The city of San Diego and the NFL Chargers were poised to miss a deadline set by Mayor Kevin Faulconer to schedule a public vote on whether taxpayers should help pay for a new stadium to stop the team from moving to Los Angeles.
Faulconer wanted an election before an anticipated decision by league owners, potentially early next year, on whether to return a team to Los Angeles after a two-decade absence. The city and team had to strike a stadium financing deal by Friday to allow enough time for a measure to be placed on a Jan. 12 ballot.
The missed deadline is a reminder of the wide gulf between the city and team. Negotiations collapsed in June after three meetings, and neither side suggests they will resume soon.
The Chargers and Oakland Raiders plan to jointly build a $1.7 billion stadium in the Los Angeles suburb of Carson, one of two proposals to bring the NFL to the nation's second-largest metropolitan area. St. Louis Rams owner Stan Kroenke is part of a group planning to build a nearly $2 billion stadium in the city of Inglewood.
San Diego plans to make its case directly to NFL owners next month in New York. A move to Los Angeles would require approval of 24 of the 32 owners.
"We made it very clear that we wanted to achieve a special election, and this was the date we had to that," Faulconer said Thursday. "The Chargers chose — that was their decision — not to engage in discussion. They broke them off some time ago. That has not deterred us."
Chargers special counsel Mark Fabiani disputed the mayor's characterization, saying the team rejected a flawed plan to build a venue at the site of the team's existing home at the aging Qualcomm Stadium. He said the team has worked for 14 years on a new stadium to stay in San Diego and that the city has been trying only eight months, spending some of that time on a mayor-appointed task force that the team questioned from the start.
In May, the mayor's task force proposed a $1.1 billion stadium that includes contributions of $121 million each from the city and San Diego County. Negotiations stalled over a review required under the California Environmental Quality Act to address impacts including noise and traffic, which the Chargers claimed wouldn't survive prolonged legal challenges.
The city produced an 848-page draft environmental review in August, an unusually fast turnaround.
"The quickie (environmental impact report) is more like curdled milk, which looks worse the longer it sits around," Fabiani said. "In short, the Chargers are unwilling to go along with the city's ill-conceived legal strategies."
Faulconer remains committed to a public vote if the two sides ever strike a deal. He said an election could be held next year in June or November.