The San Diego Chargers are working with the Oakland Raiders on a proposal to build a $1.7 billion NFL stadium in the Los Angeles area, Chargers’ special counsel Mark Fabiani confirmed to NBC 7 Thursday.
Both teams will still seek new stadiums in San Diego and Oakland, but if the deals fall through, they want a backup in Carson, California. After 14 years of seeking a new San Diego stadium, the Chargers have set a deadline for the city: end of the year. If they can't get a local option then, they'll move forward with a shared stadium.
"We are pursuing this stadium option in Carson for one straightforward reason: If we cannot find a permanent solution in our home markets, we have no alternative but to preserve other options to guarantee the future economic viability of our franchises," said the teams in a joint statement.
"Carson2gether," a civic, business and labor coalition, are expected to announce the plan at a news conference Friday at 10 a.m. at a Carson community center. Just as San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer wants to bring a stadium proposal to local voters, Carson2gether wants to launch a petition drive to get the project on the LA-area ballot.
Fabiani said the Chargers have been formulating the plan with the Raiders since January. Architect David Manica, who worked on stadiums and arenas in Houston, San Francisco and more, has created the designs for the Carson proposal. Built on a recently acquired 168-acre site, the new stadium would hold up to 72,000 seats, according to Carson2gether.
The team started turning up the heat on San Diego leaders after St. Louis Rams owner Stan Kroenke announced his intentions to build a stadium in Inglewood.
"That was a move that changed everything for the Chargers," Fabiani said, "because 25 percent of our business comes from Los Angeles and Orange counties."
He told NBC 7 if one or two teams moved into the Southern California area, it would eviscerate the Chargers' business. Had the Rams owner not made that move, Fabiani said the Chargers could have spent another year working on a San Diego solution to the stadium conundrum.
Since there is little to no chance the NFL would approve moving three teams to the LA area, the Chargers and Raiders are now in a race against time to get their plan in place before the Rams can finalize theirs.
The only other teams to share a stadium in the NFL are the New York Jets and Giants, which do not play in the same conference. Their new stadium played host to the Super Bowl in 2014. As football fans know, not only are the Chargers and Raiders in the same conference, they are both in the AFC West Division.
Mayor Faulconer had a stern response to the surprise news Thursday night, saying in a statement, "It's now abundantly clear that while we have been working here in San Diego to create a plan for a new stadium, the Chargers have for some time been making their own plans for moving to Los Angeles. This would amount to abandoning generations of loyal Chargers fans. Despite this news, we are going to continue our efforts to develop a viable stadium solution."
Fabiani did not see it the same way.
"We were very candid, I think, with the people of San Diego for months now that we needed to keep our options open because of what the Rams owner did," he said.
The Chargers have recently been in a public spat with the city after Faulconer appointed a nine-member citizens' stadium advisory group, charged with weighing the best locations for a new Chargers stadium.
The group and team met for the first time Monday. The next day, Fabiani fired off an open letter to the mayor, questioning the legal and practical role of political advisers on the task force.
Faulconer sent out his public response later that afternoon, criticizing Fabiani for a "divisive tone." He said the counsel's criticism is getting in the way of finding a new place for the Chargers.
The advisory group's Chairman Adam Day joined the fray Thursday evening after news of the Chargers-Raiders plan broke.
"This news came as a complete surprise to the Advisory Group, and while it's disappointing to hear the Chargers are moving forward with plans in Los Angeles, we remain committed to finding a solution in San Diego," said Day in a statement. "We're working toward selecting a site and developing a financing plan for a stadium, and we're going to stay focused on that."
Fabiani announced the team is still committed to working with the task force, but he has not seen any results and is not guaranteed any.
To finalize any moves, three-fourths of the NFL owners must approve a relocation. Both the Raiders and Chargers have have kept the NFL owners’ committee on Los Angeles and the commissioner fully informed about their efforts, they said.
The Chargers are committed to staying in Qualcomm Stadium through 2015. Since 2007, the team has had the option to not renew their lease every Feb. 1, but they signed on for another year in December 2014.