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Attorney leads pursuit in Escondido

Discussion in 'American Football' started by Johnny Lightning, Oct 11, 2009.

  1. Johnny Lightning

    Johnny Lightning Go Bolts

    Feb 7, 2006
    Meetings with developers drawing Chargers' interest

    By Matthew T. Hall
    Union-Tribune Staff Writer
    October 11, 2009

    The San Diego Chargers held training camp in Escondido from 1964 to 1968 at a Travelodge east of what is now Interstate 15.

    So it's easy for local land-use attorney Dave Ferguson to imagine the team playing in a new stadium in the same general area.

    “What this would be is the Chargers coming home,” Ferguson said.

    Ferguson, who represents a nearby landowner, began informal talks with officials from Escondido and the Chargers several months ago about the prospect of moving the team to a site southeast of where state Route 78 meets Interstate 15.

    In a sign of progress, Ferguson is setting up meetings with developers to ask them how they might privately finance a new stadium in Escondido via ancillary development, such as retail or office space.

    The first meeting was Sept. 28. A meeting with another developer is planned for next week. These meetings involve Ferguson, Escondido Mayor Lori Holt Pfeiler and Chargers special counsel Mark Fabiani, the team's stadium-search point person.

    The first developer might sketch out a plan to help offset the potential billion-dollar cost of stadium construction by month's end, but a specific proposal is at least six months away, Ferguson said.

    “I'm convinced that there is a legitimate opportunity here,” Ferguson said. “I won't be optimistic until I see a balanced budget.”

    Ferguson, Pfeiler and Fabiani declined to identify the developers being courted, but Ferguson called them “household names” and Pfeiler said each has “a good track record” and is “big enough to handle a good-sized project.”

    Fabiani said the first developer understood “the daunting nature” of privately financing a billion-dollar deal in this economy.

    “We're hoping that the opportunity is attractive enough that they'll at least put the challenges to the side,” Fabiani said.

    Even if the project pencils out, its success hinges on a number of landowners in the area being willing to unload parcels at affordable prices. The project would require up to 60 acres. More than 40 acres might be assembled at market rates via 21 acres of city land, 9 acres where an Albertsons grocery store once operated, and the nearly 12-acre site of the Escondido Swap Meet, whose owners Ferguson represents — but those places aren't all contiguous.

    Fabiani said this represents a major challenge. While the city could condemn land for public purposes such as parking and streets, the city's redevelopment agency lacks eminent domain power to acquire property for the project.

    “Some people may not want to sell at all for their own reasons,” Fabiani said. “Some people may see this as an opportunity to inflate the price of their land. All it takes is one key holdout to stop the project.”

    Pfeiler said assembling the land would be difficult but could be done.

    “Piece by piece, we may be able to put this puzzle together,” she said. “I believe that we can cobble together enough land to make it worthwhile.”

    The Chargers' search for a new stadium began in 2002 with an assertion that higher revenues from a new stadium and luxury boxes and suites would make the team more competitive in the National Football League.

    Since then, the Chargers have ruled out a replacement of Qualcomm Stadium at its 166-acre Mission Valley site, and fruitlessly explored options in National City, Oceanside and Chula Vista.

    The Chargers still say they want to stay in San Diego County, but Los Angeles-area developers have announced intentions to approach the Chargers and five other NFL teams after this season about a possible relocation to a stadium they hope to build in the city of Industry.

    The Chargers are able to break a lease that runs through 2020 by paying a termination fee. That fee is $54.6 million in 2010 and $25.8 million in 2011.

    Fabiani is also meeting with officials in Oceanside and downtown San Diego about possibilities for a new stadium, though Oceanside's chances seem remote. A large site under discussion there seems feasible only if a nearby municipal airport is shut down, which is an unlikely occurrence.

    In San Diego, Fabiani meets regularly if informally with representatives of the mayor and city attorney. He said one draw there is that the parking and infrastructure downtown would shave about $200 million off construction costs.

    While some Oceanside city officials have suggested the Chargers are using them to leverage a better deal out of Industry or elsewhere, Pfeiler said the Chargers' interest in Escondido seems sincere.

    She said the city's efforts rest with the developers.

    “They may come back and say we have something to work with, or you guys are all wet,” Pfeiler said. “But I hope they come back and say we have something to work with.”

  2. RM24

    RM24 BoltTalker

    Jul 27, 2007
    Ladies and Gentlemen, Introducing YOUR ESCONDIDO CHARGERS!! :icon_eek:
  3. AnteaterRaider

    AnteaterRaider Carpe Diem et omni Mundio Staff Member Super Moderator Podcaster

    Jan 19, 2006
    playing the Foxboro patriots lol

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