<![CDATA[NBC 7 San Diego - San Diego Sports News, Photos, and Scores for the Padres, Chargers and More]]> Copyright 2015 http://www.nbcsandiego.com/news/sports http://media.nbcbayarea.com/designimages/KNSD+RSS+Feed+logo+blue.png NBC 7 San Diego http://www.nbcsandiego.com en-us Mon, 02 Mar 2015 07:07:41 -0800 Mon, 02 Mar 2015 07:07:41 -0800 NBC Owned Television Stations <![CDATA[White Sox Legend Minnie Minoso Dies]]> Sun, 01 Mar 2015 16:17:07 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/minnie+minoso+sox.jpg

White Sox legend Minnie Minoso, affectionately known as the "Cuban Comet," died Saturday night at 90 years old.

Minoso died of natural causes related to chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, according to the Cook County medical examiner's office.

The Cuban-born Minoso was the first black player for the South Side baseball team. He is a nine-time All-Star outfielder and Gold Glove winner.

Minoso made his debut at Comiskey Park in 1951, and his play time with the team spanned four decades. He was named as a candidate for induction into baseball's Hall of Fame in 2012 but was denied last year.

In tweet after his death, the White Sox said, "Minnie Minoso -- Mr. #WhiteSox -- has died. Tears of sadness are falling for a great man."

The Minoso family confirmed the death Sunday afternoon in a statement to the press.

"Minnie lived a full life of joy and happiness, surrounded always by friends and family," the family said. "It is during moments like these that love matters most. Minnie enjoyed nothing more than to be at the ballpark cheering on his White Sox. For Minnie, every day was a reason to smile."

Minoso appeared in a total of 1,835 career games over 17 major-league seasons with Cleveland, the White Sox, St. Louis and Washington.

Minoso's influence reached far beyond the baseball stadium. As the first black Major League player in Chicago, he served as an inspiration to countless young people, including President Barack Obama.

"Minnie may  have been passed over by the Baseball Hall of Fame during his lifetime, but for me and for generations of black and Latino young people, Minnie's quintessentially American story embodies far more than a plaque ever could," the president said in a statement.

Governor Bruce Rauner called Minoso "a trailblazer, a leader and an extraordinary baseball player."

In Chicago, Mayor Rahm Emanuel said Minoso's "infectious enthusiasm forever solidified his place as a Chicago icon for the ages."

The Chicago Cubs also released a statement expressing their condolences for the White Sox.

"Having recently lost one of our all-time greats Ernie Banks, we share the heartache with the White Sox organization and fans everywhere who were blessed to enjoy the talent, heart and passion of Mr. White Sox," the North Side team said. "He will be forever known as an electric offensive player and great ambassador for the game of baseball."

According to the Chicago White Sox, Minoso once talked about wearing his Sox uniform till the day he died -- and even afterward.

"When I die, I want to be playing baseball," Minoso said. "Truly. They don't bury me without my uniform. If I die, I die happy because I was wearing No. 9 for the White Sox."

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Padres Spring Training: Wil Myers]]> Sun, 01 Mar 2015 11:33:45 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/WIL_MYERS_OK_1200x675_406146627897.jpg Wil Myers arrived in the Major Leagues in June of 2013. He only played 88 games but was so good, he won the American League Rookie of the Year Award for Tampa Bay. Last year, Myers suffered a pair of wrist injuries and saw his numbers plummet, opening the possibility for the Rays to trade him to the Padres and complete the Friars’ new-look outfield. At the Padres Spring Training complex in Peoria, AZ, NBC 7’s Derek Togerson went 1 on 1 with Myers to talk about his new surroundings, new team mates, and new expectations.]]> <![CDATA[Padres Spring Training: Quentin Reinventing Himself]]> Sun, 01 Mar 2015 09:58:44 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/165*120/GettyImages_495662115.jpg

Nobody has ever doubted Carlos Quentin’s ability to play baseball. The problem has been his ability to play baseball.

Quentin’s talent and impact are undeniable. The 2-time All-Star simply hasn’t been able to stay healthy. Since joining the Padres in 2012, Quentin has never played more than 86 games. In his 9-year career, he’s never played more than 131 games. Injuries have wiped out the rest.

But, Quentin still has lots of baseball left in him.

“I still feel I can be productive,” says Quentin. “The ball still comes off my bat, yes.”

The San Diego native watched in the off-season as the Padres added piece after piece and morphed in to playoff contenders.

“The city of San Diego should be extremely excited,” says Quentin. “The new ownership really changed things. They really brought in a lot of different guys and I think the city is really responding. There’s a buzz around town.”

The problem for Carlos is a lot of the guys who came in (Matt Kemp, Justin Upton and Wil Myers) play Quentin’s position. So, the outfielder was subject to trade rumors. Would an American League team bring him on to be a designated hitter? But, there is another option: Switching positions.

Quentin brought a first baseman’s glove to Arizona for the first time in his career. The change seems to have rejuvenated him.

“Yeah, I mean I’m enjoying learning a new position. My entire career I’ve been an outfielder. I’ve played outfield since high school (at Cathedral Catholic). It’s a lot of fun to do something different.”

The footwork at first base is much different, and can be taxing on the knees, but so far Quentin has had no issues with the move.

“The footwork is different, but everything’s different. It’s the infield. You’ve got to be prepared for the ball every single time. It’s actually easier to focus because you’re focusing every time the pitch is thrown. In the outfield you’ve really got to work on staying focused because you might not get the ball the entire game.”

"He's doing fine," said Padres manager Bud Black. "He's getting his grounders, he's getting all the subtleties of the position, he's learning our bunt plays, he's learning the cutoff and relay system. Carlos is a sharp guy. He knows baseball. He's working hard at it, so it's been fun for him."

For now, Yonder Alonso is penciled in as the starting first baseman. But he’s been working more and more at third base, as well, which might open up a little more playing time for Quentin, adding one more bat with 30 home run pop to the Padres already potent lineup.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[San Diego Padres Manager Balances Busy Schedule]]> Sun, 01 Mar 2015 11:18:57 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/185*120/GettyImages_481616417.jpg

Padres manager Bud Black is a busy man.

Aside from team meetings, scouting reports, in-game management, meeting with players individually when necessary, filling out lineup cards, meeting with team doctors to get injury updates, and throwing batting practice, Buddy meets with the media. He meets with the media a lot.

Amazingly, in each one (with only very few exceptions) he shows patience and humor, which is crazy when you see the full breakdown:

  • About 50 scheduled times during Spring Training.
  • Add around 10 or so more for national or 1-on-1 interviews.
  • In-season he holds a media session before and after every game for a total of 324.
  • Plus about 10 for random workouts, player acquisition press conferences, and awards banquets.
  • About 30 radio interviews.

That gives us a grand total of…424 media meetings every year (give or take a dozen). Buddy did not know that number specifically, but he did explain how he does what he does...

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Padres Spring Training: Get to Know Matt Kemp]]> Sat, 28 Feb 2015 12:17:04 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/WEB_Get_To_Know_Matt_Kemp_NBC_RSH-MCDS_1200x675_405923395995.jpg The first major move the Padres made in their whirlwind off-season was trading for Dodgers outfielder Matt Kemp. The All-Star and MVP runner-up was not very well liked by Padres fans. But, he’s quickly winning over the Friar Faithful, who are pinning their hopes to the slugging star having a sensational season. NBC 7’s Derek Togerson talked 1 on 1 with Kemp to see how he views himself as a leader, and just how good he thinks his new team can be.]]> <![CDATA[Padres Spring Training: First Pitcher Is Revealed]]> Sat, 28 Feb 2015 10:37:05 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/167*120/GettyImages_452851902.jpg

Padres manager Bud Black shared a secret on Saturday morning. We now know who the team's opening day starter will be. The Cactus League opening day starter, that is.

Left-handed reliever Jason Lane will take the ball when the Padres play the Mariners in their annual charity game on Wednesday. Among the reasons for the decision is Lane is one of the closest guys on the staff to being game-ready.

Minor league prospect Justin Hancock is also scheduled to throw in the exhibition opener.

As for the regular season Opening Day starter, that's still up in the air. Now, this is purely speculative, but the guy who gets the ball on Saturday, March 7, which would be the fourth Cactus League game against the Giants in Scottsdale, might be the answer.

If the Padres were already setting up their regular rotation based on pitching every fifth day (and Buddy says they have things "mapped out"), the person who goes on the 7th would have his spot naturally come up on April 6th, which is the first real game of the year against the Dodgers in Los Angeles.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Padres Spring Training Kicks Off With High Hopes]]> Fri, 27 Feb 2015 22:00:26 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/padres+spring+training+022715.JPG The Padres have not been to the playoffs since 2006, but a revamped roster is causing a lot of excitement about the team's prospects this year. NBC 7's Derek Togerson has a first look at them during spring training. ]]> <![CDATA[Padres Spring Training: Live BP Adds New Challenge]]> Fri, 27 Feb 2015 19:23:11 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/160*120/Padres+L-Screen.jpg

One of the milestone days of Spring Training is the first day of live batting practice. That’s when the pitching staff gets its work in with a batter actively trying to hit the ball. The Padres hit that fence post on Friday.

James Shields was the first to work off the mound to live hitters. The other three guaranteed members of the starting rotation, Andrew Cashner, Tyson Ross and Ian Kennedy, also threw with live ammo for the first time.

It’s not going full game speed, but it’s also not just working on mechanics.

“You’re trying to get quality pitches, quality out, and throw quality strikes” said Kennedy. “For me it’s about getting the work, but also getting the little extra adrenaline.”

We saw an awful lot of swings and misses and foul balls. As happens every spring, the pitchers are further along than the hitters.

“We have the advantage right now because they don’t see a lot of live pitching,” said Kennedy. “It’s a lot different when someone is throwing like a real pitcher and not just laying it in there for BP.”

Much like batting practice, the guys on the mound throw from behind a protective L-screen, which takes a lot more adjusting than one might think.

“For me, it’s hard,” said Kennedy. “You’ve got that bar right there and I couldn’t tell if the catcher caught it in the center, down low … we’re not used to it. It’s having something right in front of us, you feel like you’re going to hit it or you can’t see because the bar is right there in the middle of your vision.”

Hey, at least they’re well-protected. Aren’t they?

“When a guy swings, you have no idea where the ball is going. Will (Venable) hit a ball today and I had no idea where it was going. I just flinched because I didn’t know if it was at me, first base, third base, whatever it was. It’s almost as dangerous to have it there as it is not having it there.”

On Saturday, manager Bud Black expects to have a preliminary plan for his Cactus League pitching rotation. Games get underway on Wednesday with the annual Charity match against the Mariners, where they won’t have to worry about any L-screens.

<![CDATA[Padres Spring Training: Who Hits First?]]> Fri, 27 Feb 2015 22:45:24 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/180*120/GettyImages_456113586.jpg

Although the Padres overhauled their roster this off-season, they could not possibly get to all the issues that need addressing. The addition of power and youth were paramount, and both accomplished.

There's a lot of new pop in the lineup. Matt Kemp, Justin Upston, Wil Myers and Derek Norris can all drive in runs. The question is, who will be the runners they drive in?

The Padres don't have a true leadoff hitter anywhere on the projected, Opening Day 25-man roster. But, don't worry. Neither do most teams.

"In this day and age, I think the true, prototypical leadoff hitter is hard to find," said Padres manager Bud Black. "There are some out there. I think (Marlins second baseman) Dee Gordon is a prototypical one. Obviously, Rickey Henderson was probably, arguably the best leadoff hitter of all time."

If you have to go that far back, you know there's a dearth of "true" leadoff hitters in the 2015 world of Major League Baseball. So, since there's not a guy who really stands out (prospects Rico Noel and Jose Rondon seem to fit the mold but they're not MLB-ready yet), who does Buddy see as the guy who sets the table?

"I think if you look at (Will) Venable, (Cameron) Maybin, (Wil) Myers, (Yangervis) Solarte ... let's get started there," said Black

Shortstop Alexi Amarista is one option many people thought would be in the mix for the top spot in the order because of his speed, but a low on-base percentage has Black thinking something else.

"Alexi and (fellow shortstop Clint) Barmes fit, maybe, down at the bottom of the order."

Catcher Derek Norris is another guy people thought would have a shot at leading off. He has that high OBP, but not the speed you need from a leadoff guy, so Black sees him in the middle of the order with Matt Kemp, Justin Upton, Jedd Gyorko and Will Middlebrooks.

When Cactus League play begins, expect to see multiple guys getting the first at-bat of the game.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Ex-Knick Anthony Mason Dies at 48]]> Sat, 28 Feb 2015 22:54:53 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/22815mason.jpg

Anthony Mason, one of the Knicks’ most popular players of the 1990s who had one All-Star season during a 13-year pro career, has died following a massive heart attack, the team said Saturday. He was 48.

According to multiple reports and league sources, Mason had been fighting for his life after undergoing multiple surgeries over the last few days. Veteran NBA writer Peter Vescey broke the news Wednesday about Mason.

The Springfield Gardens, Queens, native was a bruising power forward with a no-nonsense demeanor on the court, and he had a fan-pleasing blue-collar work ethic. He came up from the minor leagues and also played overseas before finally making the NBA.

Mason won the NBA’s Sixth Man Award in 1994-95, a season after helping the Knicks reach the NBA Finals for the first time since 1973. The Knicks lost to the Rockets in seven games.

On Saturday, Anthony Mason Jr. issued a statement following his dad's death.

"Overnight New York City and the world lost a legend, a friend, a brother - but more than anything our father. ... As you all would expect our father - Big Mase - put up an incredible fight, dealing with a severe heart issue," he said.

"Pops we've got to let you know we love you and know you'll always be with us," Anthony Mason Jr. said.

Figures from Mason's past took to Twitter to express their grief.

"We gonna miss u brother," tweeted Charles Oakley. 

"A great athlete and true gentleman. He will be missed," wrote the Rev. Al Sharpton..

When Don Nelson succeeded Pat Riley in 1995-96 as the Knicks' head coach, Mason was at the center of a full-blown controversy. Nelson decided to make Mason the focal point of the Knicks’ attack, going away from perennial All-Star and the face of the franchise, Patrick Ewing. Nelson’s move was unpopular with Ewing and other Knicks and led to his removal as head coach only 59 games into his first and only season in New York.

“For Nelson to do that was amazing," former Knicks great Bernard King told NBC 4 New York. “Patrick was still a dominant player in the league at that time. While Anthony was a very good player for the Knicks, Patrick was still one of the best players in the league."

Mason was later traded to Charlotte in the famous Larry Johnson deal that helped key the Knicks’ success in the late 1990’s, culminating with a trip to the NBA Finals in 1999, where the Knicks lost to the Spurs. That was the first of Tim Duncan's five title teams.

Mason later played for Riley in Miami, becoming an All-Star in 2001 as an injury replacement for Grant Hill.

-- Mitch Lawrence contributed to this report.

Longtime New York columnist Mitch Lawrence continues to write about pro basketball, as he’s done for the last 22 years. His columns for NBCNewYork.com on the Knicks, Brooklyn Nets and the NBA, along with other major sports, appear twice weekly. Follow him on Twitter.

<![CDATA[Get To Know Padres' Justin Upton]]> Fri, 27 Feb 2015 16:37:26 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/justin_upton_pic_1200x675_405691459970.jpg In eight years in the Major Leagues, Justin Upton has gone to two All-Star Games. Sure, there are players who have done more in their first eight seasons, but keep in mind, Upton is only 27 years old. That means he’s entering his prime. Last year in Atlanta, Upton drove on 102 runs, the first time he’s topped the 100 RBI mark, and did it on an offense that scored the second-fewest runs in baseball (beating only the Padres). Now that Upton is surrounded by talented hitters, he could be in for a monster year. NBC 7’s Derek Togerson asked Upton how the transition to San Diego is going, and found out if guys who’ve been in pro baseball for a decade still get excited about the game.]]> <![CDATA[Padres Players Debate Color of "the Dress"]]> Fri, 27 Feb 2015 16:43:18 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/Padres_Talk_About_Color_Of_The_Dress_NBC_RSH-MCDS_1200x675_405681219524.jpg Blue and black? White and gold? The world is divided over "the Dress." Professional sports franchises are often defined by the color of their uniforms so at Padres Spring Training in Peoria, Arizona, NBC7's Derek Togerson asked some of the Padres players what they see. If anything can divide a clubhouse, this is it.]]> <![CDATA[Earl Lloyd, First Black NBA Player, Dies at 86]]> Fri, 27 Feb 2015 06:14:52 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/AP861620179640.jpg

Earl Lloyd, the first black player in NBA history, died Thursday. He was 86.

Lloyd's alma mater, West Virginia State, confirmed the death. It did not provide details.

Lloyd made his NBA debut in 1950 for the Washington Capitals, just before fellow black players Sweetwater Clifton and Chuck Cooper played their first games.

"The State family mourns the loss of a fellow Yellow Jacket and trailblazer who was a true champion both on and off of the basketball court," West Virginia State President Brian Hemphill said in a statement. "When Earl stepped out on the court on that fateful date in 1950, this remarkable man rightfully earned his place in the historic civil rights movement and, more important, he opened the door to equality in America."

Lloyd helped the Syracuse Nationals win the 1955 NBA title, joining teammate Jim Tucker as the first black players to play on a championship team.

The 6-foot-5 forward averaged 8.4 points and 6.4 rebounds in 560 regular-season games in nine seasons with Washington, Syracuse and Detroit. He missed the 1951-52 season while serving in the U.S. Army.

Inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame in 2003 as a contributor, Lloyd was 22-55 as Detroit's coach in 1971-72 and the first nine games in the 1972-73 season.

Lloyd, a native of Alexandria, Virginia, lived in Crossville, Tennessee. 

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Aiken to Play for IMG Academy]]> Thu, 26 Feb 2015 13:04:24 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/195*120/450130722.jpg

Pitcher Brady Aiken, first overall in the 2014 Major League Baseball Draft, will not be playing for the Houston Astros as anticipated.

Instead, the Cathedral Catholic High School alum will be pitching for IMG Academy, according to an announcement made Thursday.

Sports Illustrated reported the news saying the Astros and Aikens failed to reach a deal after a ligament tear was discovered by doctors in July 2014.

The sports magazine reports Aiken will be eligible for the 2015 draft. 

Photo Credit: Getty Images
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<![CDATA[Eagles Acho Taking Va. Teen to Prom]]> Thu, 26 Feb 2015 13:45:32 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/228*120/2015-02-26_1345.png

A Loudoun County, Virginia, teen got the surprise of a lifetime Friday when Philadelphia Eagles linebacker Emmanuel Acho agreed to take her to prom.

Back in January, Hannah Delmonte reached out to Acho on Instagram and asked if he would take her to prom if she got 2,000 retweets on Twitter, Comcast SportsNet Philly reports. But Acho upped the ante -- Delmonte had to reach 10,000 retweets.

And she did.

Delmonte's post received over 17,000 retweets, far surpassing her goal.

Acho dropped by Woodgrove High School in Purcellville on Friday and surprised Delmonte with a customized Eagles jersey with the number 15 and the word "prom" written across the back.

Acho also plans to play piano and sing Delmonte a song on the night of the prom, according to Comcast SportsNet Philly. Prom is scheduled for May 9, according to the school's calendar.

Check out her priceless reaction in the video above.

Photo Credit: Comcast SportsNet Philly
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<![CDATA[SF Giants' Buster Posey Voted #FaceOfMLB]]> Thu, 26 Feb 2015 13:50:16 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/180*120/458058616_8.jpg

Twitter users had their say, and on Thursday, Major League Baseball announced the winner of this year's hashtag-driven social media contest: San Francisco Giants' catcher Buster Posey was voted the #FaceofMLB.

The award does not bring Posey any more money, but definately heaps more love and adoration.

The symbolic title is driven by a Major League Baseball popularity bracket-style contest where fans weigh in on Twitter. Every tweet is a vote. Fans hashtag their favorite player; #BusterPosey and #FaceOfMLB to "register." Fans can also go to the MLB Facebook page to share a comment with the same hashtags. Theoretically, someone is counting up all these hashtags to reveal a winner.

The annual social media frenzy had come down to New York Mets third baseman David Wright, who won last year,  and Posey, who was voted the Most Valuable Player in 2012.

Posey fans were thrilled.

"Couldn't have happened to a nicer, more deserving guy," tweeted a fan.

Photo Credit: Getty Images
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<![CDATA[Padres Hold First Full-Squad Workout]]> Thu, 26 Feb 2015 08:14:53 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/180*120/GettyImages_111029349.jpg

Matt Kemp has been in Peoria since pitchers and catchers reported last week. On Wednesday, he was out on the field with the rest of his new Padres team mates for the Friars' first full squad workout of Spring Training 2015.

This team has gotten an awful lot of buzz over the last few months. The new outfielder believes it's warranted.

"I feel like we can be one of the best teams in baseball," said Kemp.

Every player on every team says that every February. The difference is, this time he might be right. The Padres project to have enviable pitching staffs, from the starting rotation to the bullpen, and a formidable offense. Advanced statistical metrics say they'll take a step back on defense, but they're banking on the offensive improvement to more than compensate.

With Kemp, Justin Upton and Wil Myers forming a new, more athletic and productive outfield, San Diego has far more OF than they can carry. So the Padres are moving a few pieces around.

Oft-injured left fielder Carlos Quentin has been working at first base in the off-season and will give that position a shot during Cactus League play. Aside from Yonder Alonso and Tommy Medica, the Padres don't have many options at first so Quentin could work his way in to some playing time there.

If he shows the ability to handle the position, it makes keeping his $8 million contract easier to keep around and could make him more attractive as a trade chip.

Derek Togerson and photojournalist Dave Smith will be in Peoria for Spring Training starting Friday, February 27. Be sure to visit www.nbc7.com/sportswrap for updates.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Phoenix Reports Good Returns On Super Bowl Investment]]> Wed, 25 Feb 2015 16:53:03 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/el-sabor-del-super-bowl.jpg

Since we all can’t seem to get enough of this new stadium in San Diego talk, let’s take a look at some interesting information from Phoenix, site of the latest Super Bowl.

On Wednesday the Arizona Super Bowl Host Committee released its count of visitors for Super Bowl XLIX. According to their attendance numbers, in the five days leading up to the game, Downtown Phoenix hosted more than one million visitors in the 12-block outdoor fan campus anchored by Verizon Super Bowl Central.

“We exceeded our expectations, with 1,015,000 visitors from around the world and the region turning out in downtown Phoenix to celebrate the spirit of Arizona and Super Bowl XLIX,” said Jay Parry, President and CEO of the Arizona Super Bowl Host Committee.

The Host Committee claims an awful lot of those people stayed and spent money in local establishments. According to numbers compiled by Smith Travel Research, hotel occupancy in Phoenix and the surrounding areas for Thursday, January 29 through Sunday, February 1 was 40-percent above the same time period the previous year.

On Saturday night before the game, 96-percent of hotel rooms were filled, the highest Reservation per Available Room ever recorded for metro Phoenix’s hotels.

“The number of people in Phoenix for these events was unprecedented, and I believe we soon will see tangible economic results for the city, the region and the state,” Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton said.

Other activities of note had an impact on Arizona include:

  • More than $2 million being donated to 27 local non-profit organizations by the Arizona Super Bowl Host Committee, Host Committee partners and the NFL.
  • 170 trees were planted in public parks throughout the region.
  • 33,000 new and gently used sports equipment items and books were collected through Super Kids-Super Sharing event.
  • 23,782 pounds of electronics were collected at an E-Waste Recycling Rally.

There will be more studies and information released in the coming weeks, but this looks like a good start for an area that is nowhere near as well equipped as San Diego is to host an event as big as the Super Bowl.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Have Chargers Stadium Question? Ask Mark Fabiani Yourself]]> Wed, 25 Feb 2015 15:28:15 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/180*120/124718485.jpg

The San Diego Stadium Coalition was formed in 2007. It's described as a grass-roots organization with a membership committed to building a new stadium in San Diego County. It has earned some traction over the years, and now it's giving all of you the chance to get information on the latest stadium situation directly from one of the major players.

The SDSC is hosting an online chat with Chargers Special Counsel Mark Fabiani on Thursday, February 26, at 12:30 P.M.

Anyone registered with the SDSC can ask Fabiani questions and get a direct response about what, exactly, is going on from the team's perspective (you can register at http://sdstadium.org)
"There’s a lot of uncertainty surrounding the Chargers future in San Diego; and last week’s announcement about the team partnering to build a stadium in Carson has definitely throttled up the discussion." said San Diego Stadium Coalition Chairman Jason Riggs in a statement. "While Mr. Fabiani has appeared on several media outlets, this chat offers an excellent opportunity for concerned citizens to get their most challenging questions answered."

The chat is only scheduled to last one hour, and during that time Fabiani intends to answer as many questions as possible.

Similar chats with Fabiani were held in 2009 and 2011, but never before has the community, team or city government been this invested in the stadium issue.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Big Change For San Diego's Bowl Games]]> Wed, 25 Feb 2015 12:26:15 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/229*120/SD+Bowl+Games.jpg

When the Holiday Bowl debuted in San Diego in 1978, the first paid employee of the San Diego Bowl Game Association was Bruce Binkowski. The man has been there ever since.

Now, after 37 years of service, the last 14 as executive director, Bruce Binkowski is retiring from the SDBGA. During his 37-year tenure, the organization has generated more than $730 million in economic impact for the region through the National University Holiday Bowl and San Diego County Credit Union Poinsettia Bowl, which he spearheaded.

Binkowski, who was recently honored with a lifetime achievement award by the San Diego Hall of Champions, will remain on staff for a 38th year as executive consultant, then turn over the organization he shaped to Mark Neville, started as an intern with the Holiday Bowl in 1991 and has been in charge of the bowl’s sponsorship, marketing, advertising and media relations efforts.

“Bruce’s leadership through the years has been exemplary and a key reason the bowl games enjoy the success they realize today,” said SDBGA President Vincent Mudd. “We are so appreciative of Bruce’s leadership for so many years and we are happy he will continue to serve us and assist with the transition to our new director. He will prove to be an invaluable asset to Mark as he steps in to fill his shoes.”

<![CDATA[Should The Chargers Sign Jacoby Jones?]]> Wed, 25 Feb 2015 11:43:48 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/183*120/GettyImages_458310918.jpg

November, 30, 2014. Chargers and Ravens in Baltimore. With 3:47 left to play, Philip Rivers found Keenan Allen for a 23-yard touchdown that cut Baltimore's lead to 30-27. The Chargers had all kinds of momentum on their side.

Then the talk started in the press box, because the next decision was a tough one: Do you give Jacoby Jones a chance to return the kickoff?

They did, and Jones ran it back 72 yards to put the Ravens in field goal range (of course, the Bolts won the game, but at the time it felt like Jones had just killed their playoff hopes). I tell you this because on Wednesday the Ravens released Jones, making him a free agent.

Jones was second in the NFL last year in total return yards (to Devin Hester) and average yards per return (to Adam Jones -- no relation). He is a wide receiver by trade, and the Chargers could use depth at wideout, especially if the guy they bring in is a speedster who can stretch the field. Jones only caught nine passes in 2014 but just cue up the 56-yard touchdown he caught in the second quarter of Super Bowl XLVII to see the kind of speed this guy has.

A dangerous return man is something the Bolts have not had since Darren Sproles left for New Orleans in 2010. San Diego ranked 25th in the NFL in average offensive starting field position. The Chargers tried a bunch of different guys back there (Chris Davis, Shaun Draughn, Branden Oliver, Donald Brown) but nobody showed consistent, game-changing ability like Jones has.

Jones was released just one year after signing a 4-year, $12 million contract. The Ravens have a few big-ticket free agents to hang on to and need help in the secondary (rumor has it they're high on Chargers free agent Brandon Flowers) so Jones became a special team luxury they could no longer afford to keep.

But, it's a luxury the Chargers would desperately love to have. Jones is not a top priority for the Bolts, but he'll certainly be on their radar, and that's a good thing.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[2-Year-Old Son of NFL Long Snapper Sings National Anthem]]> Thu, 26 Feb 2015 02:48:08 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/180*120/AP828165311104.jpg

Forget football! The 2-year-old son of Cincinnati Bengals' long snapper showed he is ready for the stage when he belted out the National Anthem at a high school basketball game.

The NFL player, Clark Harris, held son Trent's hand as he led him to the court for the tot's performance.

Decked out in a blazer and with hair reminiscent of his father's mane, Trent sang in front of a packed gym ahead of a matchup between the Southern Regional High School and Pinelands Regional High School boys' basketball teams.

Clark's wife and proud mom, Jessica, posted Trent's rendition to YouTube, captioning the video: "My sons first performance!! ... I'm so proud!!!" 

Watch the full video below.

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<![CDATA[NFL Stadium Proposals ]]> Wed, 25 Feb 2015 11:41:02 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/carson-stadium.gif

Ever since the Rams and the Raiders left Los Angeles in the mid-1990s, there have been attempts to bring an NFL team back to the city.

The football league approved an expansion franchise for Los Angeles as early as 1999, but no agreement was reached and a team went to Houston. The NFL requires a three-quarters vote of the 32 teams for any team to move.

There are now four proposals on the table. Here they are:

Oakland Raiders and San Diego Chargers to Share a Stadium

The Oakland Raiders and San Diego Chargers have announced that they will together pursue a new home at a $1.7 billion stadium in Carson, in Los Angeles County,  but only if both teams cannot find alternatives in their home markets. The stadium, which would require voter approval, would have more than 72,000 seats and with 18,000 parking spots, room for tailgating. It would be built on the site of an old municipal landfill at the intersection of the 405 Freeway and Del Amo Boulevard. Right now, the Jets and the Giants are the only NFL teams to share a stadium.

Meanwhile negotiations over a new stadium for the Raiders in the Bay area could be facing a 30-day deadline, according to a report in the San Francisco Chronicle. Oakland Mayor Libby Scaaf has said she would be wiling to spend taxpayer money to help pay for a new stadium, which could total up to $300 million, according to columnists Phil Matier and Andy Ross. But issues over using public money could be insurmountable, they report.

Replacing Hollywood Park Racetrack

Stan Kroenke, the owner of the St. Louis Rams, wants to build a new $2 billion stadium on the site of the now closed Hollywood Park racetrack in Inglewood, California. The proposal is for an 80,000-seat stadium, 6,000-seat performance venue, 300-room hotel, and 1.5 million square feet of retail, office and residential space.

The developer, not the public, would pay for the cost of building the stadium, according to a consultants' report.

The Inglewood City Council unanimously approved the plan on Feb. 24.

Kroenke has partnered with Stockbridge Capital Group and is the first NFL team owner to control a site large enough for a new stadium. The Rams are playing at the Edward Jones Dome in St. Louis, but are unhappy with the conditions. The Inglewood proposal will put pressure on St Louis to reach a deal for a new stadium or watch the team return to Southern California, where it played from 1946 to 1994.

Farmers Field

The Anschutz Entertainment Group or AEG agreed in 2012 to build a football stadium at the L.A. LIVE complex downtown and renovate the Los Angeles Convention Center. In October, the city granted AEG a six-month extension. AEG plans to commit $600,000 to development, but it is also offering alternatives to a stadium, meaning a large hotel might be built in its place.
Grand Crossing

Developer Ed Roski Jr., the president of Majestic Realty Co., in 2008 announced plans to build an $800 million stadium in the city of Industry near the interchange of the 60 and 57 freeways. The project is being called Grand Crossing.

<![CDATA[County Supervisor Talks Stadium With Advisory Committee, SDSU]]> Tue, 24 Feb 2015 21:49:45 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/Gene_interview_6p0224_1200x675_403902531940.jpg County Supervisor Ron Roberts met with the mayor's stadium advisory group and SDSU's president to talk about the future of Qualcomm Stadium. He recapped the issue with NBC 7's Gene Cubbison. ]]> <![CDATA[Belated Valentine to Bolts: City Professes Commitment]]> Tue, 24 Feb 2015 21:55:53 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/san+diego+city+council+generic+080114.JPG

NBC 7's Gene Cubbison has this analysis on the Chargers stadium dilemma: 

It's now official — the San Diego City Council really, really wants the Chargers to stay.

But with the Los Angeles market eager for an NFL team, time to keep the Bolts local may be running out.

On Thursday came a formal city council resolution of undying commitment to working toward a stadium solution with the Chargers.

But there was no mention in all the phrases beginning “whereas” and the “be it resolved” of how much and under what conditions they're ready to commit.

In this high-stakes scrimmage, will Mayor Kevin Faulconer's "read-and-react" game plan sway a team that's being lured toward Los Angeles?

"You can't do that on this issue — you're going to have to, at some point, stand behind an idea of what you want to happen,” said Voice of San Diego editor Scott Lewis.

“Even if that idea is 'Sayonara, have fun in L.A.' or the idea is 'Let's build a stadium in downtown or Mission Valley, and let's get this thing done.' I think he's just trying to have it both ways, and now he's paying from both sides."

And, as hard questions linger in San Diego about who pays what for a new stadium, those questions already are pretty much answered about the project St. Louis Rams Stan Kroenke and his investment partners are planning in Inglewood.

The city council approved the venture in a multibillion-dollar renewal effort called "City of Champions Revitalization Initiative.”

Meantime, downtown San Diego’s East Village target site carries a 5-to-7 year timeline to get rid of the Metro Transit System bus yard, according to an MTS memorandum.

That would appear to leave Mission Valley’s Qualcomm Stadium site as the faster track to redevelop — assuming a laundry list of issues can be resolved.

"I think what the Chargers have made clear in the past number of weeks is that they're fed up,” Councilman Todd Gloria said in an interview Tuesday. “I think fans are fed up and they're getting incredibly nervous and expecting some leadership."

At City Hall, following a pep talk by Faulconer, the Council voted 8-0 (with one absentee) on a resolution proclaiming the Chargers "a source of civic pride and inspiration", and declaring the city "fully committed" to keeping them.

Die-hard Bolts fans who attended the Council session can't imagine what the city would be like without the team.

"It would be like, even a death in the family — you really don't get over with it, but you learn to live with it,” Serra Mesa resident Butch Dye, sporting a Bolts #32 (Eric Weddle) jersey, told NBC 7. “I think that's what could happen. But it won’t happen because the Chargers are gonna stay."

Said Lemon Grove resident Don Holdren: “To me, with all the friends and fan base I know, we’ll no longer be Charger fans. It’s a terrible thing, but us sharing a stadium with the Raiders is like sleeping with the enemy. And I don’t see it happening.”

<![CDATA[Full Squad Workouts Begin in Peoria]]> Thu, 26 Feb 2015 08:13:43 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/san-diego-padres-generic-sp.jpg A look at the first full squad workouts for the San Diego Padres in Peoria on February 25, 2015.]]> <![CDATA[Chargers Linebacker Jarret Johnson Retires]]> Tue, 24 Feb 2015 14:40:34 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/jarret+johnson+ravens.jpg

San Diego Chargers linebacker Jarret Johnson won't be back for the 2015 season.

Johnson was a highly respected veteran who spent the last three years with the Chargers after nine seasons with the Baltimore Ravens.

He brought stability and leadership to the defense.

Johnson who once wrote, "I’ve been around a lot of locker rooms in my career, but this one is special" said it has meant a lot for him to be a Charger.

Johnson made the announcement on his Facebook page saying, “I lived a dream which few can say but it’s time to move on. I want to thank the Chargers organization for giving me a home these past three years.”

Chargers defensive lineman Corey Liuget posted on Twitter, "Always looked up to Jarret Johnson as a leader of our defense. Taught me many life lessons."

Johnson’s retirement was expected.

He’s the latest Chargers’ leader to retire this year, following offensive linemen Nick Hardwick and Jeromey Clary.

Photo Credit: Getty Images
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<![CDATA[LT Entered in Breitbard Hall of Fame]]> Tue, 24 Feb 2015 13:10:27 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/LaDanian-Tomlinson-2015.jpg NBC 7's Jim Laslavic reports on the ceremony Monday night honoring LaDanian Tomlinson, Tony Clark and Chris Chambliss. ]]> <![CDATA[Madison Bumgarner Poses as Paul Bunyan With Bull]]> Tue, 24 Feb 2015 13:29:22 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/160*125/madbum2.JPG

World Series MVP Madison Bumgarner is getting some new attention after he posed as Paul Bunyan for a photo shoot.

Yup, that’s him in red suspenders and an ax posing for the cover of the first issue of the Season’s Giants magazine.

MadBum was born in Hickory, North Carolina where he still lives on a farm during the offseason.

Photo Credit: San Francisco Giants]]>
<![CDATA[Some Believe 49ers Could Take Cornerback With First Pick]]> Tue, 24 Feb 2015 13:30:19 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/180*120/jhayKolns.jpg

The 49ers have a need at wide receiver, and many NFL writers and analysts believe they’ll use their No. 1 pick on a fast, field-stretching pass catcher or a pass rusher.

But the Niners also have much uncertainty at cornerback and now, after the NFL Combine has been completed, some believe they’ll use their top selection, the 15th overall, on a corner.

Veteran cornerbacks Chris Culliver and Perrish Cox are free agents who might go elsewhere in 2015. And Tramaine Brock, the team’s No. 1 corner entering 2014, has struggled with injuries.

This is considered a subpar crop of college cornerbacks, but there are some corners with first-round talent, including Trae Waynes of Michigan State, Jalen Collins of LSU, P.J. Williams of Florida State and Marcus Peters of Washington.

Waynes got plenty of attention at the NFL Combine last week by running a 4.31 40-yard dash, the fastest time among this year’s corners. Also opening eyes was Byron Jones of Connecticut, who set a Combine record with a 147-inch broad jump and had a 44.5-inch vertical leap.

But the corner who might best suit the 49ers is Collins of LSU.

In his most recent NFL mock draft, Daniel Jeremiah of NFL.com has the 49ers selecting Collins with the 15th pick, and at the Combine, Collins was impressive. The 6-foot-1, 203-pounder has the size NFL teams now are looking for in pass coverage, and he ran a strong 4.48 40 time. Wrote Jeremiah: “Collins doesn’t have a lot of experience, but he has a big upside because of his size/athleticsm.”

Collins started just 10 games at LSU, but had three interceptions and 25 pass breakups. NFL.com analyst Mike Mayock calls him “a long press corner” because of his size, but isn’t certain what he can do. “We’ve got a lot of questions to answer on this kid,” he said at the Combine.

Collins also has the long arms (32 1/8) that 49ers GM Trent Baalke covets.

Two other factors could be new 49ers receivers coach Adam Henry, who comes to the team from LSU where he coached the wide receivers – and went up against Collins every day in practice – and Niners safety Eric Reid, a former LSU standout. Both could vouch for Collins.

Collins has been ranked as the No. 3 cornerback in this draft, behind Michigan State’s Waynes and Washington’s Peters.

Though Mayock wants to see more of him, he says, “I want to like him” because of his potential and toughness.

“He’s not afraid at the line of scrimmage,” he said. “He’s not bailing out. He’s just sitting right there and saying, ‘Bring it.’ ”


Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Raiders Need to Find Replacement for Roach]]> Tue, 24 Feb 2015 13:30:39 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/180*120/rhhoachhhh.jpg

In 2013, the Raiders found a gem in veteran linebacker Nick Roach.

The ex-Bear was signed as a free agent and earned the starting job at middle linebacker. He became a leader and a solid performer, leading Oakland in tackles (112) while also forcing four fumbles, getting 5½ sacks and an interception.

He also was durable, playing every defensive snap of the season.

At just 28 years old with seven seasons in the NFL, Roach was coming into his own. The defense around him wasn’t very good, but Roach appeared to be a player on the rise.

But Roach lost all of the 2014 season because of a concussion suffered in an August preseason game.

Though he’s signed through 2016, it’s now becoming more apparent that Roach may also miss the 2015 season, as well – which means Oakland will again have to find a replacement for him.

Recently, Vic Tafur of the San Francisco Chronicle reported that Roach is still experiencing headaches from last year’s consussion. General manager Reggie McKenzie said the decision about when Roach will be able to play again will be up to Roach and the team’s medical staff.

“I am not going to rush him to play when mentally he’s not ready,” said McKenzie, who added that the team will need to look out for Roach’s welfare.

“As much as we’d love him to be our signal caller on defense, I don’t want to risk lifelong injury if he goes out there,” McKenzie told Tafur.

In Roach’s absence, the Raiders had to make due with Miles Burris, who made the switch from outside to the middle, and struggled at times. A recent Pro Football Focus report cited Burris as missing more tackles than average at his position.

The Raiders are likely to look for a linebacker in free agency or the draft who can come in to compete with Burris for the spot.

One possibility might be Nate Irving, wrote Bill Williamson of ESPN.com Tuesday. Irving, 26, was the starting middle linebacker of the Broncos for the first half of the 2014 season until he suffered a torn ACL and was lost for the final eight games. In playing for Jack Del Rio, the Broncos’ defensive coordinator who now is the Raiders’ head coach, Irving was in on 46 tackles in eight games, with one sack. The 6-foot-1, 245-pounder from North Carolina State was in his fourth season with Denver but is now a free agent. As Williamson noted, Irving’s history with Del Rio and his likely low price tag (in coming off an injury) could make him a good fit in Oakland.

Josina Anderson of ESPN reported that several teams “are showing interest” in Irving.

If the Raiders address the need through the draft after the first round, some inside linebackers who might be available in the second through third rounds include Benardrick McKinney of Mississippi State, Stephone Anthony of Clemson, Hayes Pullard of USC, Taiwan Jones of Michigan State, Paul Dawson of TCU, Mike Hull of Penn State, Jake Ryan of Michigan and Ramik Wilson of Georgia.


Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Boston Olympics Criticism OK: Mayor]]> Tue, 24 Feb 2015 14:02:07 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/214*120/Walsh+Olympics.jpg

It's now OK for city workers to criticize Boston's bid for the 2024 Olympics, thanks to a change to the city's deal with the U.S. Olympic Committee.

Mayor Marty Walsh announced the change Tuesday, saying that the agreement with the USOC had been revised to remove any language discouraging city employees from criticizing the Olympic bid. Walsh had earlier defended the stipulation, which civil liberties advocates had criticized.

The Boston Globe reported last month that the "joinder agreement" between the city and the USOC banned city employees from badmouthing the 2024 Olympic bid. The American Civil Liberties Union of Massachusetts said the agreement was a violation of the First Amendment right to free speech.

"This revised agreement is the result of positive negotiations with the United States Olympic Committee to reach a consensus that accurately represents how Boston is moving forward with our Olympic bid," Walsh said in a statement.

"I want to thank those who have already offered their thoughts on Boston's bid and I continue to encourage all residents, including city employees, to share their opinions over the coming months. My top priority is to ensure an open and transparent process, and it is important that any proposal is shaped by the input and ideas of people from every neighborhood in order to offer the greatest benefit to our city," Walsh continued.

Walsh's statement characterized the original ban on employee criticism of the Olympic bid as "boilerplate language that all cities have historically signed regarding city employees and their participation in the Olympic process."

Rich Davey, Boston 2024's CEO, said the new agreement "will strengthen Boston's efforts to work with communities to build a stronger Olympic bid."

The next citywide Olympic discussion is scheduled for Tuesday night at 6:30 at the Condon School Cafeteria in South Boston. 

Additional citywide meetings are scheduled for March 31, April 28, May 19, June 30, July 28, Aug. 25 and Sept. 29.

Photo Credit: FILE - NECN]]>
<![CDATA[Wash. NFL Football Team: Canceling Trademark Violates Free-Speech]]> Tue, 24 Feb 2015 09:54:50 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/212*120/1104-redskins-generic.jpg

Lawyers for the Washington NFL football team are telling a judge that the team's free-speech rights will be infringed upon if a federal panel's decision to cancel the team's trademarks is allowed to stand.

A board of the U.S. Patent And Trademark Office ruled last year that the trademark of the "Redskins" should be canceled because the name is disparaging to Native Americans.

The team is suing in federal court in Alexandria to have the board's decision overturned. In court papers filed Monday, the team says the law barring registration of disparaging trademarks is unconstitutional under the First Amendment.

The government has intervened in the civil lawsuit to defend the law's constitutionality. Government lawyers say the law doesn't ban disparaging speech; it just denies the protection of a federal trademark.

<![CDATA[Top Sports Photos 2015]]> Fri, 27 Feb 2015 08:30:50 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/AP504914195557.jpg Click to see dramatic sports photos from the NFL, to basketball, baseball and more.]]> <![CDATA[Will Stadium Meeting Ease City, Chargers Disconnect?]]> Mon, 23 Feb 2015 17:53:05 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/carson-stadium-rendering.jpg

Now that San Diego's mayor and the owner of the Chargers have met face-to-face, what are the odds they'll see eye-to-eye on the what the city's stadium advisers come up with?

Conventional wisdom says the Chargers have the upper hand in bargaining because the city dares not lose them. But there's also risk for the team in leaving town.

It's one thing to know each other’s breaking point, and the city can't afford not to know its own.

Veteran political strategist Jon Elliott offers this view of the stadium standoff: “What we've got is they (the Chargers) think they're in charge. I don't think they're in charge. They're a tenant, and we're the landlord – we, the citizens of San Diego.

“And the problem with the politicians here is, nobody wants to be the guy who says 'adios' to the Chargers."

Mayor Faulconer, just after his private meeting with the Chargers’ Dean Spanos, was cast as a villain Sunday by Gulls fans who booed him at the city’s welcoming rally for the minor-league hockey club.

His comeback?

"I don't think we can hear you,” Faulconer shouted, on-mic, at the turnout of several thousand. “Are we gonna keep the Chargers here in San Diego?"

"Yeeaahhh!" came a response that more or less drowned out the boos and catcalls.

"That's what I'm talkin' about!" the mayor tossed back defiantly.

The Chargers are talking about a fallback stadium plan with the Oakland Raiders in Carson that would pick just private pockets and not soak taxpayers who can't afford -- or don't care about -- "the game-day experience.”

But it would be a while before the teams could take up residence there if they leave their current venues.

"Let them be called the Rose Bowl Chargers,” said Elliott. “Let them be the LA Coliseum Chargers -- although they probably won't draw as well as USC does there. And they'll have to work out scheduling conflicts."

There's no shortage of economic issues dividing the two sides.

Complicating that during last week’s dustup over the parallel track in Carson was a clash of egos over "power plays" and feelings of betrayal.

The mayor's stadium advisers got a hurry-up prod from the Chargers, which the team's critics think was a blatantly rude, crude move.

"(The Chargers) put a stab in our mayor's back that said you were going to call the shots -- and you had already done it,” Elliott told NBC 7. “And he was the one mayor that consistently said, 'I'll get this done,' and he was going to get it done. He was going to run roughshod."

Spanos isn't as flush as most of his NFL competitors, but he's shrewdly played a cash-strapped city.

"These people own these football teams because they're excellent business people,” said George Belch, sports marketing professor at San Diego State University’s school of business administration.

“They haven't made the money to own these teams by not being good business people,” Belch said in an interview Monday.

But given the city's fragile finances, will San Diego voters see saving pro football as more of a luxury than a basic civic need?

“We're not Pittsburgh, we're not Green Bay, not Denver where we're just head over heels in love with our team," said Belch. "I do think there's a great fan base here, but we're not willing to fund this at any cost because I think we just know we have too many issues here that we're dealing with as a city."

Belch’s level of optimism for a win-win resolution is relatively low: "Every time you look at this, it's great theater. Fascinating to watch. But you really are left scratching your head and wondering how it could really by resolved -- unless someone makes a major concession."

Failing that, it may take a "White Knight" or two with a ton of gold to step in.

Chargers special counsel Mark Fabiani has said the team would consider new part owner/investors if it made sense and would help expedite a deal.

On Tuesday the mayor's stadium advisers will hear from County Supervisor Ron Roberts and SDSU officials.

In a statement to NBC 7 Monday, chairman Adam Day said their goal is to come up with an "economic engine" that has "something for everyone."

Day shared a sense of optimism about the task ahead: “We said all along we would beat the fall deadline (for a stadium proposal), so we felt comfortable announcing the May deadline. All of us want the Chargers to remain in San Diego, and that’s our focus – finding a solution that works for everyone. We’re going to put the best plan forward.”

<![CDATA[Stadium Debate: Is Los Angeles a Better Option?]]> Mon, 23 Feb 2015 14:06:06 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/chargers+raiders+stadium+rendering+13.jpg

The Chargers claim they are only pursuing a new stadium in Los Angeles because it makes fiscal sense for the franchise. But, given San Diego’s sudden outpouring of support to keep the team here and L.A.’s history of not batting an eye when a football team leaves, one basic but overlooked question has to be asked:

Is Los Angeles a better financial option for an NFL franchise than San Diego is?

The answer to that is not as simple as it seems.

“A big premise for this has to be the number of corporations that might be available up there to sell luxury boxes and do all your marketing,” says George Belch, Professor of Sports Advertising and Marketing at San Diego State University.

“If you look at the size of the market, you have more companies up there, and you have the potential for more eyeballs. That’s what marketers pay for; eyeballs to have their messages or signage seen.”

A simple look at the size of the populations shows Los Angeles has a much larger pond to fish in. Add to that the presence of several more Fortune 500 companies in the L.A. area and it seems like a given that an NFL team would thrive there. But, there is a flip side to that.

“While it’s a big market, it hasn’t proved, necessarily, to be the best market for the NFL,” says Belch. “If the Chargers went in there, it would possibly be as second-fiddle to the Raiders. There may be more brand equity for the Raiders. We don’t know that exactly but there seems to be more support for the Raiders up there than the Chargers.”

While the Chargers claim 25-percent of their business comes from the Los Angeles and Orange County areas, there is zero doubt they have less of a brand name there than the Raiders do (just watch the video of the pep rally in Carson and count the difference in Raiders and Chargers jerseys). And don’t be so sure the sheer volume of available funds will overcome the lack of a community love connection.

“You have a lot of companies in L.A., but I don’t know that L.A. has proven to be a mecca for sponsorships. I don’t really see it.”

Plus, there is an awful lot of competition in Los Angeles. The Dodgers and Lakers are traditional mainstays. The Clippers, Kings and Ducks are in the middle of successful runs. USC and UCLA are Top-25 football programs with strong traditions. Even though the NFL is king in America, it’s unwise to think corporations will abandon something good to throw cash at the new kids in town.

“Companies have a finite amount of resources that they’re going to spend. We know the NFL is the most popular sport out there, but you still need to get people to connect to your team. If you walk in there with two teams, it becomes very challenging to win over the fans.”

None of this even takes in to account the possibility of a Rams move to L.A.

Aside from money, fan loyalty is another major factor to consider.

To identify the best places for football fans, WalletHub analyzed 142 U.S. cities with at least one college or professional football team based on 11 key metrics, ranging from the number of NFL and college football teams to average ticket prices. Here’s what Wallethub found out about being a football fan in San Diego.

Being a Football Fan in San Diego (1=Best, 71=Avg.)
•    3rd – Number of NFL & College Football (FBS) Teams
•    43rd – Performance Quality of Teams
•    17th – Average Ticket Price for an NFL Game
•    11th – Minimum Season Ticket Price for College Football Game
•    23rd – Number of Championships Won
•    10th – Number of Division Championships Won
•    64th – Fan Friendliness & Engagement on Social Media
•    25th – Franchise Value of NFL Teams

Overall that means San Diego came in 18th on the list, just behind Baltimore, MD, and just ahead of Kansas City, MO. Know where L.A. ranked on the list?

Tied for 97th with Salt Lake City, UT. Los Angeles was able to edge out Toledo, OH but finished one spot behind Muncie, IN.

This interactive map from WalletHub shows where all 142 cities rank:

Now, you’d have to imagine the city would climb on the list if it added an NFL team or two to its resume, but findings like this should give the Chargers pause.

They might not be getting the deal they want in San Diego right now; but, they might not find the grass any greener up north on a toxic waste dump in Carson.

Photo Credit: MANICA Architecture
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<![CDATA[Randy Jones Likes Padres Changes]]> Mon, 23 Feb 2015 12:26:49 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/160*120/Randy+Jones+Brown+Uniform.jpg

Randy Jones won a Cy Young award for the Padres. If that wasn't enough to endear him to the Friars faithful, after retiring he stayed in San Diego and became ingrained in the community.

Jones keeps close tabs on the franchise, working with them as a Spring Training instructor and a radio analyst for the pre- and post-game shows on The Mighty 1090. What makes Randy so darn fun to listen to is his knowledge and the fact he has no problem saying EXACTLY what is on his mind.

Good, bad or ugly, you will hear the truth. I talked with Jones before he heads out to Peoria again about his take on young pitchers, and got a very interesting bit of insight on a part of the program that didn't get much attention, but could turn the franchise in to a perennial winner.

<![CDATA[With Combine Over, Raiders Are Sitting Pretty]]> Mon, 23 Feb 2015 12:20:22 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/180*120/Kevyewhyttee.jpg

NFL analysts love to compile lists after covering the NFL Combine: the winners, the losers, the strongest and the fastest.

This time around, it’s clear that the Raiders can be put in the winners category.

Oakland, with the No. 4 overall pick in the draft, not only will be able to select a top-notch talent in a deep draft pool in the first round, but should be able to bring in significant contributors after Round 1. This particular draft looks very good in terms of wide receivers, defensive linemen, linebackers, running backs and offensive linemen, areas of need for a team that went 3-13 last season.

But with the No. 4 pick in their pocket, it’s now evident the Raiders are in a no-lose position in the first round.


* If USC defensive lineman Leonard Williams should fail to be selected by the first three teams, the Raiders will wind up with perhaps the best overall player in the draft. As Bill Williamson of ESPN.com wrote, “He is a wonderful talent and he’d be a steal at No. 4. He’d be a perfect fit for Oakland’s defense.”

* If Williams isn’t there, the Raiders will have their pick of the top receivers, either Alabama’s Amari Cooper or West Virginia’s Kevin White. Cooper is considered the most polished wideout in the draft and the surest bet. But in running a 4.35 40-yard dash at the Combine, White – who’s bigger than Cooper – opened some eyes. 

* If one of the top quarterbacks, Marcus Mariota or Jameis Winston, is still on the board when it comes time for the Raiders to pick, Oakland may be able to swing a deal for its fourth overall selection that could net the team many more picks in this and next year’s draft. Chase Goodbread of NFL.com has linked Mariota to the Eagles, where former Oregon coach Chip Kelly now works. The Eagles, however, have the 20th overall selection, probably way too low to land him. Should they decide to send a package of picks to the Raiders for the No. 4 choice, the Raiders could land multiple first- or second-round picks. The Redskins (at No. 5), Jets (at No. 6) and Browns (at Nos. 12 and 19) also might be willing to deal with the Raiders to take a shot at Mariota (should Winston be taken by the Bucs with the No. 1 pick).

No matter what, the Raiders are in great position. They have multiple needs.

“It’s not just receivers,” general manager Reggie McKenzie told the San Francisco Chronicle, of what he’s looking for. “But receiver is one of the positions I want to try and upgrade. Moving Austin (Howard) to tackle, I want to get an interior player. Another guy to compete with Latavius (Murray) in the backfield. I could go down the list. We need players.”


Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Who Will Be Padres' First Starter?]]> Mon, 23 Feb 2015 08:43:08 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/padres6P0222_1200x675_402923587964.jpg NBC 7's Derek Togerson reports on pitchers as spring training begins.]]> <![CDATA[Bolts Fans Get Their Say On Stadium Debate]]> Sun, 22 Feb 2015 19:45:34 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/chargers+raiders+stadium+rendering+14.jpg

We all knew the Chargers were desperate to get a new stadium to call home. But we didn’t realize they were desperate enough to team up with arch rivals the Oakland Raiders to build a joint stadium in Carson, CA.

After that twist in what is the San Diego stadium soap opera, we wanted to know if Charger fans were still backing their team or if this latest news is the straw that breaks the camels’ back. A movement called "Save Our Bolts" (www.saveourbolts.org) is organizing events to educate fans, so we thought that would be a good place to start.

Photo Credit: MANICA Architecture]]>
<![CDATA[The Birds Are Back In Town]]> Sun, 22 Feb 2015 15:58:44 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/GULLS_REACTION_FOR_WEB_1200x675_402681411633.jpg

Apart from a few short breaks, San Diego has been home to a professional (or at least semi-pro) hockey team since 1966. The majority of those years, the team was known as the Gulls, so the name means something in our town.

On Sunday afternoon at the Valley View Casino Center, we saw just how much it means when 8,500 people showed up to celebrate the return of hockey to San Diego.

The Anaheim Ducks held an ice breaking to welcome their new American Hockey League team to San Diego, and it was a no-brainer to call the team the Gulls. Even the logo is familiar, with a few minor tweaks, which were explained in a statement from the Ducks like this:

“The new logo pays homage to the legacy of the WCHL Gulls logo and features the Ducks color palette and other design elements, including the Ducks trademark windswept font. A touch of the signature Gulls blue was added to the Ducks color palette to embrace the hockey history and tradition of the community. The clubs new colors are orange, black, and blue.”

Ducks owners Henry and Susan Samueli made the drive down for the event and almost didn’t make it in time due to traffic, but did not seem to mind because it confirmed to them what a good idea it was to move its top developmental team down the road to San Diego.

The Gulls first game back will be this October.

<![CDATA[Crazy Week Ends On Positive Note]]> Sun, 22 Feb 2015 18:39:04 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/180*120/107849470%281%29.jpg

This has been one of the craziest weeks in San Diego sports history.

It was seven days ago, on Monday the 16th of February, that the Chargers and Mayor Kevin Faulconer’s appointed task force met face to face for the first time. Way back then in the BC days (that’s Before Carson), things seemed like they could proceed amicably, perhaps even swiftly.

But things are not always as they seem, now are they?

That meeting did not go well. The Chargers were upset with the Mayor for putting one of his political advisors in the room. Their contention was the task force is made up of civilians for a reason, so the last 13-plus years of politics can be left out.

So on Tuesday, Chargers special counsel Mark Fabiani sent a four-page letter to the Mayor’s office voicing the football team’s displeasure. That move was met with Mayor Faulconer firing off a letter of his own to Chargers team president Dean Spanos complaining about Fabiani’s combative demeanor. Faulconer also offered a face-to-face meeting with Spanos to try and clear the air, an idea met with a positive reaction.

So, we all thought things were going nice and smooth again. Then Thursday night happened.

News of the Chargers planning to build a new stadium in Carson, CA, with the help of the Oakland Raiders, sent shockwaves through San Diego. The mayor said this is not how you do business. The Chargers said their hand has been forced by a slow process and the threat of the Rams moving to Los Angeles.

On Friday, folks in Carson even held what they called a press conference to announce their plans for the stadium. What it ended up being was a pep rally with no plans being revealed, most likely because the land purchase has not yet been completed and they have no actual finalized plans.

All that did was seed more confusion, fear, anger, and even hope among the San Diego fan base, which lit up social media so fantastically you’d have thought Kim Kardashian was leaving Kanye West and marrying Tim Tebow, and TMZ has pictures to prove it.

So, finally, on Sunday morning, Spanos and Faulconer got together for a chat they simply called “productive.” Now, whether or not that means the team president and the Mayor will tell their employees to play nice and get things done inside the three month time frame Faulconer has outlined we’ll see in the next few days.

What is interesting is … All of this took place in a seven-day span. All of it has a direct impact on what could be a monumental moment in San Diego’s history. And perhaps even more incredible is … this is only the beginning.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Mayor, Spanos Meet About LA Stadium Plan ]]> Sun, 22 Feb 2015 14:47:16 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/raiders-chargers-carson-city-los-angeles-california-nfl-2.jpg

Mayor Kevin Faulconer confirmed Sunday that he and San Diego Chargers owner Dean Spanos met face-to-face for the first time since the city learned of the team's plans to share a stadium with the Oakland Raiders in Los Angeles County.

Faulconer would not reveal details about what was discussed but described the meeting as "productive."

In a written statement, the Chargers said Spanos outlined the reasoning behind the team's decision to pursue a joint stadium with the Raiders as an option if negotiations failed with the City of San Diego.

The statement also revealed that the city's stadium advisory panel had decided to "accelerate their work" and make a report available in the next three months.

The meeting is the first since Mayor Faulconer accused the Chargers ownership of dragging its feet with negotiations while at the same time working on the joint stadium in Carson.

An obviously frustrated Faulconer said Friday, "That’s not being upfront. That’s not how you do business.”

The Chargers said they pledge to work cooperatively with the Task Force in moving forward on a stadium agreement that works for everyone.