Ex-Mayor Bob Filner may have come closer to a deal with the Chargers than any other city executive.

The Chargers have talked about their interest in a downtown stadium for years. But current Mayor Kevin Faulconer and a task force he assembled to make stadium recommendations decided a new Mission Valley stadium was the best option.

Filner, who was forced from office in August 2013, said in an exclusive interview with Voice of San Diego that he was on board with the Chargers’ wishes.

“I was the one who agreed to their basic framework, which was a downtown, not just a football stadium, but essentially a sports arena and a stadium where you can have basketball games and hockey games,” Filner said. “I thought that was the best way to go.”

The idea, Filner said, was to use the city-owned Mission Valley and Sports Arena properties to bankroll the city’s piece of the stadium bill.

Mark Fabiani, the Chargers’ stadium point man, backed up Filner’s take.

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“Mayor Filner is the only mayor who ever agreed with our vision to wrap the Sports Arena land, the Qualcomm land and a downtown parcel into one mega-project, using the proceeds from the sale or lease of the Qualcomm and Sports Arena land to make the city’s contribution to the project,” Fabiani wrote in an email.

That amounts to the basic foundation of a deal, more than what Faulconer and local leaders have reached with the Chargers in recent history. While Faulconer’s existing stadium and financing plans are further along than any in more than a decade, the Chargers have been clear about their distaste for them – and their intent to move to Los Angeles.

That isn’t to say that there wouldn’t have been hiccups in Filner’s talks with the Chargers.

A downtown stadium could certainly face significant environmental and development roadblocks.

Then there was the big game-changer Filner sought.

Filner said he planned to seek an equity stake in the team on behalf of the city, similar to the arrangement in Green Bay, Wis., a move the Chargers and the NFL would’ve been unlikely to embrace.

“I don’t know that (Chargers owner Dean) Spanos would’ve agreed but I had been, as Fabiani can attest to, I was the only one who agreed with the downtown concept and who knows what I could’ve gotten from it,” Filner said. “Unless I got something, I wasn’t going to do it.”

Fabiani said Filner never shared his equity stake proposal with the Chargers.

    This article relates to: Bob Filner, Chargers Stadium, Politics

    Written by Lisa Halverstadt

    Lisa writes about San Diego city and county governments. She welcomes story tips and questions. Contact her directly at lisa@vosd.org or 619.325.0528.

    Jay Byrd
    Jay Byrd

    Why can't Filner just go away?  All of his comments remind me of the presents dogs leave on my front lawn.  

    Paul Nalbandian
    Paul Nalbandian

    What SD needs is good ideas about how to resolve the current issue of an NFL team, the SD Chargers, playing in a stadium which lacks structural integrity not to mention is outdated by any standard.  In fact it costs the city money to operate Qualcomm with or without a tenant.  I also don't care about Filner's credibility I am interested in good ideas, regardless their origin.  

    The idea of replacing a couple of out dated city owned structures and replacing them with new structures which offer much more visitor and convention options and flexibility is intriguing regardless of who's idea it is.  I have called SD home since 1986, so yes I am a transplant and call SD my home with all the love and loyalty of the natives who are my friends and co workers, we all love SD the same let's not argue over degree.  

    Since Roger Hedgecock (try to contain yourself on editorials about Roger) left office SD has not seen anywhere near his leadership vision.  He oversaw the establishment of the original convention center and the second Mexico/U.S. crossing along with a focus of deterring illegal border crossings.  My point is that SD needs and deserves to have civic leadership with a vision and the skill to turn ideas into reality.  

    By the way where is it written that the current challenge/opportunity of addressing our old and dated sports facilities has to come at the expense of repairing pot holes or keeping libraries and parks open and well maintained?  Accomplishing both is being done all over the country everyday so please let's raise the level of conversation above the zero sum argument.  In fact let's not argue at all, rather let's try collaboration that takes into account a wide ranging set of visions and goals and prove to ourselves we are smart enough and love SD enough to put our individual agendas aside to build something greater for the next generation of San Diegans and attract even more events and visitors to our finest of cities.

    Eric Johnston
    Eric Johnston

    I'm sure Mr. Filner believes he would have cured cancer, too, if only he'd been allowed to remain in office.

    francesca subscriber

    Pallamary...That name is familiar.  Isn't he the man who organized Filner's recall?

    "Ruined the lives of so many." ?  Are you referring to those very politically connected women, from the port authority, hospitality industry, twenty years at the Union Tribune,...that Filner reportedly leered at, drooled on and blocked their exit?

    This week, on the news, people complaining about the smell of seal droppings.  Filner took care of that.  This last year, I had to drive out twice, pay $200. to replace the trash container that the city truck broke.  Filner replaced those free of charge. A deal, where the city is part owner of the Chargers, and uses revenues, to pay the city back, instead of my property tax money.?  Brilliant. 


    Sorry, Mr., Pallamary, there's no "mental health treatment" for greed.

    Michael Pallamary
    Michael Pallamary

    Mr. Filner. You must come to accept that you are in need of significant mental health treatment. Please focus your attention on yourself and do not involve yourself in the affairs of the public. You are not entitled to weigh in on the well being of others when you have ruined the lives of so many. Every time you get involved in the so-called "assistance" of others, you take advantage of these opportunities and the people in real need. No one is interested in your opinions and no one wants you to be involved in their affairs especially when you are the one in need. Get help.

    Dean Plassaras
    Dean Plassaras

    After the unbelievable mess of Spanos' incompetence, the Chargers have no other choice but to leave CA. Forget about downtown and similar nonsense. Game over.

    David Crossley
    David Crossley subscriber

    Great--except the pretty picture of the stadium above would have looked nothing like the one Filner claims he proposed, as the stadium would have needed a roof.  Not to mention the fact that all teams that have played basketball or hockey in facilities that could also host the NFL would not have played there long term, and would have required their own, smaller arena.

    Another thing to remember is that the sale of the Q site and arena site would have generated probably a much larger percentage of a public contribution--something the Chargers want now from San Diego, but aren't going to get.

    And another thing--that triangular piece of property between the pretty picture of a stadium and Petco Park with parking on it--currently is under construction.

    Dean Plassaras
    Dean Plassaras

    @David Crossley What Spanos failed to understand is that with the LA deal committed to Kroenke for a 100% privately funded stadium the era of stadium public contributions in California is over. Spanos now needs to look to the Mid-west or other NFL hungry places for a hybrid stadium. The California door is already shut closed and whatever goodwill existed in SD has evaporated. His choices are to continue to play at an aging Q past 2020 or pack his bags and move at least 1000 miles east or abroad.