Mark Fabiani went on the Scott and BR show this morning and set the record fairly straight in no uncertain terms. This interview had the potential to be extremely weasely, but Fabiani gave great answers in my opinion.
The major forward progress towards a downtown football stadium this year took place in October when the State government lifted a redevelopment spending cap for San Diego. The resulting issue is that other interests, such as expanding/remodeling the convention center are now competing for the money in that raised cap. Just because the spending cap was raised, it doesn't mean the money will necessarily go to a new downtown stadium. Whether or not a San Diego stadium gets built relies on the following critical chain of events:
1. The new NFL Collective Bargaining agreement gets done (without this #2 will never happen)
2. The NFL Stadium Loan program gets some money available which then goes to San Diego.
3. The team and the city must agree to a deal for both private and public funding on a new downtown stadium (where there is currently a wonder bread factory and a county run bus yard) which will place a city initiative on the 2012 presidential election ballot.
4. The ballot initiative must pass.
There is currently no plan to sell the Alex Spanos 36% share of the team to AEG. It has not been offered to AEG specifically, and AEG has not made an offer to buy. Should AEG buy a share of a team, that team will be moved to LA. AEG will not buy a team share just to own a team. AEG owning, and moving to LA are synonymous. Fabiani would not promise that the shares would never be sold to AEG. He likened such a guarantee to Scott and BR guaranteeing they will still be broadcasting on XX1090 in five years. Too much can change. AEG does not have all of their stuff together yet, they still need the environmental impact exemption among other things.
The reason that the 36% share was being sold this year as a part of estate tax planning was to beat the expiration of the Bush tax cuts on capital gains. For most of this year, they have been hussling to close the transaction before the end of 2010. Now that the Federal Government is extending the tax cuts for two more years, the sale is not urgent.
In summary, the possible LA move and sale of the controlling share of the team is now simmering on the back burner. There is a difficult but clear path to a downtown San Diego stadium, and a very viable fallback to AEG and Los Angeles if the city leadership and voters don't come through in the next 24 months. We'll know in the beginning of 2012 whether or not the ballot intitiative is on track.
One footnote was that Fabiani spends 75% of his time on the San Diego Chargers. His other obligations such as representing Jamie McCourt and Lance Armstrong take up a small portion of his time and are mainly email/phone pop up tasks. Those other tasks are not a distraction for him.