The professional football season is nearing a wrap and the campaign for San Diego mayor is ramping up, time yet again for another push by La Jolla real estate maven, Republican money-man, and U-T San Diego publisher Douglas Manchester for a new taxpayer-subsidized Chargers stadium.
And, judging by recent reports from Los Angeles, along with a campaign financing disclosure filed over the weekend by Democratic Gov. Jerry Brown, a familiar cast of L.A. area superrich will likely surface once more as Manchester's bogeymen, threatening to steal the team for La La Land.
U-T kicked off its latest scrimmage on the final day of November, with an editorial entitled "A new stadium for San Diego: It is time."
U-T San Diego ownership believes it is time, for the benefit of residents countywide, that a new multipurpose stadium be built in a private-public partnership.
The U-T Editorial Board in coming weeks will publish commentaries making the case for a new stadium. We will examine potential sites and the combination of facilities that should be built in conjunction with the stadium.
We will also explain in broad terms how a stadium might be financed without breaking the backs of taxpayers.
Whomever [the] mayor is can expect us to challenge him from Day One to work with the City Council, the business community, the Spanoses and the NFL, community groups and other stakeholders to get it done.
The new Manchester campaign comes on the heels of tales from Los Angeles about new Democratic mayor Eric Garcetti diving into the thick of that city's longstanding NFL intrigue, as reported by the L.A. Weekly.
Garcetti met in L.A. with Philip Anschutz, the head of AEG, who is still trying to bring an NFL team to Los Angeles.
Anschutz' firm, AEG, first announced plans to build a downtown football stadium nearly three years ago, to great fanfare.
But after winning approval from City Hall for Farmers Field, along with an expedited environmental process from the state Legislature, the deal stalled.
Garcetti took the helm in July, and according to the L.A. Weekly, an aide said then that getting a football team was "not a priority."
But Anschutz, a Denver-based billionaire, has continued to work on the deal in his own quiet way.
In early September, Anschutz reached out to the mayor's office to update Garcetti on the situation.
The two talked over the phone on Sept. 11, and arranged an in-person meeting during Anschutz’s next visit to L.A. On Oct. 8, Anschutz brought to City Hall Dan Beckerman, the new CEO of AEG, and Ted Fikre, an AEG vice president.
Garcetti brought Glyn Milburn, a former NFL kick returner who now works in the mayor's Office of Economic Development. The next day, Milburn wrote an email to Fikre, thanking him for the meeting and saying "it is our hope that we can accomplish the goal of bringing football back to Los Angeles."
Whether or not anything emerges from Garcetti's putative bromance with Republican Anschutz, on November 23 the Anschutz Corporation made a $50,000 contribution to the reelection campaign of Democratic governor Brown.
Three days later, Majestic Realty Company, run by billionaire Ed Roski, who has long aspired to build an NFL stadium in the City of Industry, kicked in $54,400 for Brown.
Even more than a mayor, a governor can do big favors for any NFL hopeful who catches his fancy; two years ago, Brown signed a bill to "streamline" state-mandated environmental review of the Anschutz project. Brown's predecessor, GOP governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, earlier did the same for Roski.
In the subsidy and infrastructure battle to come, Brown could play a key role in handing out plenty of public money and regulatory approvals to advance the cause of his Los Angeles patrons.
Brown is likely to do no overt favors for longtime GOP kingpin Manchester, and, for that matter, San Diego, generally, other than to perhaps raise the perceived threat level of moving the Chargers from San Diego.
Skeptics argue that may be just what Manchester and the wealthy NFL owners need in a coming high pressure attempt to scare voters into approving a costly new stadium project here.
The governor's latest political foray into the city by the border, an endorsement of newly hatched Democrat Nathan Fletcher for mayor, ended with a third-place finish by Fletcher.
That effort was largely a production of La Jolla Democratic billionaire Irwin Jacobs, who had given heavily to the successful 2012 campaign for Brown's Proposition 30 tax hike measure.
Whether any of the recent public jousting is real, or the stadium game has already been fixed by the NFL behind closed doors, remains to be seen.