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Gov. Jerry Brown’s Hail Mary to Keep Chargers in San Diego

California Governor Jerry Brown is inserting himself into the highly contentious San Diego Chargers stadium fight, expediting California’s laborious environmental review process, giving a semblance of hope that the team could stay in its current city if it agrees to a newly proposed stadium. The team’s ownership has been pushing hard for a move to the Los Angeles market.

The fight between city officials and Chargers ownership ranks among the greater battles. A new stadium and how to fund it were central to the public battle, but not lost on many was the question of whether the two sides really wanted to seal a deal to keep the Chargers in its home of over half a century.

One of the doubts cast on a project by the Chargers organization was whether a new stadium could meet a reasonable timeline given California’s notoriously cumbersome and defeating environmental review process.

Two stadiums between three teams have been proposed for the Los Angeles market, and governmental approvals have been met with extreme expediency. With laser focus on placing a team back in the barren Los Angeles market, the NFL is visiting the hometowns of the Chargers, Rams, and Raiders for town hall-style public forums.

Public meetings will take place from 7-10 p.m. local time on October 27 in St. Louis, Missouri; October 28 in San Diego, California; and October 29 in Oakland, California. NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell’s executive staff will take audience questions and comments.

Enter Governor Brown for the San Diego stadium project’s last-ditch rescue effort. Brown has certified the Mission Valley area project for expedited environmental review, The San Diego Union-Tribune (U-T) reported. Speaking on Wednesday, San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer characterized Brown’s decision as “a big step forward for the Mission Valley stadium plan.”

The certification merely expedites potential lawsuits, according to the U-T report. Such expediency for the process that falls under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) can shorten the process by 12-18 months. Keep in mind that the state Legislature’s Joint Budget Committee must approve the expedited environmental review process within 30 days.

The Mission Valley project, to be located next to the current stadium, has proposed funding through a mix of public funds, contribution from the team’s ownership, a loan from the NFL, and other fairly creative funding ideas–from concerts and motocross events to personal seat licenses. The total projected cost comes in around $1.1 billion, the least between it and the two stadiums proposed for Los Angeles.

The Raiders and Rams once shared the L.A. market, each leaving in 1994 for Oakland and St. Louis, respectively. The Raiders spent 14 years in L.A., the Rams, 49. San Diego spent but one year in Los Angeles over 50 years ago.

Many believe this may all be too little, too late to save the future of Chargers football in San Diego. But with questions as to which team the NFL will tap for a return to the L.A. market, the possibility, however bleak, of the Chargers staying in San Diego still exists.

Follow Michelle Moons on Twitter @MichelleDiana.

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