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Chargers and Raiders Join Forces with Carson Community Group to Support New Los Angeles NFL Stadium
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The Chargers announced that the team is joining with the Oakland Raiders and a broad-based coalition of Carson community, business and labor leaders – called “Carson2gether” – to support a ballot measure that would entitle a 168-acre site in Carson for a new Los Angeles-area NFL stadium.
Chargers.com sat down with Mark Fabiani, the team’s Special Counsel and long-time point person on stadium issues, to ask him what the announcement by the Chargers and Raiders means.
We started with the obvious question:
Does the team’s decision to support the ballot measure mean that the Chargers have decided to leave San Diego?
Fabiani’s response: No. The team’s support for the Carson2gether stadium initiative does not mean that the Chargers will relocate to Los Angeles. What the announcement does mean is that we are keeping our options open – in case there is still no solution for a new stadium in San Diego, and in case the efforts of others to take over the L.A. market continue to progress unabated. Simply put, our hand has been forced, and we have no choice but to take this action.
In the meantime, we are continuing for the 14th year to work for a stadium solution in San Diego. We have already met with the newly appointed City Task Force, and we have created an online database to share with the Task Force all of the key information the Chargers have gathered over the last 14 years of work. The Chargers are also working to set a meeting between the Task Force and NFL officials.
Q: If the team hasn’t decided to relocate, why is the team supporting this Los Angeles stadium initiative now?
A: For 14 years the Chargers have done everything possible to find a stadium solution in San Diego County. Through a decade-long period that saw seven different mayors in San Diego, the team presented nine separate proposals for a new stadium in the City of San Diego and in other, smaller cities throughout San Diego County.
During that same period of time, the Chargers worked hard to build its business in Los Angeles and Orange Counties – areas that have been without NFL teams for the last two decades. The team has been successful in its efforts: 25 percent of the Team’s season ticket members now come from LA and Orange Counties and we are in many ways Southern California’s team.
It’s important to note that, over the team’s 14 years of work, its business was never seriously threatened by the possible relocation of another NFL team or teams.
The situation dramatically changed last month, in January, when another owner launched a ballot measure campaign to build an NFL stadium in Inglewood.
Simply put, these actions in Inglewood have forced the hand of the Chargers. To protect the franchise’s future economic viability, the Chargers have no choice but to act decisively to preserve all of the team’s options, both in Los Angeles and in San Diego.
It would be untenable to have one and potentially two teams in Los Angeles, while the Chargers are left to continue playing at Qualcomm – with no alternative in sight. The team’s economic future would be jeopardized.
That is why the Chargers have chosen to support the Carson2gether initiative campaign – to preserve all of our options and ensure that we have a certain path to protecting the long-term viability of the franchise.
Q: When you say that the Chargers are supporting the Carson2gether effort, what does that mean, exactly?
A: The Chargers have helped to obtain control of the Carson stadium site, and team representatives have provided legal and financing advice, along with stadium design and development expertise. And we will be providing support for the ballot measure effort.
Q: What are the next steps in this process?
A: The Chargers will continue to work in San Diego to find a stadium solution, including work with the Mayor’s new Task Force.
In Carson, the Carson2gether group will begin to gather signatures to qualify its own measure for the ballot. Once a sufficient number of signatures are gathered and verified, the ballot measure will be presented to the Carson City Council for consideration.
Q: With all of the other L.A. stadium opportunities available to the Chargers over the years – from Ed Roski’s site in the City of Industry to the AEG site in downtown L.A. – why have the Chargers chosen to focus on the Carson site now?
A: The Carson site has long been of interest to the NFL, dating back to the 1990s when Los Angeles was competing for an expansion franchise. The site is ideally located, with easy access from both Los Angeles and Orange Counties, and within a 90-minute drive from the Inland Empire and San Diego County. The site is also quite large and will allow the architects and designers to create an extraordinary, fun, and spacious environment for fans on game day. In short, we believe that – if we are unable to find a solution in our home market – the Carson site is quite simply the most fan-friendly option available anywhere in the L.A. area.
Q: So what do you say to all of those Chargers fans who will conclude, based on this news, that -- even though you won’t say so officially – the team is destined to relocate to Los Angeles after the 2015 season?
A: We hope that our fans understand how hard everyone in the Chargers organization has worked for the last 14 years to find a stadium solution here in San Diego. We will be continuing that work with the Mayor’s new Task Force throughout the remainder of 2015, and of course, as we already announced last December, the team is committed to playing its 2015 home games at Qualcomm Stadium.
We also hope that our fans appreciate that there must be full compliance with the NFL rules governing relocation before any relocation can occur. Most importantly, three-fourths of the 32 NFL owners must approve a team’s relocation application. The Chargers haven’t decided to relocate and haven’t filed a relocation application.
Finally, we hope our fans understand that, to preserve the future economic viability of our franchise, we finally had no choice but to counter the moves made in Inglewood. Our hand has been forced and we have an obligation to preserve all options going forward.
Q: The announcement indicates that the proposed stadium in Carson would be 100% financed with stadium-generated revenues. If the Chargers can finance a stadium in Los Angeles without public tax dollars, why can’t the team do the same thing here in San Diego?
A: A stadium can be financed in Los Angeles because the LA-Orange County-Inland Empire marketplace is able to support the sale of hundreds of millions of dollars of Personal Seat Licenses (PSLs) or Stadium Builder Licenses (SBLs). These licenses provide a significant amount of funding for the stadium project, as the City of Santa Clara and the 49ers recently demonstrated with the public-private partnership and the record-breaking SBL sales that helped make possible the financing of Levi’s Stadium.
In addition, the LA-Orange County-Inland Empire area is the second-largest media market in the country, and as a result, revenues from the sale of naming rights, advertising, and sponsorships will be significantly larger than they would be in San Diego. Taken together, simple economic realities make a financing reliant solely on stadium-generated revenues possible in a large market such as Los Angeles.
Unfortunately, we do not have the same economic reality in San Diego; if we did, a new stadium in San Diego would have already been built.
Q: You say that the Chargers have not made a decision to relocate to Los Angeles. Can you tell us when you expect such a decision to be made, one way or the other?
A: The relocation process is governed entirely by the NFL owners, and the Chargers will continue to be fully respectful of the NFL’s established governance process. We will also continue to work to find a permanent stadium solution here in San Diego. In the end, the team’s decision about whether to relocate or not will be guided by the NFL’s owners and by evaluating which option best preserves the long-term economic viability of the Chargers franchise. While a lot can change between now and then, we expect there will be a decision, one way or the other, by the end of the 2015 NFL season. Read