined by San Diego county supervisors Ron Roberts and Dianne Jacob for the announcement.

"We want to have a positive result," Roberts said, "but we also want to have a fair result. We want something that the residents of our communities will feel comfortable and take some pride in. And we want to end up with a new stadium here."

Jacob, a longtime Chargers season-ticket holder, said that while she wants the team to stay, she is also interested in getting a fair deal that protects taxpayers.

"I love the Chargers," Jacob said, "but I have to look at this as a business decision first, just exactly like the Chargers would. I said for years, and I'll say it again: If county government puts skin into the game, we must make sure that any agreement with the Chargers is a good deal for taxpayers. And that's my bottom line."

Jacob said she would like to see more than an NFL stadium at the Qualcomm site -- a world-class entertainment venue in partnership with San Diego State and the San Diego River conservancy.

"I understand the economic benefit of keeping the Bolts in this city," said council member Myrtle Cole, chairwoman of the council's economic development committee. "We want a stadium that residents can be proud of and can successfully compete for world-class sporting and entertainment events."

Faulconer said he remains committed to a public vote, which will not require a two-thirds majority, on any stadium proposal and that it will not require any new taxes.

He also said any stadium proposal San Diego generates will be "more than competitive" with the team's proposal to share a $1.7 billion NFL stadium with the Oakland Raiders in Carson, California.

Eric Grubman, the league's point man on relocation, is expected to travel to San Diego and speak with the stadium advisory group April 7. Faulconer said the last time he spoke to Chargers team president Dean Spanos was several weeks ago.

"It's extremely important," Faulconer said when asked about the NFL's involvement in San Diego's stadium effort. "I had a very productive conversation with Commissioner Goodell a couple weeks ago. He's going to be sending out Mr. Grubman from the NFL, and he's going to be meeting with the citizens' group. There's some very positive momentum, and they will be able to see firsthand what we are doing as combined city and county to have a plan that is real."

San Diego city attorney Jan Goldsmith believes the Chargers will stay true to their word and work to get something done that keeps the team in town.

"We expect the Chargers to sit down and negotiate in good faith and work with us hard on this deal, as they have said they would do," Goldsmith said. "And so we look forward to them doing that with us."