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STADIUM TALK: Chargers Stalling Tactics Continue with Polling

According to an article by Voice of San Diego, the Chargers may have enlisted pollsters in their attempt to convince the NFL that they have to go to Los Angeles.

A proposed new stadium in Mission Valley
A proposed new stadium in Mission Valley

In this article by Scott Lewis for Voice of San Diego, it was revealed that the presentation made by San Diego to NFL Vice President Eric Grubman relied on polling to prove that voters in San Diego would be willing approve the use of public money to build a stadium to replace Qualcomm Stadium.

According to the article:

The poll showed that 51% of respondents would support a government investment in a new stadium if it comprised one-third of a $1 billion or so facility. The support jumped higher when people were told it would not include a tax increase.

Well, that punches a ginormous hole in the Chargers' narrative: San Diego can't get anything done, therefore they HAVE to go to Los Angeles.

So, what are the Chargers doing about this?

According to the article, another group of pollsters have started gathering information from San Diegans in the past week, asking pointedly whether or not they would be inclined to support a new stadium financed using General Funds from the City and/or County.

In the article, Lewis asked Chargers' Special Counsel Mark Fabiani whether or not the team was behind the polling:

"In the past, we haven't commented on reports that the Chargers have a poll in the field (and we have done a great many polls over the past 14 years of this effort)."

- Chargers' Special Counsel Mark Fabiani via email to Voice of San Diego 8/6/15

I choose to accept (as Lewis does) that Fabiani's non-denial constitutes an implicit admission. The Chargers are conducting polling in San Diego.

What Does This Mean?

Remember the Chargers' narrative: San Diego can't get anything done, therefore they HAVE to go to Los Angeles.

What they're attempting to do with this polling is counter the City's argument that voters will support a plan using money from the General Fund. For whatever other flaws the plan had, the final report issued by the Citizen's Stadium Advisory Group (CSAG) went as far as possible to avoid committing money from the General Fund of either the City or County (the combined total they estimated in their report was $242 million, split evenly).

However, since the City's expedited Environmental Impact Report (EIR) precludes any additional development of the Qualcomm site, beyond replacing Qualcomm with a modern facility, that means that the City and County will have to come up with another $150 million - $225 million.

The City hasn't released its plan yet, but I'd guess it looks something like this:

  • $300 million from the Chargers.
  • $200 million from the NFL (via the G4 Stadium Loan Program).
  • $60 million from Personal Seat Licenses (with the other $60 million going to the team, tax free).

Total: $560 million

This leaves approximately $500 - $700 million to come from public sources.

However, as I said back in May, and more recently, the Chargers are not going to engage with any plan in San Diego. The Chargers have committed themselves to the Carson project for 2015, and will not engage in any attempts in San Diego until that plan is no longer viable.

They certainly aren't going to engage in a plan which they think is legally dubious, in terms of complying with the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA). And as was reported recently, the team has to be on-board by September 11th this year, in order for the City's planned vote in January 2016 to take place.

Wrapping Up

Any attempt by the Chargers to reach a deal in San Diego ruins their narrative, and therefore weakens their position in Los Angeles.

Therefore, in the interests of advancing their interests in Los Angeles, the Chargers are "counter-polling" in an attempt to show the NFL that San Diego voters will not support the plan put forward by the City.

This allows the Chargers to refuse to participate in an effort they don't believe could be successful, and therefore they won't be held responsible by the NFL for torpedoing a viable plan.

Furthermore, all the Chargers have to do is stall until September 11th to make a stadium deal in San Diego impossible before the NFL makes its decision on Los Angeles.

If the deal isn't viable from the team's and NFL's standpoint, and it's too late to do anything in 2015 (or early 2016), then the Chargers are hoping the NFL will agree with them: They have go to Los Angeles.