Chargers’ Lawyer: This is ‘perhaps our last and best chance’ to keep Chargers in San Diego

by on November 7, 2011 · 27 comments

in Media, Popular, San Diego, Sports

by Tony Manolatos / San Diego Rostra / November 7, 2011

I published a blog post [editor: see below] Friday that questioned Mark Fabiani’s criticism of Mayor Jerry Sanders’ Convention Center expansion plan. Fabiani, who serves as special counsel to the San Diego Chargers and is the team’s point man on stadium talks, sent me a response on Saturday. Here it is:

 Tony, thank you for the opportunity to weigh in on your latest Chargers stadium post.

 I particularly appreciate the chance to give you a direct answer to your question about why the Chargers made the proposal to combine a new stadium with the convention center expansion. The answer: Because we are doing everything possible to keep the Chargers in San Diego, and we believe that the combination idea gives us perhaps our last and best chance to accomplish that goal.

 We knew that controversy would ensue when we made this idea public, after months of private discussions with the Mayor’s Office, organized labor, and business leaders. But we moved ahead because we wanted to stimulate an open, vigorous public debate on these issues.

 Unfortunately, but typically, I guess, there are some in the downtown community who want to cut off discussion before it even starts.

 These are the same people who told the Chargers that we should not pursue the Chula Vista bay front site because the Gaylord project would be built there. Never happened.

 These are the same people who told us that we should not pursue the Tenth Avenue Marine Terminal, because the main tenant there was going to sign a long-term lease and allow the port facility to grow. Never happened.

 Or that we should not push for a ballot measure in 2010 because the new City Hall plan would be put before voters then and it would not be smart to have two such significant measures before voters at the same time. Never happened.

 And there are a lot of very smart people around town who believe that the current convention center expansion proposal is never going to happen either – because the taxing mechanism being used is potentially illegal. Or because the Coastal Commission will never approve a box-like structure impeding public access to the waterfront. Anyone up for another Navy Broadway project — 20 years of work resulting in a unanimous condemnation by the Coastal Commission? Or because prominent hoteliers believe that the proposed funding formula is unfair, or for any number of other reasons.

 So this time around, we were determined to push our idea out there to the public and not be deterred by those who are watching out for their own interests more than the best interests of all taxpayers.

 The fact is that these kinds of joint use facilities have been very successful in other cities, and such a facility in San Diego would put us in the running for the kind of mega-events (Super Bowls, national political conventions, NCAA Final Fours, BCS bowl games, etc.) that our city will never otherwise be able to host.

 The facts also show that there is no magic to the word ‘contiguous’ in the convention business. The Indianapolis and San Francisco case studies show how workable non-contiguous solutions can be — especially if your city is now vaulted into eligibility for a whole new category of mega-events. San Diego will never be able to host these kinds of events, even if the current expansion plan goes through.

 And, if the current San Diego expansion plan fails and billionaire Phil Anschutz builds his combined Super Bowl-quality football stadium-convention center facility in downtown Los Angeles — well, the distinction between contiguous and non-contiguous facilities is going to seem pretty academic here in San Diego.

 In short, we believe that this combination stadium-convention center proposal deserves to be seriously considered. And we are doing everything that we can to make sure that it will be. That does not mean, though, that other options are closed off. We continue to work closely with the Mayor’s Office and Fred Maas, with the County, and with business and labor on other funding options.

 But no matter how things turn out, one thing I’m sure of is this: Those of us hired by Dean Spanos and his family to find a publicly acceptable way to keep the Chargers in San Diego would have been derelict in our duties if we had not publicly advocated the promising convention center-stadium concept.

Editor: Here’s Tony Manolatos’ earlier post about the Chargers and Occupy San Diego

Fabiani’s Fight, Manchester Eyes the Union-Tribune and Occupy’s Great Flaw

by Tony Manolatos / San Diego Rostra / November 4, 2011

Some Friday thoughts for your weekend…

Mark Fabiani is clearly the toughest man on the San Diego Chargers payroll. While he’s been going around town taking shots at Mayor Jerry Sanders, the guys who suit up on Sundays continue to play like a bunch of Lotus Eaters.

Fabiani’s latest jab arrived this morning in Tom Blair’s column. Fabiani once again says the Mayor’s financing plan for a Convention Center expansion is seriously flawed and possibly illegal.

“The mayor, who says he’s already been advised the plan is legal, is standing firm,” Blair writes.

You can bet the Mayor’s position is likely firmer now. Fabiani knows the Mayor and his team don’t respond well to public ridicule. So what’s his end game?

Does Fabiani really believe he can derail the expansion plans in favor of a plan that would bring a new football stadium to town? A stadium, he says, that would double as the extension the Convention Center desperately needs to retain Comic-Con and other massive events that sink millions into the local economy and need more room? Fabiani’s argument ignores the fact that large-scale conventions like Comic-Con want contiguous space – not a stadium six blocks away.

Fabiani and the Mayor – who is working on a separate stadium financing plan that the team appears to have little interest in – broke up shortly after the Mayor went on his 3-city stadium tour.

My guess is Fabiani approached the Mayor with an idea the Mayor would not agree to – Scrap the current expansion plan in favor of the team’s vision: A new stadium for the team and for conventioners desiring more elbow room! This vision ignores the wishes of the local lodging industry, a powerful group and longtime ally of the Mayor’s. Many of the largest hoteliers are ok with passing on the costs of a Convention Center expansion to their guests because a larger facility is expected to bring in more room revenue. They don’t have nearly the same love and affection for a new football stadium.

So where does this leave the Chargers and Fabiani, the team’s point man on stadium talks? In taking their argument public, and banking on fan loyalty, are they winning the PR war?

“Fabiani is making San Diego sick with his demands at subsidizing a billionaire when the Occupy movement is growing,” David Ogul, a former assistant metro editor at the San Diego Union-Tribune, tweeted today.

Some believe Fabiani is dropping bombs because the team wants to be able to say something like this if it skips town: “It’s not our fault. We tried everything.”

Speaking of David Ogul and the Union-Tribune…Ogul tweeted this week: “Rumor has it that Doug Manchester is in escrow to buy the Union-Tribune.”

That tweet led to a blog post that says Manchester, the San Diego hotel giant, is interested in the prime real estate the paper sits on in Mission Valley.

Printing and distributing a daily paper seems to grow more antiquated – not to mention costly – by the day. Once the paper can get enough advertisers to buy into a web-only product I think you will see the Union-Tribune publishing from a office somewhere Downtown, and I think you will see a gleaming new hotel in Mission Valley. Maybe they will call it, The Daily Resort & Spa.

Finally, I’d like to suggest to the Occupy San Diego folks that if they really want to generate change they need to generate a better movement.

A broader effort with support from politicians – one that zeroes in on the dissolving middle class – has not materialized locally. The people living in tents outside City Hall looked like a fringe group.

I’m not dismissing them or their concerns, but that type of effort is never going to get the attention of the majority of San Diegans, including those stuck watching a lousy NFL team on Sundays.

{ 27 comments… read them below or add one }

jettyboy November 7, 2011 at 11:20 am

Just take your losers and go. There are so many much more important things SD has to deal with besides a bad football team.


TM November 10, 2011 at 8:55 am

You’re coming off as ignorant and close-minded. Some of those ‘things’ you’re talking about (I’m assuming economy, budget issues, and overall moral as a few) could be helped by a stadium/convention center. You DO have to spend money to make money. As long as they have a respectable plan in place, why not at LEAST give it a chance by reviewing it, instead of immediately dismissing it. Then at least you’ll have a decent answer when someone asks why you feel that way.


Not Amused November 7, 2011 at 11:42 am

Stop the big money grab and end arounds in politics and finance.
If only they were as good on the field as their business department is at fleecing the public I might vote for a new stadium.

We dont need to give another billion dollars in real estate to the already wealthy to do support a winy bunch of losers.


TM November 10, 2011 at 8:57 am

Teams get better and worse over the years. You have to understand that. ‘Winy bunch of losers?’ You clearly have no idea what you’re talking about.


TM November 10, 2011 at 8:58 am

Are people in Indianapolis upset that their team hasn’t won a game this year? YES. Do you think they regret building the stadium because their team is having a down year? Well, if they do, they don’t understand sports. It’s the nature of the game.


JEC November 7, 2011 at 11:50 am

Fabiani, I don’t buy it. It’s all about the money and for the Chargers a move to LA doesn’t have it. Consider, 1. the current valuation of the Chargers – the Chargers draw on both the San Diego and Tijuana markets, a combined population of over Five million making it one of the NFL’s larger markets. 2. The NFL plans on charging a transfer fee of about $200 million. 3. Add the actual cost of moving and how little LA taxpayers will eventually kick in and then compare to the valuation of a Chargers team in LA. Every indicator points toward the NFL wanting the Chargers to stay put and to re-locate a small market team like the Lions or Vikings; a team who’s valuation will substantially increase by moving to LA. Fabiani is blowing a bunch of hot air. But this persistant harangue, and nerve, yes nerve to ask a bankrupt city to caugh up hundreds of millions to make the rich richer, utter nonsense. Spanos has been a horrible owner, a miserable neighbor quick with threats; I think it’s time for the Chargers to leave.


doug porter November 7, 2011 at 12:06 pm

Maybe what’s more to the point is that, if the Chargers organization can not sell out a 68,000 seat stadium in a market this size (and when they do it’s because the opposing team has fans that travel–like Green Bay) maybe they should consider trying another market.
I happen to think that, if the Chargers moved to LA, they’d have the same problem selling seats. Although the quality of the football being played by a team has some effect on attendance, what’s more important is the quality of the fan experience. And the Charger organization fails miserably; going to a game at Qualcomm is like taking a trip backwards to the worst marketing/packaging efforts of the 1970’s. It’s beyond cheesy–it’s embarrassing. I’m surprised that the team doesn’t make the players sport sideburns and disco-style mustaches.


No Gods November 7, 2011 at 12:35 pm

Can I vote “no” on a new taxpayer funded football stadium yet?


Doug Porter November 7, 2011 at 1:05 pm

It should be noted for our regular readers who may not be familiar with San Diego Rostra that their postings are mostly of the conservative persuasion. You will not get cooties from visiting their site, but on certain days you may want to wash your hands afterwards. (we’re sure they probably feel the same way about us)


Jeff November 7, 2011 at 1:58 pm

Can I contribute to a fund to help the Chargers leave? I want to get the stinking whiners out of my city.

Honestly, what a bunch of crybabies that organization employs…!


TM November 10, 2011 at 9:02 am

How so? How exactly are they crybabies? And why are we throwing insults around instead of having a reasonable discussion?


Allen Lewis November 7, 2011 at 3:24 pm

I wonder how much tax and personal $ is lost from the 99% to the 1%. Pro sports are greed infested from the top down. For the mega rich it is a phallic symbol to own a team, and a place to launder there $, and for the players…well no amount of $ makes them happy, it has gotten way out of control. I wont even get into the “role model for our youth” part.I wonder how many people down on the protest watch the games on there Iphones. Yes I’m one of those anti pro sports people. Don’t get me wrong, I love sports, I would rather do them than pay $ to watch others do them.


TM November 10, 2011 at 9:04 am

Launder their money? That’s a heavy accusation with no ground to stand on in this discussion. You’re clearly just upset.


doxielady November 7, 2011 at 5:20 pm

I cannot believe these people are looking to the citizens of San Diego to build their stadium. Yeah, vote yes and let the rich get richer! In the meantime us poor people will never be able to go to a game because the prices are so outrageous and then it gets blacked out and then we can’t even see the damn game! Let them go to LA…the San Diego rich can still go see them in their new stadium.


TM November 10, 2011 at 9:06 am

What evidence do you have that it won’t help both sides? Give me some evidence of that. Or are you just looking for something to complain about?


Wireless Mike November 7, 2011 at 5:54 pm

Go Chargers! And stay gone.


San Dieagan November 7, 2011 at 7:48 pm

“Go Chargers! And STAY gone!!”

I couldn’t have said it better myself!

… and THIS says it all:
“So this time around, we were determined to push our idea out there to the public and not be deterred by those who are watching out for their own interests more than the best interests of all taxpayers.”

Well… power to those San Diegan’s who have finally awakened to “watching out for their own interests AS TAXPAYERS… and FINALLY decided that the hobby (i.e. football) of one particular person (Alex Spanos… et al) should not be subsidized by a city (i.e. YOU and ME) that is financially broke… and, even if it wasn’t.

Hey…. my hobby is model railroading. I want the city of San Diego to subsidize the cost of building a huge facility to build a gigantic model railroad that would attract model railroaders from around the world. This would increase San Diego tourism and money (i.e. Transient Occupancy Tax) to reduce the abominable debt this city has incurred from criminal mismanagment for the past 20 years.

I guarantee that MY hobby (… model railroading – NOT football) will provide a year ’round income for San Diego… instead of the EIGHT…. that’s right, only EIGHT days (out of 365 days in a year) in a multi-million dollar, San Diego taxpayer subsidized piece of concrete and grass (San Diego Stadium).

Wake up San Diego!! If Mr. Alex Spanos’ hobby is football, then he should pay for every single dime it takes for him to enjoy it… just like the rest of us!

Now, if Mr. Alex Spanos wants to purchase/lease the land, and build the stadium without one single cent from the San Diego taxpayer…. and then sell tickets (to subsidize his cost) to those who want to watch the endeavors of his hobby… FINE !!!

(Question: Where were all those AVID Charger fans who failed to purchase tickets so that the Charger games could be broadcast on local television? HUH ???????? )

Are these the SAME Charger fans (i.e. San Diego taxpayers) that will ensure that EVERY Charger home game will be a sell-out???

I think not!

What REALLY gets my goat, is that after San Diego city taxpayers spent MILLIONS to renovate San Diego Stadium to Alex Spanos’ specifications,
a year or two later, he said it wasn’t adequate! He wants a NEW, taxpayer subsidized stadium :-((

For WHAT ???? Only EIGHT days out of the entire year???

Give me a break!!! :-(

Don’t get me wrong… I LOVE football! But, after years and years of seeing one person persue his personal hobby (… at taxpayer expense) without tangible results (i.e. Super Bowl), it’s time to say NO !!!!

Mr. Spanos…

1. Buy your own land
2. Build your own stadium
3. Charge people (like every other business) to partake in what you do in that facility.

Otherwise……… find another city to pay for your hobby!!!


TM November 10, 2011 at 9:10 am

Yeah… ONE guy likes the Chargers. Make it sounds like that’s true. That’ll get ‘im!

Jeez man, lighten up.


Rick Chalmers November 7, 2011 at 9:27 pm

There are other professional sports teams that left town or dissolved because they couldn’t hack it.

Football can join them. Spanos and Fabiani have their heads in a dark place if they try this maneuver during the current civil unrest.



TM November 10, 2011 at 9:13 am

And what about after the civil unrest? What if things calmed down and the debt was lowered? Chances are by then there will be so many negative comments surrounding the very idea that it will be disapproved of then too. Simply thinking something seems like a bad idea DOESN’T MAKE IT A BAD IDEA. Give it a real chance. Personally, I think it’s pretty awful that so many folks seem to be immediately dismissing the idea.


La Playa Heritage November 8, 2011 at 12:50 pm

In order to analyze a combination stadium-convention center facility, the NFL Chargers should get the democrat controlled City Council to analyze both the East Village and our Waterfront site by sending out an Updated Notice of Preparation for CEQA.

As it relates to Event and Convention Center bookings, “Contiguous” Exhibition Space is magical. For Comic-Con and the large profitable Medical Conventions; beside the packed Convention Center many events are held in the Gaslamp District. And last year at the new Hilton San Diego Bayfront Hotel. In order to expand and stay in San Diego, Comic-Con and the Medical Conference Communities are requiring an increase in “Contiguous” Convention Center Space. There should be some type of Financial data available for public review. The word “Contiguous” is part of the Fire Code (Less than 10 feet horizontal between Fire Walls). If “Contiguous” was not a big deal, then there would be no need to expand the Convention Center to keep Comic Con and the large Medical conventions from moving to larger facilities who have been courting San Diego traditions.

CCDC’s and Mayor Sanders’ chosen East Village site is six blocks away and across the Train tracks. Plus the East Village site is contaminated, owned by MTS (which has not been given CCDC funds to analyze a move), requires Eminent Domain of three parcels, and the relocation or end of several existing and thriving small businesses.

Plus the Chargers should not even think about destroying the historic Wonder Bread Building, and getting into a fight with active Historic Preservation voters. Mayor Sanders’ refusal to analyze Alternative and Superior Solutions than his chosen and unwanted ByPass Bridge; seems like the same type of treatment the NFL Chargers are getting from his Administration.

When the idea of a Third Expansion for the Convention Center was first discussed, the planned 3rd Expansion was sited within the Marina on unreclaimed Tidelands. West, and in front of the original Convention Center building (with the 2 levels of subterranean parking), the San Diego Marriott Marquis and Marina

, and Embarcadero Marina Park North. Caltrans Seismic Engineers have mapped an active fault through the original Convention Center expansion location. Subsequent to the formation of the Convention Center Taskforce, the first site on the Waterfront within the existing Marina was abandoned, with no explanation from the Port or City of San Diego on their change of strategy, and the elimination the iconic Waterfront site.

Please analyze our solution for a Contiguous Convention Center Expansion on the public’s Waterfront in San Diego Bay that would meet the Convention Center’s real need for Contiguous Exhibit Space, and would negate all the problems with Mayor Sanders’ chosen East Village site. Plus the use of Cistern Structural Foundations could lead to Water Security for the San Diego region.

We are still awaiting word from the California Coastal Commission and the State Lands Commission if the idea of full public Tideland Reclamation and improved Coastal Access will override Mayor Sanders’ spokesperson Steve Cushman’s unsubstantiated concerns. Specifically that the California Coastal Commission would never agreed to allow our contaminated Tidelands to be developed by filling in.


SD Rostra November 10, 2011 at 10:01 am

We don’t get cooties by coming here either and appreciate the OB Rag as part of the ongoing discussion of issues in San Diego. However, we also request that if you would like to publish any of our blog posts in their entirety, that we get asked so we may check with the author. As is the commonly-used practice on the web, a small snippet of another entity’s content may be posted, with a link to the original post. Not the biggest deal in the world, as you have included the links, but we can’t assume that our individual bloggers at Rostra are okay with their full posts being published elsewhere without their permission. Thanks.


Frank Gormlie November 10, 2011 at 10:11 am

Okay, SD Rostra, duly noted. We also know Tony and didn’t think he would mind.


SD Rostra November 10, 2011 at 10:44 am

Thanks, Frank, we appreciate that. You may be right about Tony, but the question was raised on Rostra this morning. All that said, we do appreciate the fact that you gave us full credit with the links. We are awaiting a response from the UT regarding their Chargers article this morning, in which it appears Fabiani is quoted right out of the Rostra post, without any credit whatsoever. Thanks again.


Frank Gormlie November 10, 2011 at 10:49 am

Yeah, the big guys never give us little guys credit – or very reluctantly. Good luck.


San Dieagan November 11, 2011 at 12:51 am

Again (and again, and again) … after ANOTHER predictable loss (Oakland Raiders 24- San Diego Chargers 17) by the chargerless Chargers, when are San Diego taxpayers going to say “Enough is ENOUGH!!!” … and do everything in their power to persuade Alex Spanos to relocate his expensive “hobby” to another city that is naive enough to think that this football franchise under his tutelage will garner them with a Super Bowl win and tons of money for the populace.

Not to be repetitive, but my suggestion to Mr. Spanos is:

1. Buy your own land
2. Build your own stadium
3. Charge people (like every other business) to partake in what you do in that facility.

Otherwise……… find another city to pay for your hobby!!!


Rene Blanco July 14, 2015 at 2:50 am

In one simple comedy sketch and a clear power point display presentation on HBO, John Oliver pointed out the misguided greed and power that has lead The Spanos Sons to “stop the Chargers game and take their ball home” to Carson so to speak. This then motivates a leech and louse lawyer like Mark Fabiani to earn his false living. Now the Spanos Sons and Mark Fabiani are a shameful embarrassment to San Diego.


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