Kevin Faulconer announcing the Chargers Stadium task force
Kevin Faulconer announcing the nine-member Chargers Stadium task force at Petco Park. Photo courtesy of the mayor’s office

Updated at 5:20 p.m. Jan. 30, 2015

A nine-member task force tasked with finding a location to build a new stadium for the Chargers, and coming up with a plan to pay for its construction, was publicly introduced Friday by San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer.

The civic, business and community leaders include former National Football League and Chargers executive Jim Steeg, former county Chief Administrative Officer and city Chief Operating Officer Walt Ekard, and San Diego Gas & Electric Chairman Jessie Knight.

Jessie Knight

He said the group will develop, by this fall, a “real, tangible plan for a new stadium” that can be put before voters in 2016.

“That’s never been done before,” Faulconer said. “Yes, we’ve had renderings. Yes, we’ve had ideas floated about how you can possibly, maybe, fund it, but those aren’t plans. A plan is when somebody tells you this is where it’s going to go, this is how we’re going to build it, and most importantly, this is how it’s going to be paid for.”

Faulconer first announced the formation of the task force at his “State of the City” address more than two weeks ago, and it was sharply denounced by the Chargers.

Mark Fabiani, the team’s point-man in the stadium search, said at the time that another task force was unnecessary and that the team didn’t want San Diego Convention Center Corp. Director Steve Cushman to be part of the group.

Cushman, who is leading the city’s effort to expand the convention facility, is not a task force member. The Chargers contend he scuttled an earlier idea to put a stadium on Port of San Diego property.

Fabiani released a more conciliatory statement today upon the introduction of the task force members.

“The Chargers have been working on stadium solutions in San Diego for the last 13 years, and we have already committed to continuing that work for a 14th year in 2015,” Fabiani said, via the Chargers website.

“We will be happy to share with the mayor’s new task force the nine different stadium proposals the Chargers have made over the years, as well as the ideas produced by another city-appointed task force and by two separate outside experts hired by the city during this period,” Fabiani said. “We will also be pleased to evaluate any other ideas generated by this latest task force.”

Officials with the city and Chargers have met since the “State of the City” address and Fabiani’s initial negative reaction, according to the mayor’s office.

Also on the task force are:

  • Doug Barnhart, whose construction firm works on numerous major commercial projects
  • Rod Dammeyer, a private equity investor
  • Adam Day, a California State University trustee and assistant tribal manager of the Sycuan reservation
  • Aimee Fawcett, chief operating officer of the San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce
  • Jason Hughes, president and CEO of the Hughes Marino commercial real estate firm
  • Mary Lydon, executive director of the Urban Land Institute-San Diego and Tijuana

The committee will examine the current Qualcomm site in Mission Valley and a possible stadium combined with the convention center in the downtown area. Faulconer said the financing plan will have to reflect a “fair, good deal” that taxpayers can support at the ballot box.

Steeg, who helped put on 26 Super Bowls with the NFL and has worked on stadium issues, said the group will analyze stadium construction projects over the last 15 years for football and other sports.

“This group is a very diverse group that comes from all walks of life, public service, land use, business, finance and sports,” Steeg said. “But above all else, we’re San Diegans. The mayor has charged this group to come up with a plan that works for everyone in this community.”

The challenge of paying for a facility that could cost upwards of $1 billion comes at a time of competing priorities, in which a new financing plan is needed for the convention center expansion and the backlog of other infrastructure projects — like road resurfacing and improving storm drains — has reached nearly $4 billion.

Mark Kersey, the chairman of the Infrastructure Committee, was among several City Council members to issue statements after Faulconer’s announcement.

“This new task force consists of people who will put together the best plan for both the team and the taxpayers of San Diego,” Kersey said.

“I look forward to working with them and hearing their final recommendations later this year,” Kersey said. “I commend the mayor for his commitment to making sure San Diego will finally have a real Chargers stadium plan to consider before the next Super Bowl.”

Councilman Todd Gloria said, “Every Chargers fan is hopeful the mayor’s task force will succeed where others have failed and that we will retain professional football in a manner that meets the needs of the team and taxpayers.”

Councilman Scott Sherman commended the mayor for not continuing “the pattern of kicking the can down the road.”

“As a lifelong Chargers fan, it is very encouraging to see an advisory group filled with experts from a variety of fields that will for the first time create a real plan for a new Chargers stadium,” Sherman said.

Councilman Chris Cate said he’s “optimistic that the nine-member task force will be vigilant toward taxpayers’ dollars when providing the thorough analysis for a stadium.”

At a separate news conference in Phoenix, where the Super Bowl will be held Sunday, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said some teams are interested in moving to Los Angeles, where a stadium has been proposed for the suburb of Inglewood, but they are trying to work out their issues locally first.

Faulconer has said several times that San Diego is closer to losing the Chargers to another city than ever before.

— City News Service

Chris Jennewein

Chris Jennewein is Editor & Publisher of Times of San Diego.