In reality, I think that yesterday's news regarding a new team facility in Santa Ana is a bit of a non-story.
As part of their bid for relocation to Los Angeles, the Chargers have been exploring various sites for months. However, this article in the OC Register reveals a few very important pieces of information about any potential negotiations between the Chargers and San Diego, if they happen.
The most important - How much are the Chargers going to ask of San Diego. But we'll get to that...
First, A Shift in the Narrative
For the last two weeks, the general media narrative has been that the Chargers moving to Los Ageles is a virtual lock, and that the only question wasn't if, but rather when. Consider these tweets:
Chargers and Rams have yet to meet regarding potential partnership deal. It's likely Chargers go to LA, but probably not today or tomorrow.— Kevin Acee (@sdutKevinAcee) January 13, 2016
All of a sudden on Thursday morning, these same people tweeted the following.
So, what the hell is going on here? I see a few possibilities:
- The Rams are getting frustrated with the state of negotiations, and are trying to push the Chargers to close the deal.
- The Raiders are putting out smoke to try and force the Chargers to make a decision, so they can make their next move.
- The Chargers, after closing a deal with the Rams, always intended to come back to San Diego to try and get their stadium deal done with Inglewood as their leverage / safety net.
The Chargers' Possible New Headquarters
As if to underscore the last option, the Chargers announced later Thursday that they had filed plans with the city of Santa Ana for their temporary headquarters in Los Angeles.
However, a couple of interesting points have been raised about the property, or the need for the property. First, as pointed out by Fred Roggin on The Beast 980 AM, why do the Chargers need land in Orange County when they still own 11 unpolluted acres in Carson?
If you're absolutely set on moving to Los Angeles, doesn't it make sense to build on land that a) you already own, b) has 11 acres, compared to the 5 in Santa Ana, c) is closer to the Inglewood site AND the Coliseum?
Underscoring this point are the following tweets by KGTV 10 reporter Jonathan Horn, regarding the site in Santa Ana.
Public records show Segerstrom, not #chargers, own land in Santa Ana. Segerstrom has owned it since 1996. Fabiani won't discuss it— Jonathan Horn (@10NewsHorn) January 29, 2016
I do not believe #chargers are in escrow because city of Santa Ana says they will do best work for both Chargers AND Segerstrom— Jonathan Horn (@10NewsHorn) January 29, 2016
Maybe it's just me, but this Santa Ana headquarters business seems like a classic smokescreen from Chargers Special Counsel Mark Fabiani. And that brings us to the single most important item in the OC Register Article.
How Much Money Will It Take for the Chargers to Stay in San Diego?
According to this article, the Chargers are looking for $500 million from public sources.
That's what this article was written for. This was a negotiating stance by the Chargers, clouded in a mist of potential new headquarters information in Orange County which evaporates when you start looking closely at it.
So, knowing this is what the Chargers are asking for, what can we learn about their plans for San Diego?
If they decide to take the Mission Valley proposal, costing $1.1 billion, the Chargers would be asking for $500 million from the City and County of San Diego. This means the Chargers/NFL are putting $600 million into the costs.
If we're talking about the Convadium, costing $1.67 billion, and we attribute the same $600 million to the Chargers/NFL, and the same $500 million from public sources, that means $570 million is coming from JMI and/or the hoteliers - possibly via the Briggs Initiative.
And the argument will be this from the Chargers/NFL:
"We got an extra $100 million from the NFL to give San Diego another shot. We need San Diego to show good faith and come off their stated limit of $350 million in public money."
And I know just where the extra $150 million could come from. About 75 acres at the Qualcomm site, sold at $2 million per acre.
That's it. That's the ballgame.
I'd argue that with this article, negotiations have started with the Chargers and San Diego.
The real news in the article isn't the weird and frankly ridiculous announcement of a temporary team headquarters in Orange County which is barely (and maybe not actually) large enough to accommodate the team's needs. That seems like a smokescreen to me.
The news is the narrative shift from earlier in the day, and the clear statement of how much money the Chargers are asking for from the City and County of San Diego.
So... now the City and County know for sure what number the team is going to ask them to hit. Here are the questions:
- If the Chargers continue with their media and smokescreen manipulation tactics (which served them so well last year), will the City and County maintain a hard line?
- If the Chargers come back to the table, will the City and County be flexible?
How those questions get answered determines the Chargers' future in San Diego.