As if the LaDainian Tomlinson-A.J. Smith spat wasn't enough for San Diego fans to digest, the Chargers signed a deal with Wasserman Media Group on Monday to market Southern California's only NFL team in Los Angeles and Orange counties.
Any tie-in between the Chargers and Los Angeles always gets San Diegans wondering if it's a precursor to the Chargers moving up the freeway to the nation's second-biggest market, which has been without an NFL team since the Raiders and Rams bolted before the 1995 season.
This one isn't, said attorney Mark Fabiani, who's been trying since 2002 to get the Chargers a new stadium deal in San Diego County.
In a deal that was first reported on the Los Angeles Times, Wasserman Media Group will help the Chargers sell luxury suites and club seats to fans in LA and Orange counties.
"It's a side issue," Fabiani said. "It has nothing to do with a stadium search. We continue to search for a solution in San Diego County. Nothing has changed about that."
Fabiani said he understands why people might read between the lines, much as they did when the Chargers moved their training camp to the LA suburb of Carson for a few summers earlier this decade.
"People should also understand that if they want us to re-sign our top players, if they want us to have enough revenue to be able to pay all of our stars on a long-term basis, to do that you need to generate additional revenue," Fabiani said. "Orange County and Los Angeles County are two of the most lucrative markets in the world. They're both unserved right now by an NFL team and we don't see any reason why we shouldn't try to improve our financial position by marketing there."
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Casey Wasserman, the grandson of the late Hollywood mogul Lew Wasserman, is chairman and CEO of LA-based Wasserman Media Group. Casey Wasserman, who owns an Arena Football League team, has wanted for years to bring an NFL team to Los Angeles.
Wasserman Media Group said in a statement that its marketing deal with the Chargers "is unrelated to any prior public speculation involving Casey Wasserman and the Los Angeles football market."
The Chargers say they need a new stadium to replace aging Qualcomm Stadium in Mission Valley. The team has narrowed its search to two possible sites in suburban Chula Vista, south of downtown San Diego.
Chula Vista Mayor Cheryl Cox told the San Diego Union-Tribune said she had not heard about the marketing push and has not spoken with team representatives since April.
"I want to be clear -- we've been at this for seven years now, we've spent more than $10 million and my judgment is that we're a lot closer to the end of the process than we are the beginning," Fabiani said. "It's not a process that can go on forever, but for the time being we're continuing to focus on San Diego County."