Mayor Kevin Faulconer is going forward with plans to release an expedited environmental review of a new stadium for the San Diego Chargers, the first step before sending the item to a public vote in December.
On June 22, the city announced it was holding a public scoping meeting to allow residents to comment on the environmental impacts of building a new stadium next door to Qualcomm Stadium.
Rushing through the environmental review is one of the promises made by Faulconer to Chargers representative and attorney Mark Fabiani. Negotiations between the city and the Chargers escalated since earlier this year, when news came that the team was considering a move to Carson, outside of Los Angeles. Faulconer responded by creating the Citizens Stadium Advisory Group, which was tasked with finding funding options for a new stadium.
Last month the group released a financing plan that included selling a portion of the current Qualcomm site to help pay the estimated $1.4 billion price tag. In addition to selling off land, the city and county would each contribute $121 million from their respective general funds; the Chargers would be responsible for $300 million, in the form of annual rent payments of $10 million for 30 years.
Hours after Faulconer, San Diego city attorney Jan Goldsmith, and county supervisor Ron Roberts announced their hopes in a June 16 press conference, Fabiani and the team were quick to reject the plan as well as promises from Faulconer to expedite the environmental review in order to meet a January 2016 deadline to have a plan in place.
As reported by Voice of San Diego, the team’s statement read:
"Based on all of this work and discussion, the Chargers have concluded that it is not possible to place a ballot measure before voters in December 2015 in a legally defensible manner given the requirements of the State’s election law and the California Environmental Quality Act. The various options that we have explored with the City’s experts all lead to the same result: Significant time-consuming litigation founded on multiple legal challenges, followed by a high risk of eventual defeat in the courts."
Despite Fabiani's reservations, the city and Faulconer are rushing to complete the environmental review.
Included in the notice were a few details on the proposed new Chargers stadium. If built, the new stadium would seat 68,000 fans during regular-season games. An additional 5000 seats could be added for special events, such as a Super Bowl.
Among some of the issues already identified in the environmental review include traffic impacts and air quality.
Word of a scoping meeting was accompanied with a mass email from longtime San Diego fan Dan Jauregui, also known as "Boltman." In his email, Jauregui urged Faulconer and city attorney Goldsmith to take legal action against the Chargers and Fabiani for refusing to negotiate a new stadium in good faith. By doing so, claims Jauregui, Chargers owner Dean Spanos violated the NFL's constitution.
"The NFL and its club member the San Diego Chargers and owner Dean Spanos have clearly failed in good faith negotiations for the past four months. Mark Fabiani’s disingenuous comments to our mayor, city council, board of supervisors and Citizens Stadium Advisory Group (CSAG) — in addition to his disruptive, toxic, negative presence in all negotiations — have triggered fans to propose that the City of San Diego file a lawsuit against the NFL under the Sherman Antitrust act," reads Boltman's bulletin.
"San Diego city attorney Jan Goldsmith can bring about an injunction for abuse of monopoly power with respect to the NFL’s efforts to artificially control the location of its NFL team owners and failure to negotiate in good faith with the City of San Diego. This is the key argument that the City can argue in a lawsuit complaint."
Minus any future litigation, it appears the city and Faulconer will continue to rush a new stadium to a public vote. Meanwhile, the Chargers will continue to explore their options; at the top of the list appears to be relocating the team to Los Angeles.
The scoping meeting will be held inside the Club #37 suite at Qualcomm Stadium on July 15 at 6 p.m.