SAN DIEGO (CNS) - The City Council voted Monday to spend $2.1 million on an environmental study on a proposed football stadium in Mission Valley -- part of San Diego's efforts to keep the Chargers in town.
The 6-3 vote appropriates $1.2 million for environmental consultant AECOM Technical Services Inc., with an additional $380,000 for city staff time and $200,000 for a conceptual stadium design. The rest will be held for contingencies.
Mayor Kevin Faulconer told the council that the study was a "crucial" step toward scheduling a public vote in January, around the time when the National Football League might vote on whether to bring a team back to Los Angeles -- the nation's second-largest market.
Christopher Melvin of Nixon Peabody, the consulting firm hired by the city and county of San Diego to engage in negotiations with the Chargers, said the NFL was "focused" on an accelerated environmental impact report process that would allow for the public vote.
"We committed to the NFL that the city and the county of San Diego are highly motivated to keeping the Chargers in San Diego," Melvin said.
"The NFL appreciates that -- they recognized the commitment of the city and the county -- and they encouraged us to move the ball forward, to continue our work such that we would be able to have that vote in January," Melvin said.
City and county officials and their negotiating team have been in contact with the NFL even though the Chargers strongly oppose the faster EIR time frame. According to Melvin, NFL officials are coming to San Diego on July 28, and will allow the city to make a presentation to owners at an Aug. 10 meeting.
The Chargers have wanted a new stadium for nearly 15 years and have acquired land in the Los Angeles County suburb of Carson to build a facility jointly with the Oakland Raiders.
An advisory group formed by the mayor earlier this year recommended construction of a 65,000-seat facility adjacent to the current Qualcomm Stadium, which would be leveled to make way for development. The task force also came up with ways to generate $1.4 billion to fund the project.
The mayor's office confirmed today that one of those funding sources is no longer on the table. The city and county will not depend on ancillary development to fund construction of a new stadium, according to the mayor's office.
Council members David Alvarez, Marti Emerald and Todd Gloria cast the dissenting votes.
Alvarez said he opposed spending $2 million when the financing plan wasn't spelled out.
Emerald said the city needs to focus its attention on neighborhoods and services, with millions of dollars needed for municipal facilities, repairing roads and bridges, building parks and investing in public safety.
"The Chargers say they want no part of this and I say it's time to listen -- take them seriously and let them go to Carson," Emerald said. "Let them wrangle for a spot in the Los Angeles NFL market, and if they don't get it, they'll come back."
According to Gloria, San Diego has been "getting played" throughout the stadium process, and the EIR gets the city no closer to keeping the team.
If the league adheres to its own policies, the Raiders would be the team that returns to Los Angeles because San Diego and St. Louis have made "good faith" efforts to keep their teams, Gloria said.
City officials said that even if the Chargers do move, Qualcomm Stadium remains a liability, costing $10 million a year in maintenance. A new facility would have to be constructed for San Diego State University, the Holiday and Poinsettia bowls, and special events like international soccer matches, an eventuality that would be covered in the environmental study.
A state $2.1 million reimbursement to the city that was received in July, but not budgeted, will cover the expense.