SAN DIEGO (CBS 8/CNS) - The Chargers and the city missed a deadline to reach an agreement on a stadium plan that would lead to a public vote in January.
Friday marked a "bittersweet" moment for the team, according to special counsel Mark Fabiani.
Friday was considered to be the last day San Diego and the Chargers can forge an agreement in time to have the City Attorney's Office draft a ballot measure and get it approved by the City Council in time to hold a special election.
City officials said the deadline could be fudged slightly if the Chargers rushed in at the 11th hour to propose a deal, which is considered highly unlikely.
The Chargers ended stadium negotiations in June after objecting to the city's expedited timeline, which produced an environmental impact report much faster than usual. Team special counsel Mark Fabiani contended the study would not pass legal muster and, in an email to City News Service Thursday, said his opinion hadn't changed.
"Unfortunately the quickie EIR is not like a fine wine; it doesn't get better with age," Fabiani said.
"On the contrary, the more time you spend with the EIR, the worse it looks," he said. "So our position remains the same as it has been since mid-June -- the city has made a fateful mistake by basing its entire offer to the team and the NFL on a quickie EIR that is fatally flawed and that will almost certainly be thrown out by the courts after several years of litigation."
Mayor Kevin Faulconer, county Supervisor Ron Roberts and City Attorney Jan Goldsmith created the hastened timeline because the league is poised to make decisions about relocating a team to the Los Angeles area as early as this fall, and probably no later than January. They've said the quick EIR is valid because a project would simply replace existing Qualcomm Stadium, so the impacts are already known.
Fabiani outlined a series of missed opportunities that could have led to a deal, including former Mayor Jerry Sanders rejecting a joint stadium convention center project downtown.
Fabiani also cited current Mayor Kevin Faulconer's appointment of a task force to study the stadium issue instead of immediately beginning negotiations, and moving ahead with an expedited environmental study of the proposed Mission Valley site.
"As a result, we stand here with our fate in the hands of the NFL owners," said Fabiani.
"While it's no surprise that the Chargers have allowed today's deadline to pass for a January 12 special election, San Diego can still hold a public
vote on a new stadium during the normal election cycle in June or November -- if Chargers ownership is willing to work in good faith with their hometown," the mayor said.
In answering media questions after his talk, Fabiani refused to speculate on when or whether the Chargers might return to the negotiating
Faulconer, county Supervisor Ron Roberts and City Attorney Jan Goldsmith have said the quick EIR is valid because a project would simply replace existing Qualcomm Stadium, so the impacts are already known.
The Chargers have been wanting a new stadium for nearly 15 years and have acquired land in Carson, an L.A. suburb, to build their own stadium -- possibly in concert with the Oakland Raiders -- in case they can't make a deal in San Diego.
St. Louis Rams owner Stan Kroenke, meanwhile, is planning to build a stadium in Inglewood, another Los Angeles County city. NFL owners will have to decide if all, some or none of the teams will be allowed to move into the potentially lucrative Los Angeles market, which has been without a franchise for more than 20 years.
The likely passage of the deadline won't come as a surprise to San Diego officials, who have told CNS that the June primary and November general elections are available for a ballot measure if the two sides can regroup.
SIDE NOTES: If you're headed to the big game against the Detroit Lions at Qualcomm Stadium on Sunday, NFL policy this year limits the size and type of bags that may be brought into stadiums - only clear plastic, vinyl or PVC bags are allowed.
You can also bring a one gallon clear Ziploc bag or something similar. Small clutch bags about the size of your hand will also be allowed.
For fans driving to the game, the parking lot opens at 9:00 a.m. Sunday. It's 4 hours before kickoff. There will be extra trolleys available for public transportation. For more information on trolley availability, click here.