On Saturday, Mark Fabiani, the San Diego Chargers’ special counsel announced that the team will file for relocation to Los Angeles when the NFL opens the application window in January.
Fabiani, interviewed on The Mighty 1090 AM radio show, referred to the St. Louis Rams and Oakland Raiders, two other teams looking to relocate, when he admitted the Chargers will file, asserting, “At this point yes, because there’s no sign that the other team or teams are not going to file. Everyone assumes all three teams will file, and in that case we can’t afford to lose our market in Los Angeles and Orange County.”
Host Dan Sileo started the ball rolling when he asked Fabiani about a plan developed by a group called San Diegans for Open Government that was authored by attorney Cory Briggs. The plan, called the “Pay Their Own Way” initiative, would fund the construction of a new downtown stadium for the Chargers without using any taxpayer money. Instead, funds would be raised by hiking the city’s Transient Occupancy Tax (TOT) from 10.5 percent to 15.5 percent.
Sileo asked, “To sit there and think that the hotel industry is going to and self-evaluate themselves and say “Let’s take more out of our money to finance a tree hut or convention center, or whatever facility, that we’re gonna do it? Never gonna happen. Am I wrong?”
Well, Dan, I can’t argue with anything you said; I think you’re reading the room exactly right. But nonetheless, what Cory Briggs has done is a very valuable thing for the city, because he’s shining a bright light on something people have known for many, many years but no one’s ever done anything about, and that’s that the hotel industry pulls the strings of a lot of puppets down at City Hall, and it’s been true for as long ss we’ve been working on this stadium issue. Every step of the way, throughout the years, the hotel industry has blocked us when we wanted to look at various options downtown, and so I think what Mr. Briggs has done is focus the public’s attention on this and that’s a great thing for San Diego, because whether it’s an issue of taxes or not, people need to understand what a pernicious influence on the city these hoteliers have been for many, many years.
Sileo asked, “Would this be something the Chargers would get seriously back to the table and look at?”
Well, the problem, of course, is the election on Cory Briggs’ initiative won’t happen until next June. Of course, that’s months after the NFL is scheduled to make its decision about Los Angeles. But again, in a hypothetical world, if there were no decision made on Los Angeles by the NFL for another year, and all of the teams were sent back to their home markets, obviously we would look very carefully at what Mr. Briggs is proposing, and on what else we might be able to do on the citizens’ initiative front in San Diego, because, again, what Briggs is doing is bypassing the normal process. He’s doing what we did in Carson, what Stan Kroenke did in Inglewood. He’s going out and gathering signatures to be able to put something on the ballot without the involvement of the mayor and city council.
And I think going forward, if there’s a solution here in San Diego it’s gonna have to come from the citizen’s initiative process. It’s pretty clear at this point that the city leadership doesn’t listen to anything the Chargers say; we advised them in January not to appoint a task force because it would waste too much time; they would never be able to finish their environmental review in time; they ignored that, and yet that’s exactly what happened; in June we advised them, “Please don’t go ahead with a quickie environmental impact report, it will never withstand judicial scrutiny, we’ll never be on board with that,” they ignored it. So if you’re going to be ignored again and again and again by city leaders, the only thing you can do is what Cory Briggs is doing, and that is go out and gather your signatures and try to get something done directly with the people.
Sileo later queried, “Everybody that’s been covering this story believes that all three are going to file for relocation come January. Will the Chargers?”
Fabiano responded, “At this point, yes, because there’s no sign that the other team, or teams are not going to file, as you just said; everyone assumes all three teams will file, and in that case, we can’t afford to lose our market in Los Angeles and Orange County. As you know, 25% of our season ticket business comes from those markets so we have to be able to protect those markets.”
Teams wanting to relocate have from Jan. 1 to Feb. 15 to file, and need approval from 24 of the league’s 32 owners to move.