City proposes special election for a new Chargers stadium

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A Chargers Task Force stadium rendering.

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SAN DIEGO – The city of San Diego has proposed a special election in mid December to let voters decide whether to build a new Chargers stadium.

The December 15 election would be called only “if we can reach an agreement,” said San Diego Mayor Kevin Falconer. “We have all the ingredients for success if we work closely together with the Chargers,”

The $1.4 billion proposal sets up pathway for voters to elect to pool tax money with Chargers money to complete the task.  The proposed special election would attempt to head off the NFL application deadline to move the Chargers to Carson.

As the early stages of planning for a stadium that would keep the Chargers in town began earlier this year, there was talk that an election for the public to ratify an agreement with the NFL franchise could also involve residents in other parts of the county.

Faulconer said an “aggressive timeline” laid out at a 90-minute meeting with Chargers representatives today necessitated a city-only vote. He said the City Council would have to approve any ballot measures by Sept. 18, in order to refer them to the county Registrar of Voters office in time for a vote before the end of the year.

“The city/county negotiating team, as you see us here, is prepared to meet as often as necessary with the Chargers to reach an agreement by that time,” Faulconer said.

Faulconer, Roberts, City Attorney Jan Goldsmith and experts hired by the city and county met with Chargers Chairman Dean Spanos and special counsel Mark Fabiani last weekend to begin negotiations. They met again today and are planning a third get-together a few days from now, according to the mayor.

“We’ve had two very well-thought out and structured business discussions with the Chargers and their legal representatives,” said Chris Melvin, of the legal firm Nixon Peabody, one of the experts hired by the city and county.

“We have gone through a myriad of issues — we are working through them,” Melvin said. “We have committed to them, and I think they have committed to us, to try to get this done.”

The city and county officials said a lot of hard work was still ahead, and they might have to meet with the Chargers at least weekly to successfully conclude negotiations on time.

City officials held a press conference Monday to speak about the fruitful negotiations with the Chargers general counsel Mark Fabiani, although Fabiani was unavailable for comment.

Most insiders believe this special election will act as a test to see if the Chargers truly intend to leave San Diego.

Close observers of the decades-long process say this is the first time the  city has taken an offensive stance actively seeking voter approval to build a new stadium.

If a stadium is built, the project would include a park along the San Diego River. Qualcomm Stadium would be razed to make way for development.

The facility would also be used for San Diego State University football games, the Holiday and Poinsettia bowls, high school championships and special events.

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