Does a memorandum the National Football League sent its 32 teams late Friday give the Chargers an open door to seek a new home in Los Angeles?
The document has kicked off plenty of speculation about that.
But how do the Bolts read it?
Sam Farmer, the Los Angeles Times sportswriter who broke the story on the NFL'S newly issued rules regarding relocation to the LA market, wrote that the memo "surely resonated with the San Diego Chargers," among other franchises looking for new stadiums.
But on Monday, the Chargers’ special counsel told NBC 7 San Diego that it doesn't ‘move the sticks' any closer to a 'field of dreams' for the Bolts beyond San Diego's city limits.
“We saw it simply as a re-affirmation of things that the commissioner and the league were saying for a long time,” said Mark Fabiani, who’s been advising the Chargers on stadium issues for roughly a decade.
Among the salient points, Fabiani says: “You can’t move to L.A. without a permanent facility. That if you move, you’d better expect there to be a second team moving there at some point in the near future after you move. And, the NFL is clearly in charge of the L.A. market -- and anybody that thinks otherwise should read this memo.”
As reported by Farmer, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell wants applications from teams who want to move to the Los Angeles market – where two new stadium proposals are in play -- to be submitted between Jan. 1 and Feb. 15 next year.
One of the caveats, according to Farmer, is that the teams must evaluate all opportunities in their existing markets, and consult with the league on them.
"No memo from the NFL can change the basic fact that until there's a stadium that's finished and ready to go,” Fabiani said, “and until there's a team that wants to play in it, nothing's going to happen in LA."
The Bolts are still waiting for the city's financial consultants to issue cost and funding projections in September, and for a variety of other factors to play out -- such as the future of the proposed expansion of the San Diego Convention Center, a few blocks from the Chargers’ target stadium site in downtown’s East Village, which faces potentially lengthy legal and regulatory processes.
On a parallel track, the Bolts have been pushing a multi-use facility with a retractable cover that could host a range of major sporting and convention events.
"We're also watching very closely the mayor's race, to see how that turns out and what positions the candidates take," Fabiani added.
As for mayoral politics, the spin put forth by the two general election finalists vying to be San Diego's next mayor doesn't sound all that Chargers-friendly.
Here are excerpts of their remarks made during NBC 7 San Diego’s pre-primary election debate on May 20th:
- “You know, we have a billionaire owner of a team which makes hundreds of millions of dollars,” said U.S. Rep. Bob Filner. “And they’re asking for about $1 billion from the taxpayers of San Diego. I say no. No more extortion by the teams that have given us really rotten deals … no public funding.”
- Said City Councilman Carl DeMaio: “As it relates to the Chargers, I’m going to take a business person’s approach. We've always been hosed by these deals because politicians have never had to negotiate a complex business arrangement.”
On Monday, those statements were recounted to Fred Maas, Mayor Sanders’ special assistant on sports and entertainment complex district issues, who parsed his words carefully.
“You know, there’s a lot of bravado that’s raised in campaigns, and I expect when people see the opportunities and potential loss of the team … whoever becomes mayor will impose some reasonableness,” Maas said.
“I think it’s better not to stoke and fires and let time pass … this mayor's race – which will be elevated, and has a lot of background noise -- is not the perfect environment to negotiate anything. But we're all aware of that, and we're working diligently with them and the Chargers to find a solution that works."
As it is, the Chargers have an annual three-month 'window' between Feb. 1 and May 1 to trigger the 'out' clause in their lease at Qualcomm Stadium, which ends in 2020.
Right now, Fabiani said, their early termination fee is around $23 million dollars, and counting downward.