County Becomes Impact Player in San Diego Stadium Scramble

NBC 7's Gene Cubbison offers this analysis on the latest moves behind the Chargers stadium scramble.

After eight weeks of political shadow-boxing and misdirection plays, there's been a sudden, upward-momentum swing in the city's quest for a new stadium.

The county of San Diego has just checked into a lineup of civic interests dedicated to keeping the Chargers local, pledging help to move the long-awaited project forward.

"We're going to roll up our sleeves and we're going to do some work,” County Supervisor Ron Roberts told a scrum of journalists and TV camera crews at a noon-hour news conference Thursday outside the County Administration Center. “We’re going to join with the city in sharing some expenses so we can start to move forward on the first steps that are needed."

Setting aside frustrations and passive-aggressive hostility involving the Chargers' objections to rebuilding in Mission Valley, it would seem that confidence in San Diego’s big-ticket financing power has improved substantially.

Given the county’s credit ratings -- far superior to the city's – and newfound skin in the game, it’s clear the county could wind up being a game-changer.

Roberts has spoken of up-front “bridge loans” to bankroll construction efforts – but for modest starters, the county will split a half-million dollar tab for outside lawyers and investment bankers.

That alone could send a market signal to the NFL, and other cities hoping to land league franchises, that the entire region means business.

Said Mayor Kevin Faulconer: "For the first time, you're seeing the political will come together. I'm only interested in success. The people behind me are only interested in success. That is a powerful statement of where I think we need to go."

However, one of Roberts’ colleagues sounded a cautionary note – because observers including the Chargers warn of devils in the details such as downside investment risks.

"I love the Chargers, but I have to look at this as a business decision first," said Supervisor Dianne Jacob. "If county government puts skin into the game, we must make sure any agreement with the Chargers is a good deal for taxpayers … I will not support a deal that compromises essential public services and resources. We also will not put the county's financial health at risk."

It's been 50 years almost to the day that construction began on what later became Qualcomm Stadium, under a city-county "joint powers" authority that got the place built for $27 million.

Now it'll take that kind of teamwork to produce a billion-dollar plus replacement on the same site, which the Chargers are rejecting in favor of a hybrid stadium and convention facility in downtown's East Village.

Failing those options, and for bargaining leverage, the team is plotting a fallback move to a co-op home with the Raiders in the city of Carson -- efforts that are on a municipal fast track there.

Can San Diego overcome a potential underdog situation?

"We look forward to sitting down with the Chargers to negotiate and work with them in good faith -- as they have said they would do," City Attorney Jan Goldsmith

But there are growing doubts about whether the Bolts are really acting in good faith.

Will the merging of city and county efforts wind up keeping the team from leaving for greener turf in the L.A. market?

"We've had very positive conversations with the Chargers,” Faulconer said, “and will continue (to); very positive conversations with the NFL, for us to be successful."

Pressed on the sincerity of the Bolts’ commitment to a local solution, the mayor responded, dismissively: "I get asked a lot about Los Angeles. But I say, while I cannot control what's happening in Los Angeles, we can control what we're doing right here in San Diego. And this is what this is all about."

Meantime, the mayor's nine-member stadium advisory group is game-planning financial proposals they’ve vowed to submit by a May 20th deadline.

Whatever emerges from negotiations -- if something finally does -- will be subject to a countywide vote.

For their part, The Chargers issued a statement Thursday welcoming the involvement of the city attorney, outside counsel and investment bankers, and “look forward” to working with them.

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