After three meetings with city and county representatives, the San Diego Chargers' special counsel said there is no way they could get a stadium measure on a December ballot in a "legally defensible manner."
Counsel Mark Fabiani's conclusion contradicts the earlier announcement made by San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer, who called their two-hour meeting on Tuesday "a productive exchange." San Diego County Supervisor Ron Roberts said he thinks the team and the government are very close to a consensus.
While Fabiani thanked the city and county team for their work in trying to get the stadium ballot measure before voters this year, he went on to say it can't happen.
"Based on all of this work and discussion, the Chargers have concluded that it is not possible to place a ballot measure before voters in December 2015 in a legally defensible manner given the requirements of the State’s election law and the California Environmental Quality Act," said Fabiani's statement. "The various options that we have explored with the City’s experts all lead to the same result: Significant time-consuming litigation founded on multiple legal challenges, followed by a high risk of eventual defeat in the courts."
Fabiani wrote that the team is still committed to maintaining an open line of communication with the local government negotiators leading up to the NFL owners' special meeting in August. "That meeting may provide important information about what is likely to occur during the remainder of 2015," the counsel said.
In response to Fabiani's statement, the spokesman for the Citizens Stadium Advisory Group (CSAG), Tony Manolatos, sent NBC 7 this email:
"It appears the Chargers have pulled the plug on San Diego even though the City and County have gone out of their way to try and accommodate the team. Instead of working collaboratively on a solution, the Chargers have thrown up one road block after another in San Diego while working aggressively on stadium plans in Carson. It's disappointing, especially for fans."
Faulconer, Roberts and City Attorney Jan Goldsmith defended their negotiations thusfar, saying in a release that they've given the team multiple legally defensible options that fully comply with environmental laws. They even gave the Chargers a new timeline Tuesday, which includes a full environmental impact report by October in time for a January special election.
The city and county leaders say Tuesday's meeting ended with Chargers' representatives telling the group they would review those options and discuss them.
"Work has already begun on this environmental analysis and City staff and outside consultants are confident that we have a CEQA solution that meets the NFL timeline," the joint statement says. "San Diego voters should have the final say on whether this stadium plan moves forward.
"We are still at the table. We have all the ingredients for success in San Diego if the Chargers work with us. We can get this done if the Chargers want to get it done.”
Details about the closed door meetings remain murky. Officials have not said if their discussions are focusing on a stadium in Mission Valley or one downtown.
While CSAG put together a financial plan for the existing Qualcomm Stadium site, the Chargers have made it known they prefer a downtown option.