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San Diego Chargers: Approval of stadium funds would be waste of money

The San Diego City Council is set Tuesday to decide whether to spend $2.1 million on planning for a new Chargers stadium -- despite the fact the team says it will be a “gigantic waste of taxpayer time and money.”

The money would fund a hurry-up environmental impact report on a possible replacement for Qualcomm Stadium in an effort to convince the Chargers and the barons of the NFL to keep the team from moving.

City leaders want an environmental impact report to be completed in time for a public vote in December or January on a financing plan for a new stadium. Mayor Kevin Faulconer has promised a public vote even if one is not required by law.

Mark Fabiani, the Chargers counsel on stadium matters, said it is impossible to develop a legally-valid environmental impact report on such short notice.

“The Chargers will have no part in the city’s misbegotten, doomed legal strategy,” Fabiani said. “And if the Chargers aren’t participating, why are some politicians proposing to waste the taxpayers’ money?”

To the dismay of Faulconer and others, the Chargers and the Oakland Raiders are planning a joint-use stadium in Carson. The NFL plans a meeting in Chicago on Aug. 11 to discuss relocation issues. San Diego leaders hope to talk to NFL officials Aug. 10.

The Chargers have broken off negotiations with the mayor over a proposed new stadium.

Faulconer has urged the council to approve the $2.1 million as a way to convince the NFL that San Diego, after a decade of inaction, is serious about building a replacement for aging Qualcomm.

A report to the council Monday by the city’s independent budget analyst said that if the money is approved, a final environmental impact report could be finished by the end of September.

But Fabiani notes that an environmental impact report for AEG’s Farmers Field took 17 months, and even the San Diego city attorney has warned that such a report could take a year or more.

The lawyer hired by San Diego to negotiate with the NFL has said that progress on an environmental impact report “is necessary for the city to remain in consideration for keeping the Chargers.”

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