NFL exec: San Diego risks losing Chargers if financing vote delayed

NFL executive tells San Diego stadium advisory committee delayed financing vote could cost city the Chargers

San Diego risks losing its chance to keep the Chargers if it waits until the end of next year for a public vote on financing a new stadium, the NFL’s top official on relocation issues said Tuesday.

Eric Grubman met for 90 minutes behind closed doors with members of the city’s stadium advisory committee assigned by San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer to find a site and financing plan for a replacement for aging Qualcomm Stadium.

Faulconer, and other city officials, have insisted that the public will get to vote on the financing plan even if it is not legally required. The logical time for such a vote is November 2016 when other citywide issues, including possibly a mayoral runoff, will be on the ballot.

But Grubman told reporters that that might be too late. The NFL is considering pushing up the schedule for voting on whether to allow any teams to relocate for the 2016 season, he said.

The Chargers and Oakland Raiders have announced plans for a possible joint-use stadium in Carson. Boosters there are moving to avoid a public vote in an effort to expedite the project.

The same is true in Inglewood where St. Louis Rams owner Stan Kroenke has proposed building a stadium that could accommodate two teams. For a decade the Chargers have requested help from City Hall in building a new stadium, a request that languished until Kroenke began looking at Inglewood.

San Diego officials appear unmovable on the issue of a public vote even if the financing plan does not require a tax increase, which, by law, must be approved by a two-thirds vote.

But Grubman, meeting with reporters, said that “to wait until the end of next year to get the vote it seems to me to be very risky.”

Still, Adam Day, chairman of the mayor’s advisory committee, called the meeting with Grubman a positive step toward keeping the Chargers in San Diego. The committee has promised to unveil a financing plan May 20.

The committee has said that the best location is the 166-acre, city-owned Qualcomm site in Mission Valley, although that choice has not won favor with Chargers ownership, which prefers a downtown site.

Grubman said that having disagreement between the city and the team over matters involving a proposed stadium is "probably a recipe for failure" in getting voter approval.

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