San Diego Stadium Update: City, NFL to Meet Again

San Diego officials will get a chance to woo the league

The city of San Diego may not be making a presentation at the NFL Owners Meetings in October, but that doesn’t mean things on the stadium front are not progressing.

On Tuesday Eric Grubman, the NFL’s President of Business Ventures and designated overseer of the Los Angeles stadium situation, announced neither San Diego nor St. Louis will be addressing the owners as originally planned. Instead the league wants to set up separate meetings with each city and the Committee on Los Angeles Opportunities to make a more intimate pitch that’s not wedged in to an already full docket at the meetings that are scheduled for the first weekend of October in New York.

The Committee, which is made up of owners from six NFL teams (Robert Kraft of New England, John Mara of the N.Y. Giants, Art Rooney II of Pittsburgh, Bob McNair of Houston, Clark Hunt of Kansas City and Jerry Richardson of Carolina), is working to get meetings set up possibly by the end of October.

On Wednesday San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer seemed encouraged by the change in plans.

“The City and County team continue to have regular discussions and a positive dialogue with NFL officials,” Faulconer told NBC 7. “To better allow for an in-depth presentation, the NFL is looking at having hometown cities present to a smaller setting of team owners. We look forward to making a more detailed presentation to NFL owners at an upcoming time to update them on San Diego's progress and commitment to keeping the Chargers in San Diego.”

San Diego’s elected officials are moving ahead with their plans despite the expiration of their self-imposed September 11 deadline to negotiate a new stadium deal with the Chargers. The NFL office would also like to set up a “town hall”-style public meeting in each market to try and get a feel for how much the fan bases in San Diego and St. Louis would be harmed by a team leaving (or be able to support a team if it stayed and constructed a new facility). Grubman said it’s unlikely those meetings would take place before the October 6-7 owners meetings.

One interesting twist to this saga is the San Diego group’s hiring of Populous to design conceptual art for a new stadium. Populous has been contracted to work on 14 NFL stadiums. Five of them are Gillette Stadium in New England, Heinz Field in Pittsburgh, NRG Stadium in Houston, The New Arrowhead in Kansas City and Bank of American Stadium in Charlotte. It’s very likely no coincidence that the San Diego government went with an architecture firm that is in good graces with five of the six men on the NFL Committee on Los Angeles Opportunities.

Rams owner Stan Kroekne has contracted with the design firm HKS, which did AT&T Stadium in Dallas, Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis and the still under construction U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis. The Chargers and Raiders chose Manica Architecture, which did the original Reliant Stadium in Houston before it was redesigned by Populous, and handled the renovation of Sun Life Stadium in Miami.

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