Mayor needs to show plan that keeps Chargers from bolting

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By JAY PARIS
1-5-2014
The sun rose on Monday and with it word that the horses are at the gate.
In this case the ponies are Stan Kroenke and the Stockbridge Capital Group, with both looking to make hay at Hollywood Park.
Don’t feel bad if you don’t know them either.
Kroenke, among other possessions befitting a billionaire, owns the St. Louis Rams.
Stockbridge Capital Group, among other assets benefiting an investment firm, controls the 238-acre former race track.
The pair is now one, which could have an 80,000-seat NFL stadium, 6,000-seat performance hall and entertainment district coming to Inglewood.
Whoa Nellie, and haven’t we heard this before?
Yep.
Holy Cow, what does this mean for the Chargers?
It could be a blessing.
When plans to build a gigantic Wal-Mart in the shuttered track’s makeover was derailed, guess who swooped in before the neighboring Forum to snag the land?
Kroenke quietly bought a 60-acre parcel adjacent to Hollywood Park in 2013, a patch too small to accommodate an NFL venue and the required parking.
FYI: Kroenke is married to Wal Mart founder Sam Walton’s daughter, and among NFL owners, only Seattle’s Paul Allen has deeper pockets.
Now comes Monday’s news that Kroenke joined forces with Stockbridge and it’s not too difficult to connect the dots.
Is Kroenke playing this card to force St. Louis to upgrade the Edwards Jones Dome, the Rams’ home since they bolted Anaheim after the 1994 season?
Maybe.
Or is Kroenke snatching the nation’s No. 2 market while others twiddle their thumbs?
That’s a better bet.
The Chargers continue their drumbeat that they need a new stadium. The club said it can’t be idle if another NFL team claims the L.A. market, which the Chargers claim is a critical part of their revenue stream.
Are the Chargers up a creek if the Rams once again plant their flag in L.A.?
No way and it could accelerate a deal being done here.
San Diego has proven it’s in no hurry to aid the Chargers’ quest to replace Qualcomm Stadium. The Chargers have been yapping about new digs since 2002 and is it really 2015 with no significant progress?
But a wealthy NFL owner upset about his St. Louis stadium joining forces with a development firm gives urgency to the Chargers staying in America’s Finest City.
San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer has said repeatedly common ground can be discovered to keep the Chargers’ cleats in San Diego.
But without the threat of the Chargers’ exiting, where’s the city’s motivation to get something done?
What makes the Hollywood Park plan unlike countless others is no government funds, according to the developers, are required.
For San Diego to point a shovel to the ground, among the obstacles is getting two-third of the voters to approve such an undertaking. Among the funding mechanisms for a East Village stadium to rise is city land at Qualcomm and the Valley View Casino Center being sold or developed. Money from those city assets would go toward the stadium, which would also be used in conjuncture with the San Diego Convention Center.
But not only is the two-thirds threshold a challenge, the powerful San Diego hoteliers have yet to support the East Village vision.
It’s time for Faulconer to reveal just what’s up his sleeve to prevent the Chargers from heading north.
The Chargers will set up shop next season in Qualcomm. After that, they could become free agents and possibly join Kroenke in his new playpen.
Or there’s Farmers Field at L.A. Live, a proposal that’s not dead yet.
But the stadium sands of time locally are dwindling. It’s imperative San Diego, its feet put to the fire by Kroenke’s Hollywood Park plan, accelerate its unveiling of a scenario that retains the Chargers.
The Chargers need to be flexible.
The Mayor needs to get creative.
Both parties need to giddy up, otherwise it’s nearing time to cue track announcer Trevor Denman. In the not-too-distant future, he could eye the Chargers, clear his throat and say, “and away they go.”

Contact Jay Paris at jparis@bcaradio.com

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