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The reason it took so long

Discussion in 'Chargers Fan Forum' started by Johnny Lightning, Oct 26, 2007.

  1. Johnny Lightning

    Johnny Lightning Go Bolts

    Feb 7, 2006
    Friday, Oct 26, 2007 , Chargers.com

    Late Thursday, Mayor Jerry Sanders said that Qualcomm Stadium would be ready for football by this weekend and that the City will be able to provide sufficient public safety personnel to manage a professional football game without impeding ongoing wildfire recovery efforts. Early Friday morning the National Football League decided today to allow the game between the Chargers and Texans to be played as originally scheduled on Sunday, Oct. 28, with kickoff at 1:05 pm. Following that announcement, Chargers President Dean Spanos sat down with Chargers.com and talked about the issue.

    Following the events of the past week, how do feel about the decision to play the game as originally scheduled?

    “I think everyone feels very good about being able to play the game. The Mayor, top City officials and I think just about everyone really want to get things back to normal as quickly as possible. Obviously the players and the organization want to get back to normal as quickly as possible. San Diego has gone through a terrible tragedy this past week. To get to this point, it really shows how resilient the people, the fans, our organization and everybody in San Diego are following this disaster.”

    Can you tell us who were involved in the decision-making process and what was discussed?

    “Contrary to what people might think, this wasn’t a decision the Chargers could make on our own. The NFL Commissioner in his sole discretion has the ultimate right to decide where and when a game will be played. With that in mind, please understand it wasn’t as easy logistically as a lot of people thought it might have been. We formally got the go-ahead late Thursday from the City that Qualcomm Stadium would be ready Sunday. Unfortunately the Commissioner and most of the NFL officials who would be involved in the decision-making process were in London for the game between the Dolphins and the Giants. So by the time we heard from the Mayor, it was in the middle of the night in London. So we all stayed up until after midnight and had a conference call with the Commissioner and other League officials when they woke up on Friday morning in London. During that call it was determined by the League that the game should be played as scheduled based on the Mayor’s and the City’s position that Qualcomm Stadium would be ready to go by Sunday.”

    What were the key factors in the decision, such as air quality and the evacuees in the stadium?

    “There were a lot of concerns. In fact, we waited as long as possible to even contact the Mayor and his top aides, because we knew how many very difficult issues they were managing this week. And once we did contact them, we were always sensitive to Mayor’s paramount priority of protecting the public’s safety. Of course, we were always mindful of the people that who there at the stadium using it as a safe haven until they were able to return to their homes. Putting on an event for 70,000 people, we were extremely concerned about the safety and well-being of the fans who would be attending. So we wanted to give the Mayor has much time as he needed to evaluate the situation. Eventually, as you know, we were assured by the Mayor that proper public safety personnel would be available and it would be possible to play football at Qualcomm on Sunday.”

    Was there ever any acrimony in the discussions between the team and City?

    “There was never any acrimony. The Mayor’s Chief Operating Officer, Jay Goldstone, did a fantastic job juggling this issue with all of the other, more pressing public safety issues he and the Mayor were confronting. We were always mindful of the pressures the Mayor was facing, and we never wanted to put any pressure on them to make a decision. We informed the Mayor that we would be fully cooperative with whatever decision he made – and were okay with whatever timetable the Mayor chose to make his decision. The Mayor and Jay Goldstone were under a tremendous amount of pressure, along with everyone at the Fire and Police Departments, and we were quite willing to wait patiently.”

    How close did the game come to being moved to another city?

    “This was a day-by-day thing. Up until yesterday, we really didn’t know whether the game was going to be played in San Diego. We needed to wait and see if the City thought enough public safety personnel would be available without impacting the wildfire recovery efforts. We also felt we needed to wait until the City made its decision about the future of Qualcomm Stadium as an evacuation center. Based on the City’s decision, told to us late Thursday, the NFL decided to go ahead and go. Up until yesterday, until the City decided, we weren’t sure.”

    Is there any accommodation being made for season ticket holders who cannot attend Sunday’s game due to this week’s tragedy?

    “Yes, we are offering the opportunity for those that cannot attend due to problems created by the wildfires to receive refunds by coming to our ticket office over the next two days.”

    How do you think the team will respond and play following the events of the past week?

    “I was in Phoenix on Wednesday on my way back from the NFL League meetings in Philadelphia and the team was very upbeat. From what I could tell, they all seemed somewhat assured that their families and homes were okay. I think the biggest and best thing for them was to get to a place where they could be with their teammates and be confident that their homes and families were cared for. It gave them a chance to further come together as a team. In some ways, it was taking a negative situation and making it a positive the best that we could. They’re a resilient group of players. I didn’t hear any complaints at all. I think they’re just anxious to get back and play a great game for everyone on Sunday.”

    How do you think the community feels about having the game played in San Diego?

    “We’ve had overwhelming support from our fans and the community. People seem to want this game played and it’s something they’re looking forward to. People are excited about it. I think following a disaster like this, the thing that helps the community the most is to get back to normal – to get things running as they usually do. I think it can have a calming effect to get back to our normal routines. It’s amazing when you look at the magnitude of this disaster, and it’s unprecedented what happened here, that within a few days San Diego has done an amazing job of getting back on its feet. You really have to admire the courage of the firefighters, police officers and sheriffs, and all of the protectors of the people of this community. For the second time in four years, they have faced a major disaster and put their lives on the line for all of us.” But we also understand that for many in our community, it will be very difficult to ever get back to normal, and our hearts go out to them and to everyone harmed by these fires.”

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