Chargers Official: Stadium Talks Back On With San Diego
With Chula Vista no longer an option for a new football stadium for the Chargers, a contender both new and old could be emerging to keep the Bolts in town -- the city of San Diego, a team official said today.
The local NFL franchise wants a new facility to replace aging Qualcomm Stadium but has failed to forge deals in San Diego, Chula Vista, National City or Oceanside.
A provision in the team's lease allows them time to look into moving to other cities, but the window has closed for this year. Pre-season training camp opens next month.
After several years of riding pine due to financial problems and political opposition, the city of San Diego is back in the conversation, said Chargers special counsel Mark Fabiani.
The Chargers have held more discussions with San Diego officials in the past four months than during the entire four years of Mike Aguirre's tenure as city attorney, Fabiani said.
City employees appear to feel free to talk now that Aguirre is out of office, he said.
"People are talking, people are interested. Nothing has jelled," Fabiani said.
He said the "preliminary ideas" brought forth include property east of Petco Park, and another look at part of the Tenth Avenue Marine Terminal.
Renewed interest by the city stems from financial losses being taken at the current stadium in Mission Valley, which sits empty except for football games and occasional special events, he said. The land could raise a substantial amount of money if sold.
Darren Pudgil of Mayor Jerry Sanders' office said no sites have been taken off the table.
"There have been some informal talks between the city and the Chargers," Pudgil said. "Those will continue. The mayor is committed to finding a home for the Chargers somewhere in the San Diego region."
The Chargers are currently studying 90 acres along state Route 76 in Oceanside that was once home to the Valley Drive-In.
That site has complications, in that it's close to a municipal airport and a developer has been granted a permit to build 950,000 square feet of commercial space there.
"Our view is it's worth exploring," Fabiani said.
He said the team's courtship with Chula Vista ran into multiple problems.
The team's leading booster on the city council in Chula Vista, John McCann, is deploying to Iraq next month with the Naval Reserves for one year.
A plan to replace a power plant at the proposed bayfront site was denied recently by the state Public Utilities Commission, Fabiani said.
"Without that bayfront site being available, there's not much more we can do," Fabiani said.
He also said the Chula Vista City Council voted this week to disband a Chargers sub-committee.
Chula Vista could return as a prospective site if the bayfront power plant is shut down, he said.
Fabiani cautioned that every proposed site will have some obstacles. The economic conditions are also a barrier, but Dean Spanos, the team president, would like to find a site now with hope that the markets are improved by the time financing is needed, he said.