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Ten Questions Mark Fabiani Doesn't Want To Answer

In the last 36 Hours, Mark Fabiani has unleashed a media blitz designed to utterly ruin any attempt by San Diego to get a stadium deal. When you look past the talking point answers, a different picture emerges.

A rendering of CSAG's proposed Mission Valley Stadium
A rendering of CSAG's proposed Mission Valley Stadium

Chargers' Special Counsel Mark Fabiani has been very aggressive over the last 36 hours with local and national media in utterly decimating San Diego's attempts to get a stadium built before the end of 2015.

Fabiani doesn't veer far from his talking points, and will run back to them every chance he gets. That's because he has a narrative to push. Unfortunately, many media types don't manage to get him off his talking points, or even really question them.

So I'm going to give 10 questions Fabiani wouldn't like to answer, and explain why they're relevant to the situation in San Diego.

Question #1

What date did the Chargers find out about the Inglewood Stadium project, and when did they tell the Mayor?

Why This Matters

If the Chargers need an answer before the end of 2015, this is a question of time. Let's assume the Chargers found out in December 2014 and told the Mayor immediately. This means there was only 12 months to reach a deal, and the Chargers themselves have intimated that an initiative would take approximately 10 months to get on a ballot. Thus, the Chargers are asking you to believe they told the Mayor they needed to make a deal within 2 months, but somehow the Mayor decided that a Task Force going until September was the best way to proceed? Something there doesn't add up.

Question #2

Why did the Chargers insist on a proposal for a tax increase back in February, but want a deal which has a real chance to pass with voters?

Why This Matters

When's the last time a tax increase passed with voters? Exactly, I can't remember either. It seems to be a set-up for failure to insist on a plan which has such a high threshold for success. I think the Chargers want this plan because a tax increase insulates the team from blame if a stadium is constructed, and a financial crisis takes place which affects city services (e.g. the current Qualcomm lease, the "ticket guarantee", etc.). It also provides a guaranteed revenue stream to which the team has access.

Question #3

If the Chargers knew that there was no process by which the city could comply with CEQA in time for a 2015 vote, then why did they bother entering into negotiations for a 2015 vote in the first place?

Why This Matters

Fabiani spends time telling everyone who will listen that the law firm they use, Latham & Watkins, are among the foremost experts on CEQA compliance in the state. It stands to reason that an "expert law firm" would have known exactly what avenues the city might pursue to avoid / comply with CEQA. It looks a lot like the team setting the city up for failure. In other words, we'll let San Diego propose ideas we know won't work and project optimism, then embarrass San Diego publicly with the ideas the Chargers asked them to propose.

Question #4

Why do you (Fabiani) insist the world changed when Kroenke announced his Inglewood project in January 2015, but continue to beat San Diego over the head for mistakes prior to 2015?

Why This Matters

BFTB has even been told in the past (by Fabiani) that using quotes from Fabiani from before January 2015 is unfair because Kroenke's announcement changed everything. If this truly is the case, it doesn't matter anymore how many proposals the Chargers have made in San Diego, or how much they've spent on them. The Convention Center expansion fiasco doesn't matter either. In this case, it's simply how a public relations flack operates. Never respond to the last statement before going on to the next talking point. Always present a moving target. Move the goalposts.

Question #5

Why didn't the Chargers want the price of their land deal in Carson made public?

Why This Matters

This is directly related to the narrative Fabiani has created in relation to Los Angeles. Fabiani needs to create the perception that the Carson project is dead-even with Stan Kroenke's Inglewood project. The total cost for the Carson land deal was reported to be $22 million. According to Beast 980's Fred Roggin, Kroenke has spent more than $200 million on the Inglewood site. This matters because NFL Owners are less likley to choose Carson if they know that it will cost another owner at least $200 million dollars in sunk costs.

Question #6

Even if the Chargers don't think the San Diego's EIR plan passes muster, why not negotiate the finances anyway?

Why This Matters

In reality, there's nothing for the team to lose. The team and city can put together a financing plan, get it ready for a ballot, then evaluate whether the city's EIR stands up to scrutiny. If it doesn't, they can walk away from the deal. On the other hand, there's the outside possibility that San Diego's plan works, and stands up against lawsuits. If this were the case, wouldn't the team want the deal to go through? Their refusal to discuss financing numbers is a major red flag indicating the team has no real interest in making a deal, or the team isn't interested in any deal which is being offered at this time.

Question #7

Why are the Chargers willing to destroy 75% of their fanbase, in favor of 25% they'll have to fight (with either the Rams or Raiders) to keep?

Why This Matters

Put another way, should the NFL build its return to Los Angeles around the team in which Los Angeles has the least interest? Why move from a market where you're the biggest fish in medium-sized pond? Based on all the information available, the Chargers would be nothing more than the NFL's version of the Los Angeles Clippers. Now, the value of the franchise would probably triple. Otherwise, they're likely an afterthought in Los Angeles. And if they aren't consistently winning, there's a good chance every home game in Los Angeles will be an away game.

Question #8

If the Chargers couldn't close the AEG deal in 2011couldn't close a deal with Kroenke in 2012, and allowed themselves to get blitzed by Kroenke in 2014-2015, then what makes them the best possible choice to succeed in Los Angeles?

Why This Matters

At the end of the day, the primary consideration of the NFL is going to be selecting the franchise (or franchises) which give the league the best chance to succeed in Los Angeles. The Chargers have already demonstrated 3 times they've had a bite at the apple and found a way to mess it up. Is this the franchise which should be entrusted with a successful return to Los Angeles by the NFL? Failing your way to Los Angeles seems to me a dubious way of getting what you want.

Question #9

If there's no path to a stadium vote in 2015 in San Diego, then what proposal would the Chargers entertain for a possible vote in 2016?

Why This Matters

Like I said earlier, the Chargers had to have known that any attempt by the city to hold a vote in 2015 is a non-starter. Therefore, it stands to reason that there might be a deal they're at least passively interested (i.e. if they don't get to go to Los Angeles) in pursuing. If so, what is that deal? The reluctance on the part of the team to tell San Diego what they want indicates either that there's no deal they want, or the deal they want is not one they can successfully pursue at this time.

Question #10

Are the Chargers going to Los Angeles in 2016, no matter what?

Why This Matters

What's the point of San Diego attempting to make a deal with someone who's already gone? San Diego deserves to know whether or not they are dealing with an honest broker. Period.