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Q&A: Mark Fabiani; Special Counsel to the San Diego Chargers

Discussion in 'Chargers Fan Forum' started by ChargerRay, Oct 10, 2006.

  1. ChargerRay

    ChargerRay #FireMcCoy #FireReich #FirePagano Staff Member Super Moderator Podcaster

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    http://www.signonsandiego.com/uniontrib/20061008/news_lz1e8fabiani.html

    Fabiani, a 1982 graduate of Harvard Law School, joined the Chargers as special counsel to President Dean Spanos in April 2002, with a primary assignment to work with the community and local governments for development of a new, state-of-the-art football facility to replace Qualcomm Stadium. He previously served as deputy campaign manager for Vice President Al Gore's presidential campaign in 2000 and, prior to that, was special counsel to President Bill Clinton. He was also a deputy assistant attorney general at the Justice Department, a deputy assistant secretary at the Department of Housing and Urban Development, and deputy mayor and chief of staff to Los Angeles Mayor Tom Bradley. Fabiani was interviewed Monday by the Union-Tribune editorial board.

    You recently said that the Chargers don't believe they can build a stadium in the city of San Diego because of Mike Aguirre's potential interference. Is that the case?

    Yes. Simply put, the idea that a developer and the Chargers are going to spend at least three and probably four years of time and tens of millions of dollars, at least, to get through an election campaign in 2008, to get through a process that will last at least 18 months – a change in the community plan, you've got to get an environmental impact report certified, get a traffic-mitigation plan approved by the city, by the state, by the Army Corps of Engineers, doing all of that and then still be in a position where, because Mike Aguirre thinks that he can file lawsuits on his own even if the City Council disagrees with it, it is way too much of a risk for anybody to take under these circumstances.

    That is not what you said earlier. You said that developers were unwilling to do a deal on the Qualcomm site because of the city's financial problems.

    That is part of what we said. But we also said that if the Chargers are forced to leave San Diego, Mike Aguirre will be the reason.

    Did developers say to you we think it's too high risk to do business in the city of San Diego because of the city attorney?


    It was part of the calculation that people made that the project was a difficult project to begin with. It is a difficult project to persuade the private sector to invest over $800 million, probably closer to $1 billion, in a project to build the new stadium, build the traffic improvements, tear down the old stadium, pay off the bonds on the old stadium and then, and only then, start to build profit-making condominiums.

    Not building a stadium in San Diego seems like too big of a project to be shot down just because of the city attorney. Give us some of the other items on your list, if he's at the top, that are driving this decision.

    We've been pretty clear about the items. First, we talked about Mike Aguirre. Second, we talked at length about the instability at City Hall, the fact that trying to get public approval in the city of San Diego for an ambitious project of this type is extremely difficult under any circumstances. But it becomes nearly impossible at a time when there's such chaos at City Hall, when people aren't confident in the leadership of the city, when people aren't willing to take a chance on a project that is by any measure ambitious. So the overall atmosphere is not conducive to getting the kind of investment that you need to get for a project like this. The third thing I think is just the practical issues based on what's going on down at City Hall. When will the city get back in the bond market? When will the city's credit rating be returned to normal? When will the specter of bankruptcy lift so that you don't end up working on a project for two or three years and then you end up in federal bankruptcy court with the whole project stalled. All of those things are problems. But even if you had normal circumstances at City Hall, if you still had a city attorney who claimed the right to sue you even if the mayor supported you, even if the council supported you, even if you won a public vote, if you had a situation where the city attorney could still sue you and you could still be in court, not against Bruce Henderson, but against the city of San Diego with a well-funded legal team who oppose you and tie you up for years, you wouldn't do it if you were an investor.

    Tell us the status of your discussions with Chula Vista.

    Chula Vista is a site that's owned by a private party, Home Fed Corp. And we have been working with Home Fed Corp and its leader, Paul Borden, to attempt to figure out the answer to one question and one question only: Does it make sense for Home Fed Corp. to partner with us for a stadium? And the answer to that depends on again one calculation: Does our stadium add enough to Home Fed's existing entitlements on that land to justify an investment by Home Fed? And I don't think we know the answer to that. I don't think Home Fed knows the answer to that. We're working through a process to get to that answer.

    If it's yes, would this be pretty much a private deal?

    It would.

    I suppose the city would have land-use control decisions to make, but in general there would be no public dollars invested in the Chula Vista site?

    We assume that's the case across the board.

    You mean for infrastructure and that kind of thing?


    If you all remember, our proposal for Qualcomm Stadium went through different iterations over time. And those iterations were created by the fact that we went to hundreds of community meetings. We learned what people didn't like about our proposal. They didn't like the ticket guarantee. We got rid of that. They didn't like our training camp being in Carson. We brought the training camp back. They didn't like some other things we were doing and we fixed those. But the thing they didn't like about our proposal (for a new stadium) was the redevelopment district. They didn't like the fact that we were using any tax money on the project. So we changed that. We said we would pay for everything once the public agreed to invest the 60 acres or so of land there. And so that's our logic going forward. We do not anticipate getting any public money for anything – for infrastructure, for the stadium, for the parking garages, for anything.

    The Mission Valley proposal was for the city to give you the land. In the case of Chula Vista, the developer will not be giving you the land. Doesn't that make it more difficult for you to do it?

    It does and it doesn't. It does because the land has a value to the landowner and he's not going to give that up for nothing. On the other hand, does a stadium add sufficient value to his property to justify a significant investment? How could that be? I'm speculating here, but it could be because the city might give that landowner increased density on that site to allow him to build things he might not otherwise be allowed to build in return for his investment. The stadium could attract universities to the proposed university center that Chula Vista has been trying to get off the ground. And if that's the case, that changes the whole character of that area. It creates the possibility of a Class A office market where there isn't one now. It creates the possibility of other types of businesses, research industries, biotech, where there isn't any now. So those are a couple of examples how a stadium might increase the value of someone's existing property. Does it increase it enough to justify the kind of investment that it takes to build a stadium and the infrastructure privately? Again, I don't know the answer to that.

    What are the pros and cons of the Chula Vista site?


    It's a huge piece of land. It's in an interesting area that's going to have a lot of interesting growth in the future. And you're working with a private developer and you're working with a city that seems to be pro-business in its orientation. The city seems to have planned for the future. When you drive the east-west corridors there you see the huge medians in the middle that have been left for future mass transit. So all of that is a plus. The negative is it is far south. It's not served by a well-known freeway. It's served by the 125, which is new to everybody. And the plus and the minus are the same: It's owned by a private developer and if the private developer isn't interested in working with you then that's kind of the end of the story.

    Give us a status report on National City.


    National City I think is moving more quickly. We are working with the Port Commission and Commissioner Steve Cushman, as well as National City, on the site plan to figure out whether it's possible to locate a stadium and the necessary parking, to build new freeway on-and off-ramps, and to relocate the trolley from the east side of the freeway to the west. Whether it's possible to do all of that while maintaining the maritime functions on the site. And again, both sites have a simple question attached to them. In Chula Vista it is: Does the developer want to work with you? In National City, it is: Is there a way to create all of this activity on the site while maintaining the maritime functions at the site, protecting those jobs, protecting those businesses?
     
  2. ChargerRay

    ChargerRay #FireMcCoy #FireReich #FirePagano Staff Member Super Moderator Podcaster

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    On the surface it would seem that the National City site has far more hurdles to jump over. You've got the whole situation with the maritime industry, limited development possibilities in National City, and you've got to deal with the city of National City, the Port District, the Coastal Commission.

    Nothing seems hard after you've been through four years at Qualcomm. And I mean that in a serious way. The Qualcomm project was extremely difficult. Putting Mike Aguirre and the city's problems on the list, but also just the sheer complexity of trying to build a new stadium while you played in the old stadium, trying to park people and doing the logistics of all that, worrying about the groundwater contamination, worrying about pleasing a lot of people who aren't going to like a bridge over the river. So for every site, including the Qualcomm site, the list of problems that you have to get over – it's an enormous list. I guess what we felt with the project in the city of San Diego is if you didn't have a willing partner on the other side, and in fact if you had an active opponent on the other side, that getting over all those problems was just impossible. We don't feel that way in National City and Chula Vista because we have a willing partner in the city so far, we have a willing partner in the Port Commission so far.

    Is the port willing to give you the land?

    We haven't gotten that far. The concept, though, is the same I think as the concept at Qualcomm. And that is to find a piece of land that may now be badly utilized or under-utilized and see whether you might, with private investment, turn it into a more well-utilized, revenue-generating piece of land.

    Is it part of the deal that the team would remain the San Diego Chargers?

    That's what we would want. We would want to remain in name the San Diego Chargers.

    Has North County been ruled out?

    No. We would eagerly entertain sites in North County. We've avidly looked for them. There's just not one that's been proposed so far.

    The clock is ticking.

    It is, but let's talk about the clock because I know that's something I get asked about every time I go and speak. Jan. 1 we are eligible to begin talking to other cities around the country. The team can relocate after the 2008 season by paying off the remaining bonds at Qualcomm Stadium, which is about $57 million, more or less, at that point. Our goal is that when another city calls us sometime in 2007, that we are in a position to say to that other city, “Thank you for calling, we appreciate your interest, but no thanks, we're not interested in talking to you, we have a site or two sites in San Diego County that we believe could lead to a stadium. We're not there yet, we're a long way from getting there, but we see the path to success on one or two sites and therefore we're not interested in talking to you.”

    But you're not anywhere near that at this point and Jan. 1 is looming.

    I wouldn't say we're far away from that point. I think that at least with respect to the National City site if we can get over the first hurdle, which is: Is there a way physically to configure that site so that it looks like it could host a stadium and the parking garages and the freeway on-and off-ramps? If you could do that, then I think you've gotten over a major hurdle. And you then have to figure out, OK what are the issues with the Coastal Commission, what are the issues with the state tidelands, and all of the things that you've got to figure out.

    What about the other half of the National City deal, which is a development opportunity to pay for the stadium?


    I think that once we've opened up, thanks to the lease amendment in May, the possibility of working in more than one city, we now open up the possibility of doing the development on more than one site.

    In more than one other city?

    Possibly, sure.

    Why would another city make land available for a stadium in National City? How would that work?

    It could work because of the revenue that's generated and shared among the different cities, the new taxes that are generated. If you look at the Denver stadium deal, for example, that's exactly what happened in Denver. They formed a (joint powers authority) among several different counties there and they all share in the benefits of the stadium. They all share in the benefits of the development. And there's no reason why that can't work here.

    Have you had any calls from the 310 (Los Angeles) area code?


    None so far. We have religiously disclosed every call that we've gotten. I think we may have gotten a call, maybe three years ago now, from someone who worked for the Coliseum Commission and we disclosed that. But that's the only one.

    Do you agree from a theoretical point of view that L.A. is more attractive now than it's been since the teams left in 1994?


    I've got to be careful about what I say because we are prohibited by our lease from doing anything that would be seen as negotiating with another city. So these are general comments. But if the premise of your question were true, that Los Angeles is such an attractive market, the fact is there would already be a team there. And there isn't one. And it doesn't seem like there's going to be one in the foreseeable future from what everyone says.

    Do Orange County officials not know what they're talking about when they say they have a real chance at drawing in the Chargers?

    All I can say is these markets are empty of teams for a reason. Los Angeles lost the Rams and the Raiders. Orange County lost the Rams. There's a reason why the markets are empty. And I think the simplest reason is the stadiums that are there are outmoded and there's no public support for putting money into them to fix them. So there's the need for a private party to raise the money to build a new stadium. And then you've got to acquire the team on top of that. And those numbers are just very, very tough.

    The hurdles you face at Qualcomm, National City and Chula Vista would exist anywhere. Isn't it simplistic to think that some other place is ready to hand the Chargers or any franchise a $600 million stadium?


    I think in California I don't think anybody should go into any stadium discussion thinking they're going to get public money. And that's true for Oakland, that's true for San Francisco, that's true for the Chargers and it's true for teams or expansion owners that might be looking at L.A. and Anaheim. There's just not the appetite in California for those kinds of subsidies. And the difference for us is we're here. We've been here for 40-plus years. Our fans are here. We know what we can do here. We know what we can sell here. It's a proven market. And that means a lot. Dean Spanos does not want to go through what other owners who have moved their teams have gone through. Dean is the kind of person that wants to work something out that assures him that his team can be competitive going into the future. He is not looking for the last dollar on the table from this deal. He never has been. We know what we have here. We've got a loyal fan base. I think in the last couple of years we've done a lot to improve our relationship with the community, getting rid of that ticket guarantee, moving the training camp back, doing more with our community relations and philanthropy, obviously putting a better team on the field, so we've got a good thing going here. The question is how can you get over the stadium issue. But I think the stadium issue is the same anywhere in California. And someone who thinks that it's easier in L.A. or easier in Anaheim, they just don't know what they're talking about.

    Looking at the bad history of this franchise from a marketing standpoint and other reasons, why should people trust that you guys are going to stay long term and that you will be fair and up front?

    I think first of all you have to look at what we've done. Had we wanted to leave, we would never have renegotiated our lease. We would never have gotten rid of a lease that provided the downside protection that you just talked about. If people stop buying your tickets, you have a ticket guarantee. We would never have gotten rid of that. We would never have gotten rid of a provision in our lease that required the city to maintain the facility as a “state of the art NFL facility.” If we had wanted to leave, we would have kept our old lease, we would have left through the trigger, we would have left through suing the city for breach, for not maintaining the stadium as a state of the art facility. We would have left without paying the city one red cent. That's what the old lease would have allowed us to do. Instead, we put in place a new lease that requires us in the first couple of years to pay off all the bonds and in later years still requires us to pay off a substantial chunk. Versus an old lease where we could have just left if we wanted to. Look at what (else) we've done. We moved our training camp back. If we were looking to move, why would we have done that? Why spend all this time and money that we're spending now on these proposals? Why go through the Qualcomm proposal? Why try to find a development partner? Why do what we're doing with National City and Chula Vista? If you want to leave, you sit back quietly, you don't make any news, and you pull the moving vans up in the middle of the night and you leave. That's not what we've done. We have done exactly the opposite of what an owner would do if an owner wanted to leave. Again, we don't ask people to believe what we say, we ask people to look at what we've done.
     
  3. Kitsune-udon

    Kitsune-udon BoltTalker

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    I never heard a straight answer on what the city was planning to do with the Qualcomm site for the future?
     
  4. boltssbbound

    boltssbbound Well-Known Member

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    Hard to argue with alot of Fabiani's points. I for one believe the Spanoses want to stay in SD. The question is whether or not the various governmental authorities will pull their heads out of their asses and get something done.
     
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  5. ntman68

    ntman68 Well-Known Member

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    This may be a very naive question, but what exactly is wrong with the stadium now? Because it's the oldest in the league, is it just keeping up with the Jones'?
     
  6. turbo_turtle

    turbo_turtle In Disguise

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    For this time I agree with you 100% with no problems what so ever.

    My opinion is that the Government of San Diego wants the Chargers to build a Stadium that has a much larger park than the one in the Chargers proposal to use to include very limited office/ retail buildings space but to have more housing to go with the park space.

    That is my thoughts.
     
  7. anger management

    anger management Well-Known Member

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    No more Super Bowls. Not enough luxury boxes. Bathrooms, common areas, and walk ways are WAY too cramped. Infrastructure is a joke. Plumbing is failing. Very antiquated.

    It's time. The only one that should get one before us is the Niners. The raiders would be in front of us as well if they didn't have the additional revenue of the Athletics coming in, which puts them at #3.

    :bolt:
     
  8. PhillyChargerFan

    PhillyChargerFan New Member

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    What am I missing here?? You have Alex who is willing to flip the bill for EVERYTHING (except land). and the city is saying NO?!?!

    I don't get it. Years ago the team would wind up paying NOTHING and get everything handed to them. This is the complete opposite and the city is still saying no??

    Someone please clairfy this for me....
     
  9. Kitsune-udon

    Kitsune-udon BoltTalker

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    I'm still trying to figure out what the city plans to do with the environmental disaster which is the ground under Qualcomm Stadium. What are they planning to do with the site once the Chargers aren't there and SDSU is playing in the new Chargers stadium?
     
  10. Thread_Killer

    Thread_Killer Well-Known Member

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    Sounds like Aguirre is pretty much a ********.

    :lol:
     
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  11. cranberry

    cranberry BoltTalker

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    :icon_shrug:
    I hope so too. I can't imagine Chargers without San Diego.:bolt:
     
  12. ChargerRay

    ChargerRay #FireMcCoy #FireReich #FirePagano Staff Member Super Moderator Podcaster

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    This statement from mark fabiani was released earlier today.

    Statement from Mark Fabiani

    Special Counsel to the San Diego Chargers Mark Fabiani issued the following statement on Tuesday:

    STATEMENT

    Mark Fabiani
    Special Counsel to the Chargers
    October 10, 2006

    The Chargers are grateful for the leadership demonstrated by the San Diego Port Commissioners, Port Commission staff, and the representatives of National City. We are encouraged by the Port Commission’s preliminary conclusion that it is possible to include a Super Bowl-quality professional football stadium on the Port’s National City site while continuing to maintain and enhance the Port’s maritime mission on the site and the work of the waterfront businesses located there. The Chargers look forward to the opportunity to continuing to work with the Port Commission and National City to explore these preliminary conclusions further and to begin assessing how it might be possible to finance this project privately. We still have a very long way to go, of course, but today’s preliminary conclusions give us all good reason to continue our work together to keep the Chargers in the San Diego region.

    http://www.chargers.com/news/press-releases/press-release-20061010.php
     
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  13. Thumper

    Thumper WHS

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    Donna Frye wants to make it a big park.
     
  14. MasterOfPuppets

    MasterOfPuppets Charger fan since 1979

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    for which the city has no money for :icon_shrug: I would love to see a new ball park in National City or Chula Vista and see a wasteland where the Q once was
     
  15. MasterOfPuppets

    MasterOfPuppets Charger fan since 1979

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    One more thing

    Analyzing the possible suitors for the Chargers if they where to leave

    1) LA/Orange County, where would the Chargers play while they build the stadium (which would take 2-3 years) ? the coliseum? they would have to start building it after the 2008 season and the Chargers can't stay here while they build it since fans would no longer support the team

    2) Las Vegas, worse situation than LA/Orange County, no real stadium right now, gambling, etc.

    3) San Antonio, this is interesting, they have the Alamo Dome which I think was built in the early 90's so that would make it almost 20 years old by the time the Chargers move in in 09, would San Antonio build another stadium?

    I'm thinking the Chargers move to National City
     
  16. Trumpet_Man

    Trumpet_Man Well-Known Member

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    San Antonio would build a stadium with taxpayer money and the tax payers would not biitch about it just to get an NFL team.

    The Alamo dome is a POS but worked for the Saints after Katrina and sold out so the NFL took notice.
     
  17. MasterOfPuppets

    MasterOfPuppets Charger fan since 1979

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    didn't San Antonio build the Alamo dome to lure an NFL team? if so that would be TWO stadiums built to bring in an NFL franchise
     

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