What Will Come Next in the ‘Stadium Soap Opera?'

Annie Heilbrunn offers commentary in the ongoing sega of the San Diego Chargers and where the team will call home.

The stadium situation is reading more like a stadium soap opera.

Put aside the relationship between the Chargers and the fans (who just can’t decide whether to believe their scorned lover is committed for the long haul) and instead, focus on the team, Mayor

Faulconer and City Attorney Jan Goldsmith, who seem to be scrapping behind the bleachers for the power to pull rank.

Yesterday, Voice of San Diego published emails between the three that were sent around the end of April -- which Goldsmith had previously tried to keep hidden from the public, as he said they might be “damaging” to the stadium efforts in San Diego.

What was uncovered was a push from Goldsmith to muzzle both the Chargers and the mayor (including the Citizens’ Stadium Advisory Group) from speaking publicly about the situation (thereby “freezing out the media”). Goldsmith also suggested that CSAG should simply hand over their proposal to the Mayor, rather than hold a public press conference (which they ultimately did). Finally, Goldsmith encouraged negotiations between the city and county’s hired consultants and the Chargers to begin immediately, rather than after the task force submitted their proposal.

While Fabiani agreed with Goldsmith, the mayor’s office did not, citing that the suggestions were detrimental to the relationship between the press and the public.

I’d argue that both parties have validity here. The Mayor had invested in his belief that an open, public task force was the proper way to go about this, though it took five months.

Goldsmith might be seen as a little too intertwined with Fabiani (and perhaps he is) but at the same time, he’s pointing out a valid issue as far as the timeline is concerned.

Simply: We’re wasting time here, guys.

If the NFL really will put a team in Los Angeles in 2016 – rather than wait another year or two, which isn’t likely, but could happen – then San Diego is operating with a nearly impossible timeline. Based on what CSAG presented, there are a host of problems that could take one to two years to figure out, such as land re-zoning, environmental impact reviews, selling $225 million of land quickly and when a public vote could occur and what the results of that vote would mean.

For some reason, the experts were not involved with the CSAG proposal. In fact, the experts have just come in this week, when the two sides sat together to negotiate for the first time since the CSAG proposal was made public.

Those discussions are said to be centered around the timeline, rather than financials. (Why discuss financials if there isn’t a viable plan?)

Perhaps the Chargers are posturing here, and trying to make themselves look like they’re making an effort while in reality, they’ve given the city an impossible deadline and mixed signals.

Could the mayor have started on the effort to keep the Chargers in San Diego sooner, rather than waiting almost a year after taking office? Yes. Was it his prerogative not to? Yes.

It could be that the final episode of this soap opera is one of bad timing, bad luck and regret. It could be one of a dysfunctional relationship that was doomed years ago but neither party wanted to let go.

Or perhaps both wanted to move on, but ego wouldn’t allow either to walk away.

The twists and turns don’t appear to be slowing anytime soon.

Stay tuned.

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