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CSAG Should Keep their Eyes on the Prize

CSAG recently sent a letter to the NFL Owners who comprise the committee evaluating relocation to Los Angeles. While talking up San Diego's progress, the letter might also be dangerous.

Scott Sherman's Stadium Plan from earlier this month
Scott Sherman's Stadium Plan from earlier this month

According to Sam Farmer of the LA Times, Citizens' Stadium Advisory Group (CSAG) Spokesman Tony Manolatos sent an email to the six members of the NFL's Committee on Los Angeles Opportunities. Those six people are:

The email was designed to provide an update for the those committee members on the progress CSAG has made towards a stadium deal in San Diego over the last 12 weeks. In the email, Manolatos reiterates CSAG's commitment to keeping the Chargers in San Diego:
"We understand how important the Chargers are to our community. The team has been here for 54 years and we want to ensure the Chargers are a member of the NFL family for at least another 50 years."

CSAG has been most effective, both publicly and procedurally, when they've focused "like a laser" (in the words of CSAG chairman Adam Day) on their plan to select a site and then deliver the financing plan as planned in May, while rebutting statements made by Chargers' Special Counsel Mark Fabiani which have been misleading or pure propaganda.

What's Good About the Letter

What I like about CSAG's decision to send the letter is that it's yet another indication that CSAG hasn't been put together merely to provide"political cover", as was the concern of Fabiani. If that were the case, it seems to me that even attempting to engage other NFL owners would be a colossal waste of time.

What's Dangerous About the Letter

The letter signifies a slight change of direction, and appears to be an attempt to curry some favor with the committee. The letter implicitly states the CSAG does not trust either Fabiani or Eric Grubman (the NFL's VP overseeing stadium issues and possible relocation) to present a fair and accurate reading of the situation in San Diego. The problem is, the owners of the committee aren't any more inclined to listen to CSAG ahead of Fabiani or the NFL, nor are they inclined to publicly acknowledge CSAG in a positive manner until Fabiani and Grubman do.

Frankly, it smacks of desperation. Desperation is not what CSAG wants to give off at the moment. Desperation will make Fabiani and Grubman/NFL more likely to be pushy and aggressive.

This is important because if the NFL and Chargers had no interest in what CSAG was doing, they could just as easily have blown them off completely instead of meeting with them last week. And if I'm right about CSAG telling the Chargers in code that they're accepting the Chargers' plan from last year, then they could've just handed the Chargers more leverage right as they're nearing the finish line.

This is especially important, as Fabiani struck a fairly conciliatory tone regarding CSAG and their plan during a Friday afternoon interview with Scott Kaplan and Billy Ray Smith on Mighty 1090.

In Closing

CSAG needs to not worry right now about anything the NFL is saying or not saying publicly. Everything Fabiani or the NFL is saying right now is designed to extract concessions from, and exert leverage on, San Diego. Appealing to other NFL owners is not likely to produce any meaningful benefits, and may in fact increase the pressure exerted by the Chargers and/or NFL.

If CSAG is in fact pursing a plan they know the Chargers like and will generally agree to, then they really should focus on continuing what they've been doing the last couple of months - focus on their site selection and financing plan, and rebutting Fabiani or the NFL only when necessary as it regards the plan CSAG and the Chargers are already working on.