Chargers statement to San Diego NFL Town Hall meeting

Here is the statement the Chargers will make tonight at the San Diego NFL Town Hall meeting.

 Over the 14 years the Chargers have worked to find a way to build a new stadium in San Diego, we have attended hundreds of town halls, community meetings and fan forums. So we’ve been fortunate, over that long period, to meet some of you in the audience here tonight.

And for those of you who are attending your first stadium forum, thanks for taking the time to come out tonight.

Why We Are Here Tonight

 There’s no reason to spend much time tonight reviewing our 14 years of work, except to say that we’ve tried everything we could think of to find a stadium solution:

# We made nine separate stadium proposals.

# We worked with seven separate San Diego City mayors over one ten year-period.

# And we searched for solutions in Chula Vista, Oceanside, National City, and Escondido.

 Throughout all this time, though, at least one thing has been clear: The failure to come up with an actionable plan has absolutely nothing to do with the great Charger fans. The fans are certainly not to blame for the fact that, over the years, one elected official after another has been elected after promising “no taxpayer money for an NFL stadium.”

 So it is incredibly unfair that the Chargers’ great fans are now bearing the brunt of the decisions made by politicians over the last 14 years.

 For our part, the Chargers have made clear from the very outset that we would do everything possible to find a stadium solution in the San Diego region – and we have worked hard at that for many years.

 And the Chargers have also made clear we will respect whatever decision the NFL’s owners make regarding both San Diego and Los Angeles. We repeat that commitment of respect for the NFL process again here tonight.

The Reason the Chargers Cannot Accept the City’s Latest Proposal

 Before I close, I would like to talk for just a moment about why the Chargers cannot accept the City’s latest proposal.

 The City remains firmly committed to what is — in our view — a fatally flawed environmental review process that will eventually be struck down by the courts – but only after lengthy litigation.

 In short, we believe that if we go along with the City’s strategy, we will suffer the same fate as the City’s recent convention center expansion project: Many years of wasted work. Many millions of wasted dollars. And zero results in the end.

 Now, when I speak to groups around town, the number one question I get is this: How can the Chargers’ lawyers feel so strongly about this one way, and the City’s lawyers feel equally strongly in the opposite direction?

 The answer is simple: How the Chargers look at this issue, and how the City looks at this issue, is determined entirely by the risk that each party is being asked to take.

#  Under the City’s quickie environmental review plan, the City takes no risk. If the City’s plan loses at the ballot box, or is struck down after several years of litigation by the courts, the City loses nothing other than the taxpayer money that will go to the successful plaintiffs’ lawyers. So, if you are the City, why wouldn’t you bet on even a small chance of winning, because if you lose, you don’t really lose?

# The Chargers, on the other hand, are being asked to assume all of the risk. The team bears all the risk of losing the election, or losing the EIR challenge in court. The franchise will have wasted several years of time, given up a certain opportunity in the Los Angeles market, and, when all is said and done, likely squandered whatever negotiating leverage we had in San Diego.

# We hope you can understand why the Chargers are – after 14 years of effort – not willing to assume such enormous risks.

What Happens Next

 In closing, I want to again express the commitment of the entire Chargers organization to honor the process established by the NFL’s owners and to respect the results of that process, whatever they may be.

Poll: If the Chargers came to L.A. and rebranded, what would you name them?

The NFL’s San Diego Chargers are one of the teams gunning to come to Los Angeles. And they might leave their old name behind. What do you think of these potential names for the rebranded team? And if none of them strike your particular fancy, enter your own:

Would Chargers consider re-branding upon moving to L.A.?

The Qualcomm Stadium home of the San Diego Chargers was taken over by Raiders fans on Sunday, the result of Southern California Raiders fans making a bold statement to the National Football League that the Silver and Black will be well supported should they be approved for relocation to Los Angeles.

It was a powerful reminder just how popular the Raiders are in Southern California, and perhaps a prediction of the loud, immediate bang they’ll make if they move back to L.A.

Ironically, it came at the expense of the Chargers, who the Raiders have partnered with to build a privately funded stadium in Carson.

And it might be cause for the Chargers to consider taking a dramatic step to better guarantee they’ll be successful in Los Angeles.

One that will grant them and their new city the rare chance to create history together.

And who knows, maybe even strengthen their case for L.A. relocation approval.

But more on that in a bit.

The Raiders and Chargers are in a fight with the St. Louis Rams to claim two open spots in Los Angeles, with the Rams eying their own stadium project in Inglewood.

The NFL’s 32 owners are expected to decide the matter in January.

By league rule, the winning team/site requires 24 yes votes.

Fellow owners will take everything into account before making one of the most important decisions in league history, among them how well they believe each each team will be received upon entering the Los Angeles market.

Which brings us back to Sunday in San Diego, where Raiders fans made it clear the Silver and Black will be just fine.

Their deep roots in L.A. – they played here from 1982 to 1994 – and the wide-spread Raiders Nation throughout California pretty much guarantees it.

Based on some texts messages I received during the game, it’s obvious league officials took notice of what happened.

On the flip side, it was impossible not to notice how easily Qualcomm Stadium got taken over by another team’s fans.

Granted, it’s a fairly usual occurrence in San Diego, as some Chargers season ticket holders commonly sell a portion of their seats to the most popular games to help them afford to rest of the season.

But considering the current circumstances, it makes you wonder how well the Chargers will be embraced in L.A.

For the record, with 21 million people in the greater Los Angeles region and capable front office people in place to reach out to them, I frankly don’t think the Chargers will have any trouble building and holding onto a fan base over the long haul.

But it would be naive to think Chargers owner Dean Spanos and his staff aren’t debating ways to insure they hit the ground hard the moment they step foot in Los Angeles.

Those conversations have stirred plenty of interesting ideas.

Here is one they have to consider: A complete franchise makeover.

Announce to Los Angeles you are arriving in Tinseltown a clean canvas, that you are leaving the Chargers colors and logo in San Diego.

Invite fans to jump aboard a brand new franchise, literally at ground zero.

Inter-actively allow them to help pick the name, logo and color schemes.

The Dons or Conquistadors or Vaqueros, perhaps.

You want to be L.A.’s team?

Then cast a net wide enough to capture the interest and imagination of everyone, and let them help you create your new identity.

It’s been 20 years since Los Angeles had a team to root for, but even longer since we had a team that was actually born here.

Ironically that was the Chargers, who spent their first year of existence in 1960 playing at the L.A. Coliseum.

And while it would be cool to re-introduce Los Angeles to it’s long-buried relationship with the Chargers – I’ve heard they will go back to their original L.A. Chargers uniforms if they stay as is – it would be even cooler to give Los Angeles the chance to give birth to its own football team.

The Rams arrived here from Cleveland in 1946. The Raiders from Oakland in 1982. Both would make a seamless transition back to Los Angeles.

The Chargers would be the second team in town no matter who they partner with.

That’s not a bad thing, necessarily.
But by doing something bold and unique, they might just give themselves a chance to be No.1.

It’s rare when anyone gets the chance create history. But the Chargers and Los Angeles might just get that opportunity.

Take advantage of it. Embrace it. Have fun with it.

Not only will it help reel in the current Los Angeles resident who doesn’t have a specific team rooting interest, it might also motivate fans who currently support out-of-area teams to switch alliance.

I can’t see a New York Giants or Minnesota Vikings or Buffalo Bills fan living in L.A. jumping ship to the Chargers or Rams or Raiders.

But I could see them switch rooting interest if the choice was brand new team.

That’s exactly what happened when the Houston Oilers became the Tennessee Titans and the Cleveland Browns became the Baltimore Ravens.

And it could happen here, too.

Raiders owner Mark Davis opens up about a Silver and Black return to Los Angeles

SAN DIEGO – Oakland Raiders owner Mark Davis stood at the 35-yard-line at Qualcomm Stadium Sunday and did a thorough scan of his surroundings.

Davis was in San Diego, where his Raiders were about to play their  AFC west arch-rival Chargers. But considering the ocean of silver of black that covered every section of the stadium., he might as well been in Oakland.

Or, dare we say, Los Angeles, where he and Chargers owner Dean Spanos hope to relocate their teams next season.

“The Raiders Nation is strong today,” Davis said, beaming.

It was an odd scene – and afternoon – to be sure. Davis and Spanos have developed what they insist is an unbreakable bond in their quest to cure their long-time local stadium fights by building a joint stadium in Carson.

But Sunday it was time to set all that aside. There was a game to play. An important one.

“Dean and I have a great relationship. But I want to kick his ass today. Don’t ever think that’s anything but the case,” Davis said. “This is a vicious rivalry. And that hasn’t changed.”

But both understand there is a bigger game at stake, and that is securing their long-range futures by locking down new homes.

The Raiders and Chargers play in the two oldest stadiums in the NFL, and both sit near the bottom in league revenue.

Both owners insist it’s an unsustainable situation.

“Trying to get a stadium, it’s the most important thing as far as the future of our organizations,” Davis said. “Literally the most important thing. That is what this is all about.”

Neither Davis or Spanos believes their local markets offer hope anymore, at least as it relates to the National Football League’s current time line to return to Los Angeles in time for the 2016 season.

In fact, Davis said there haven’t been any official talks with Oakland leaders in more than two months.

“We’ve gotten to the point now, unless you have something to offer, something different, there is no reason to talk,” Davis said.

For both, it’s full steam ahead to Los Angeles.

Meanwhile, the NFL is pondering two L.A. stadium bids – the Chargers and Raiders Carson project and St. Louis Rams owner Stan Kroenke’s Inglewood proposal. A vote by the league’s 32 owners is expected in January.

Per relocation guidelines, it will take 24 yes votes to approve any move.

Davis and Spanos are convinced they meet all of the league’s relocation guidelines, as both have spent more than a decade in unsuccessful fights to get new local stadiums.

And both insist the tight partnership they’ve forged will create a long-term marriage that helps facilitate a successful return to Los Angeles.

Now they just need enough owners to side with them.

“If it’s objective, there is no doubt in my mind we’ve hit every relocation criteria,” Davis insisted.

And if anyone doubts whether the Silver and Black will find sufficient fan support in L.A. all they needed to do was look at the manner in which Raiders Nation took over Qualcomm Stadium.

This was a home game for the Raiders, period, as legions of their L.A. and Southern California based fans made the trip to San Diego to shower the Silver and Black with support as they hammered the Chargers.

And it offered a precursor to what might happen if the Raiders and Chargers end up in Carson.

Davis is convinced the Raiders will nail Los Angeles.

“There is no question in our mind that we’re one of the teams that could make it go in L.A.,” Davis said, confidently. “There is a Raiders Nation there. We’d kick ass.”

Getting there is the question, and for the Raiders that means overcoming a few lingering negative scouting reports. Like the one created by their last stay in Los Angeles when an element of Raiders fans turned part the L.A. Coliseum into fight zones on game days. The thinking being, it will be more of the same if the Raiders return.

It’s a sensitive subject for Davis, who fully acknowledges some of the mistakes the Raiders made three decades ago. But it’s one he is absolutely willing to meet head on.

And it’s process that’s already started in Oakland, where the Raiders have implemented and enforced a strict code of conduct for ticket holders and created a better, safer fan-day experience.

“It’s absolutely something we’ve addressed over the last few years,” Davis said. “We’ve been doing a phenomenal job in that regard over the last few years. Our stadium is one of the safest, I believe, and our fans some of the most knowledgeable about the game. This who thing has been unfair to them.”
Davis promised it will continue in Los Angeles.

“We understand that, should we come down to Los Angeles, that there will be an image re-engineering because of how it was when we left L.A.,” Davis said. “We understand how it was left off, what was going on in the 80’s and early 90’s in society in general. It was a confluence of things that happened. I’m not blind to any of it. And we will do everything we can to make it right.”

Another concern relative to the Raiders is their financial wherewithal to succeed in L.A., with some owners thinking the deep pockets of a richer owner might be needed.

Davis insists the financial aspect of building the Carson stadium – and sustaining in L.A. – is rock solid behind the financing of Goldman Sachs.

“We’re fine as far as financing,” he said.

But he does acknowledge the Raiders might need help taping into the all the revenue streams available in L.A., which means building relationships in the entertainment, development and business world in L.A.

To help facilitate that, Davis is talking to a potential investor about coming aboard. He won’t reveal who – yet – or even guarantee a deal will come together.

But he does concede the Raiders are consider bringing in help.

“People who understand the market, and things of that nature,” Davis said. “We understand that different markets take different groups of people to help make it successful.

“We have a great core of people who are doing a phenomenal job of doing that up north, and they’ll still be doing a phenomenal job in Southern California,” Davis continued. “But there are different aspects you have to go after between one market and the other. There’s different industries, different companies, different relationships we need to encourage and develop.”

But the vote is still three months away. It was time to play a game, against an old and present rival but potentially long-range partner.

“Today we want to kick the Chargers ass,” Davis. “But their is a business relationship with them and that doesn’t change.”

St. Louis reveals Rams stadium financing plan – but there are issues

Financing details for a proposed $1 billion downtown St. Louis football stadium were finally revealed on Friday, and it explains how the St. Louis portion of $150 million will be divided between bond proceeds and through money raised by the recently announced $158 million naming rights deal with National Car Rental.

You can read the bill here.

The hope is that the plan is sufficient enough to convince National Football League owners to reject St. Louis Rams owner Stan Kroenke’s bid to move the Rams to Los Angeles, where he is proposing a privately financed stadium in Inglewood.

But there are issues.

While the plan seemed to be well received in St. Louis – which still needs to approve it – it raises some immediate red flags with the National Football League.

Specifically, using the naming rights deal to finance $75 million of St. Louis’ $150 million contribution.

The NFL considers naming rights money property of the team, and while St. Louis plans to reimburse the Rams through unspecified game-day tax revenue, that might not fly.

According to a high-ranking NFL official, the idea itself is creative but the reason for it highlights the problem.

The city doesn’t want the risk so they take the guaranteed revenue stream in naming rights for itself, then uses part of it to fund construction costs.

The team gets a tax credit that should equal the naming rights stream. But it’s not guaranteed and dependent on future revenue.

The risk, obviously, is solely on the team. And that is a concern.

The financing bill is expected to be officially introduced to the St. Louis Board of Aldermen next week. The board is then expected to vote on it, although some board members have proposed introducing a bill that would require a public vote to decide whether the city can spend the $150 million.

If so, that bill would essentially overturn a ruling by Circuit Court Judge Thomas Frawley last August that nullified an existing city ordinance mandating a public vote for the expenditure.

And while St. Louis stadium task force head Dave Peacock said he welcomes a vote, the urgency is glaring. It seems unlikely a citywide vote can be done within the next month, and Peacock told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch failure to achieve city approval beyond November “puts this project and retaining our team at risk.”

Of course, the primary hurdle for St. Louis is that the Rams no longer want to be there and have set their sights on Los Angeles. So in many ways, St. Louis is pleading to a higher court – the NFL – to try to keep the Rams in Missouri.

But as they close in on approving a deal, it looks like they may have some issues convincing the NFL their plan is a good one for the Rams.

The Rams are one of three teams eying Los Angeles along with the San Diego Chargers and Oakland Raiders, who have joined forces to build a joint stadium in Carson.

NFL owners are expected to vote in January to decide which team or teams will relocate to L.A. and what stadium site they’ll call home.

Approval relies on 24 or 32 yes votes.