San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer promised Wednesday night that by this fall a plan will be ready for public consideration on building a new Chargers stadium and keeping “our football team” from moving to Los Angeles.
“At no point in San Diego’s history has the possibility of the Chargers moving to Los Angeles been more real,” Faulconer said in his State of the City address.
“It is time for us, as a community, to come together to decide the future of the Chargers in San Diego,” he said during a 35-minute speech that also dealt with civic issues of infrastructure, policing, reforming city’s finances, and outsourcing city government jobs.
Faulconer said that by the end of January he will announce a task force of civic leaders to recommend a location and financing plan for a stadium to replace aging Qualcomm Stadium and keep the Chargers in San Diego "where they belong."
The two locations to be studied will be the current Mission Valley location, or as part of an expanded convention center downtown, he said.
For more than a decade, the Charger owners have said they need a new stadium to compete with stadiums at other NFL cities.
"After 13 -- now going on 14 -- years of work by the Chargers, the speech contained no specifics, and so there is nothing for us to comment on," Chargers spokesman Mark Fabiani said.
Under its lease for Qualcomm Stadium, the Chargers can leave at any time. The Spanos family announced that it will not leave for the 2015 season but made no promises for 2016.
Concern about losing the Chargers to Los Angeles was increased when St. Louis Rams owner Stan Kroenke announced recently that he has joined a partnership to build a stadium in Inglewood, a possible precursor to moving his team.
Some San Diego civic leaders have worried that the Chargers might move ahead of Kroenke to keep him from moving his team and cutting into the Los Angeles County-Orange County market. The two counties, and the Inland Empire, represent 25% of the Chargers’ season ticket base.
“I think we have to do something in 2015 or we’re going to lose them,” said Rep. Scott Peters (D-San Diego).
Faulconer, a Republican, was elected in February to succeed Bob Filner, who resigned amid a sex harassment scandal. Faulconer said that any plan for a stadium “must present a good and fair deal for San Diego taxpayers” and be put to a public vote, probably in 2016.
The strategy of a task force has been used before. The two locations mentioned by Faulconer – Mission Valley and downtown – have also figured in previous proposals.
But Faulconer is the first mayor to promise that “this decision will be made on my watch as mayor.”