There was enthusiasm, a plan and a sense that Thursday’s Citizens Stadium Advisory Group’s announcement came with the notion that progress is being made.
But in this San Diego stadium give-and-take now in its 14th year, isn’t it always one step forward and two back?
Maybe not, but dare we ask where were the Chargers?
In Carson, helping ignite the signature drive for a venue the Chargers and Raiders might share.
With CSAG’s nine members glistening in the sun and explaining the reasons why Mission Valley isn’t mission impossible and that downtown is a Debbie Downer, no Chargers representative was present.
Sure, Bolt Man was there.
Yep, former Chargers players were in attendance and one even spoke, Shawn Merriman.
But for the lights to flicker in new digs, CSAG is going need some help. Not only in how to finance it, but also with the stadium’s main tenant throwing its NFL weight behind it.
When given the chance, Chargers spokesman Mark Fabiani declined to endorse the CSAG’s decision.
“On the Qualcomm vs. downtown site issue, we’ve really tried to make our point of view clear on this issue repeatedly over the last couple of years, and there isn’t anything new to add today,’’ Fabiani replied in an e-mail.
Well, Darren Bennett was there so he would recognize a punt.
And that seems just what the Chargers are doing before the heavy lifting starts on Mission Valley Village or Spanos Sports Gardens or whatever they’re going to call this last-ditch effort to keep the Chargers local.
Adam Day, the CSAG spokesman, said repeatedly the Chargers told his group they were open-minded regarding Mission Valley or downtown.
It was clear to CSAG the Mission Valley was preferable.
“It’s $250 million cheaper, at the minimum,’’ Day said
Day also said choosing Mission Valley lets stadium construction proceed quicker, without wrestling with the downtown MTS bus yard, minus buying parcels of land and trying to reclaim other property which were once designated for redevelopment purposes.
But while Day baked in the sun, Fabiani declined to say whether Mission Valley was groovy or a half-baked idea.
Day, whose been in contact with NFL officials which could lead to commissioner Roger Goodell visiting San Diego, did reveal that the CSAG will not recommend a stadium funding mechanism that requires a two-thirds vote.
That won’t fly with the Chargers, unless they backpedal on their position when first meeting with CSAG.
“With regard to a new stadium project, we are hearing rumblings of another ill-conceived scheme to avoid the two-thirds vote requirement…to be clear, we will not support any such effort to circumvent the State Constitution.”
CSAG will, at some point, present a formula for the stadium/development project that will likely be a mixture of San Diego County and NFL loans and the site being designated in a manner where the up-front costs are repaid by the anticipated tax revenues from those businesses.
“It’s going to be a San Diego gumbo,’’ CSAG member Jim Steeg said. “A little of this, a little of that.’’
A little support form the Chargers would add spice to this concoction. But it wouldn’t come on Thursday, despite the team’s headquarters being less than five miles from the press conference.
It’s clear Chargers president Dean Spanos wouldn’t be involved – he’s spotted less than Casper.
But couldn’t a friendly face from the Chargers stand behind CSAG, to supply an optic that says, “we’re on board and we can’t wait to help.’’
So while Day’s comments were encouraging, at the end of day, what really has changed?
What’s old is new again, and we get that in the return to Mission Valley.
But without the Chargers’ blessing, this fresh idea will grow stale quickly.
“Every member of the committee will attest to the fact that Mr. Fabiani said the team was neutral on site selection,’’ Day said. “I imagine the mayor would attest to the same thing regarding his meeting with Dean Spanos.’’
That works for us.
We just have reservations the Chargers will work for this plan.
+ Contact Jay Paris at firstname.lastname@example.org