The Chargers have decided not to move to Los Angeles this year. San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer has said repeatedly he is open to any option the Chargers may want to pursue to build a stadium and stay in San Diego.

But that might not be true for much longer.

The mayor also wants to expand the Convention Center on its current footprint, and a new deadline to do that is fast approaching. If he and the City Council push it forward, it would close off a downtown option the Chargers previously floated and that some fans and boosters say is still the team’s preferred plan.

In his recent State of the City speech, Faulconer made a bold pledge about pursuing a Convention Center expansion along the waterfront that slipped under the radar a bit.


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“And we will put a legally defensible plan on the ballot to finance this project,” he said.

This sentence is packed with significance. It means either he is going to follow through on his idea to seek approval from two-thirds of voters for a hotel-room tax hike to expand the Convention Center along the waterfront or that some other unknown financing plan will emerge. Courts threw out a previous attempt to do that because the city tried to raise the hotel-room tax without a vote of the people.

Either way, it will go to the ballot. And that plan is a direct affront to the plan the Chargers once advocated to build a separate annex to the Convention Center and link it to a new stadium — one subsidizing the other.

If the mayor wants to get a plan on the June ballot, the City Council will have to agree to put it there by March 10 — with preparations beginning several weeks earlier.

That means now.

Crucially, the mayor stopped short of saying that he was committed to getting the Convention Center measure on the June or November ballot — or even later. His spokesman, Craig Gustafson gave me this comment:

“There are many factors involved with deciding when to place an item on the ballot, one of which is other items that may appear on the same ballot. Expanding the convention center is a major priority, and we will bring it forward for a vote when we believe it has the best chance of being approved by the electorate,” Gustafson said.

It is highly unlikely, however, city officials would choose the November ballot because of a competing measure sponsored by attorney Cory Briggs with financial support from JMI Realty and John Moores. That measure also seeks to raise the hotel-room tax and provide an alternative route to financing a Convention Center expansion. But it would prohibit constructing the expansion along the waterfront and encourage it at a separate site, which could support a stadium as well.

Supporters of that plan have until May to collect the required signatures and say they’re confident it will qualify for the November ballot.

Thus, if the mayor misses the upcoming June deadline and avoids November 2016, his pledge to get his preferred expansion on the ballot would likely have to wait until 2018.

In other words, the mayor has a huge decision to make right now.

If the Chargers indicate they want to pursue a downtown stadium like the one they’ve sought in the past, the mayor will have to scrap this barely month-old pledge to put a contiguous Convention Center expansion on the ballot — or at least put it on hiatus indefinitely.

The Chargers’ special counsel and spokesman, Mark Fabiani, declined to comment.

    This article relates to: Chargers Stadium, Land Use, Must Reads

    Written by Scott Lewis

    I'm Scott Lewis, the editor in chief of Voice of San Diego. Please contact me if you'd like at scott.lewis@voiceofsandiego.org or 619.325.0527 and follow me on Twitter (it's a blast!): @vosdscott.

    32 comments
    Kenneth Thygerson
    Kenneth Thygerson

    2015 witnessed several major NFL stadium renovations.  Miami's Sun Life Stadium is undergoing a $400 mil. renovation.  Levi Stadium has spent an additional sum for 1,400 new seats for this year's Super Bowl.  Cleveland's stadium spent $120 mil. for renovations.  Even the Panther's are renovating.


    In San Diego, no one seems to take the renovation option seriously. It's not discussed.  Maybe we should spend some money to "consider" renovation ideas before spending over $1 bil..

    Dean Plassaras
    Dean Plassaras

    This article has a major logical flaw.


    It suggests that somehow a proposal made a year ago under the falsehood of a Carson stadium nonsense and with the city having a gun held against its head, is still a good basis for moving forward and that somehow we now have to hurry.


    Nothing could be further from the truth.


    The NFL totally hosed Spanos who is now at the mercy of the SD people whom he sought to terrorize.


    No need to tell you what is the fate of terrorists.


    Faulkoner needs to take his sweet time and realize that the "agreement to agree w/ Kroenke at a later day" which Spanos claims he has is not worth the paper it's written on.



    Scott Lewis
    Scott Lewis moderator administratormember

    @Dean Plassaras I don't know what Carson has to do with this. This deadline is the mayor's. It's his pledge to put the competing Convention Center plan on the ballot. My entire point is that if he does that, he cuts off the Chargers' long-held idea. And that may well be fine but it will be an interesting decision to watch for. 

    Dean Plassaras
    Dean Plassaras

    @Scott Lewis @Dean Plassaras And my point is that you never negotiate with and/or accommodate those who held you hostage for a prolonged period of time. The minute any mayor, anywhere, gives in to terrorists his political career is over not to mention the irreparable harm ensuing to his/her city's reputation.


    And I am not sure what exactly Faulkoner would be achieving by struggling to meet the first March 2016 deadline and/or any subsequent ones. For starters, a new stadium would cost far more than $1.1 Bil. which means his existing proposal for Mission Valley is already flawed and it makes no sense to switch now to procedural mode towards maintaining a high tempo tight deadline for a November ballot vote.


    This thing(proposal) needs to be renegotiated from scratch. Forget about the $350 Million public contribution because it accomplishes nothing.

    Phillip Franklin
    Phillip Franklin subscriber

    My only question is will this new stadium deal include bringing back Ryan Leaf as the quarterback for the Chargers?  I understand Ryan Leaf is out of jail now and bringing him back along with tax payers forking over a few billion dollars plus several million in in kickbacks plus a ticket sales guarantee all makes sense to our elected politicians.  If it lines their pockets it must be good for the locals.  I know the local TV stations and Union-Tribune will whole heatedly embrace this deal.  Plus I understand Ryan Leaf loves the weather here and would love to come back and play for Dean Spanos.    Yes it's a win-win situation which no one can deny.

    bgetzel
    bgetzel subscriber

    Spanos will, reluctantly, accept the mission valley stadium solution, since it will take to long to acquire land and get it on the November ballot. He must aim for a vote by that time, as he needs to make a final decision about L.A. (unless he gets an extension) by next January. I think that it is likely that the voters will not approve the stadium, followed by the Chargers announcing that they are moving to L.A. However, it is also likely that the economics of the L.A. deal will not work very favorably for Spanos (i.e. the lease with Kronke offers little upside and L.A. fans care little for the Chargers). It couldn't happen to a nicer guy!

    David Crossley
    David Crossley subscriber

    @bgetzel  --The deal in MV involves $350 mil from the city/county.  And what if that deal goes to the voters and passes?  Will Spanos come up with the remainder of the funds?  I highly doubt it.  I think the Chargers are a lame-duck franchise and will move to LA in 2017.  JMO

    Dean Plassaras
    Dean Plassaras

    @David Crossley @bgetzel There is no deal in LA for Spanos. An agreement to agree w/ Kroenke at a later day is not an agreement. Ask any lawyer and he will tell you that the BS Spanos is feeding us have no binding nature on either side.

    David Crossley
    David Crossley subscriber

    @Dean Plassaras @David Crossley @bgetzel  --Unless you were in whatever negotiations took place between the Chargers and Kroenke, you have no idea whether or not there is a deal in place for the Chargers in LA.  I based my comments on the press release saying the Chargers DO have a deal.  Nothing more.

    David Crossley
    David Crossley subscriber

    @Dean Plassaras @David Crossley @bgetzel  --So when is a deal not a deal?  Spanos says he has a deal in principle--you say he doesn't.  Have to go with Spanos on this.  Although I still think Spanos is going to sell the club, just not for at least a decade (to get around that pesky 20% tax on any sale of a franchise relocating to LA which is allegedly part of the relocation conditions).

    Dean Plassaras
    Dean Plassaras

    @David Crossley @Dean Plassaras @bgetzel There is no such a thing as a deal in principle. This is like saying we have the skeleton of a deal with important details to be finalized later. But until such details are finalized you then have no deal. You may try claiming you have one - for self-serving purposes - but the entire business world knows that you don't have a deal. As far as what Spanos thinks, I would like to remind you that he thought he had for sure a Carson deal last year until it was revealed that he hadn't. You don't have to be a business type to understand that the Rams in LA as a single team market concept is hardening faster than concrete poured yesterday.

    David Crossley
    David Crossley subscriber

    @Dean Plassaras @David Crossley @bgetzel  --Tell Spanos this.  I still have to believe him--unless of course he really doesn't have a deal, and he is just saying this over and over until he actually believes he does have a deal.  I don't know what is inside of Spanos's head, but I think that business savvy definitely isn't in there.

    David Crossley
    David Crossley subscriber

    @Dean Plassaras @David Crossley @bgetzel -- It has been said he has a deal in Inglewood.  Should the referendum (should it even get to that point) fail, the assumption is the Chargers will move to Inglewood.  I think if the referendum fails, Spanos will sell the club.

    La Playa Heritage
    La Playa Heritage subscribermember

    A Public Vote in June or November 2016 to pay for a Contiguous Waterfront Convention Center Expansion and/or Multi-Purpose NFL Stadium in downtown only needs 50% Voter Approval, Not 2/3. 


    Solution:  Public Vote to Increase Transient Occupancy Tax by 5% to 15.5% Maximum to the City's General Fund.  Used with Council Member Mark Kersey's Rebuild San Diego 50% Incremental TOT to Infrastructure. 


    Change Municipal Code to include "Online Travel Agency" creates new Unencumbered $50 million Cash for the City's General Fun. Annual +$50 million Cash with voted on wording change. 

    David Crossley
    David Crossley subscriber

    @La Playa Heritage  --There will probably be multiple ballot measures in November regarding a new stadium, which will cause confusion among the electorate, resulting in each and every ballot measure involving a new stadium to fail.

    Phillip Franklin
    Phillip Franklin subscriber

    I have said it so many times before and will continue to to keep saying it because it is simply the truth that anyone with an IQ over over 85 should be able to conclude. Dean Spanos is nothing more than someone who is trying to continue to screw this city out of taxpayer money.  He is determined to get the city and the county to pay for his operation and a new stadium whereby he can sell luxury boxes and what ever other development dollars he can scam.  He has absolutely zero intentions of using his own family money period.  Maybe it's that his family won't allow him to use their money when they know that it is so much cheaper to buy off the sleazy San Diego politicians who would sell their children for a large campaign contribution.  San Diego has had a corrupt local government  going back many decades.  The taxpayers here are fools.  Spanos has learned that from his dad.  That's is why he simply won't leave.  I have said from the get go that he won't leave. The city keeps giving him millions of taxpayer dollars year end and year out and he keeps asking for more. Look how hard the local media is trying to see that the tax payers keep feeding this bum.  


    The smartest man in the NFL is obviously Archie Manning.  He would have had his son Eli sit out an entire season and abandon his #1 position in the NFL draft rather than work for Dean Spanos.   Even Dean's so called friends who were supposed to approve his Carson plan all voted against him because they know he is nothing more than a two-bit scammer.  So that means he gets to stay in San Diego to continually try to scam the taxpayers here.  And this drama never ends.

    Dean Plassaras
    Dean Plassaras

    @Phillip Franklin It would be a terrible strategic mistake to put an NFL stadium downtown. As soon as the $2 Bil. construction is finished, talks of its eventual need for replacement in 25 years hence and $6 Bil. as the new future cost will start. All San Diego would win is the Net Present Value of an unending cash flow stream obligation of replacing old stadia with new in perpetuity, while constantly maintaining a rapidly depreciating asset. It would be a complete and total disaster for common sense.

    Phillip Franklin
    Phillip Franklin subscriber

    @Dean Plassaras @Phillip Franklin The era where a city like San Diego or any city can afford to spend this kind of money on a NFL sports stadium is coming to an end.  The NFL probably realizes this but it is something they don't want to give up.  San Diego has essentially a negative net worth in that it has an infrastructure need that will not only drown this city into debt, but will  cause for huge tax increases within the next few years.  As far as a downtown stadium the cost of just the and acquisition and moving the transportation yards will probably cost at least a billion alone.  Unfortunately this city is run by some of the most irresponsible politicians one can imagine.  They are like a bunch of Wall Street bankers who don't see any consequences of their actions.  All they want to do is look for campaign contributions from people like the Spanos family, who have for the last several years been the biggest  contributors to the Republican party in California.  This problem of public money money to special interests will only get much worse before it gets any better.   Dean Spanos is playing this for all its worth.  Spanos has absolutely no intentions whatsoever of putting up any money for this new stadium.  They convince the idiot voters with smoke and mirrors to approve of this outrageous scam.  The people of this city for the most part are simply idiots.  Did anyone really think Sapnos will spend one dime of his own money to move to LA?   He tried to pull some scam in Carson but every other NFL owner realized that he was a scammer and just handed LA over to Kroenke even though they hate him.

    Dean Plassaras
    Dean Plassaras

    @Phillip Franklin @Dean Plassaras Correct. For the record Kroenke has the financial muscle to build a 100% private stadium and with it an NFL Disneyland around it. Spanos is simply a liar, a schemer and the least competent of NFL owners. The NFL made the right decision and this so called "option" that Spanos has to move to LA is pure nonsense designed to give false advantage to one of their own. Nevertheless everyone can see that the emperor has no clothes.

    La Playa Heritage
    La Playa Heritage subscribermember

    A Public Vote in June or November 2016 to pay for a Contiguous Waterfront Convention Center Expansion and/or Multi-Purpose NFL Stadium in downtown only needs 50% Voter Approval, Not 2/3. 


    http://tinyurl.com/20160113a


    Solution:  Public Vote to Increase Transient Occupancy Tax by 5% to 15.5% Maximum to the City's General Fund.  Used with Council Member Mark Kersey's Rebuild San Diego 50% Incremental TOT to Infrastructure. 


    Change Municipal Code to include "Online Travel Agency" creates new Unencumbered $50 million Cash for the City's General Fund. 

    Bob Gardner
    Bob Gardner subscriber

    The biggest problem with this whole Charger stadium issue is that the local politicians, the mainstream TV stations, and of course the U-T all have a vested interest in the Chargers staying and playing in San Diego. They may all deny it, but they are all totally unobjective and pushing hard to build a new stadium. I just hope the public doesn't fall for all the hoopla as the rich establishment in San Diego tries to get the taxpayers to subsidize their activities. 

    Elmer Walker
    Elmer Walker subscriber

    If the "fans" are sincere about keeping the chargers then they should be willing to buy personal seat licenses. Say about 50K fans at $10K a piece would generate $500m. This plus naming rights plus the $300k from the league would pay for the stadium. No reason to have the taxpayers put in $350K promised by the city and county. Now if you fans are serious, offer to pay your license fee. If not, then I say give the Chargers nothing.

    Dean Plassaras
    Dean Plassaras

    If Spanos has a true option to go to LA - which he doesn't- then let him exercise it. Even though Kroenke would be delighted to have a not so smart owner pay 1/2 of his new stadium costs with zero participation in the surrounding real estate development, the truth is that Spanos is neither liked nor welcomed in LA. Therefore the city of SD is not obligated to offer any solutions or compromises to an otherwise trapped owner. For all practical purposes Spanos is effed. If I were the city of SD, I would not rush into anything for awhile, until Kroenke transforms LA via deep penetration to scorched earth for Spanos who is clearly unsuited to either live or die in LA.


    David Crossley
    David Crossley subscriber

    @Dean Plassaras  --You and I both know that Spanos doesn't have the money to pay half the cost of KroenkeWorld.  If he ends up there, it will be as a tenant--something the NFL claimed they didn't want.

    Edward Moretti
    Edward Moretti

    Now we'll see if Faulkner was really trying to keep Bolts in town or just bluffing all along. It'll make for a very interesting period in San Diego,

    David Crossley
    David Crossley subscriber

    @Edward Moretti  --What concerns me more is will Faulconer give into the demands of the Chargers, as they want roughly twice as much as the city/county have offered.

    Gregory Hay
    Gregory Hay subscriber

    @Edward Moretti You think *Faulkner* was the one bluffing? You don't happen to be wearing Spanos-colored glasses, do you?