San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer. Photo by Chris Stone
San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer. Photo by Chris Stone

Mayor Kevin Faulconer said Thursday the Chargers made a bad decision to leave San Diego and owner Dean Spanos will ultimately regret it.

“Dean Spanos made a bad decision and he will regret it. San Diego didn’t lose the Chargers. The Chargers just lost San Diego,” Faulconer said at a press conference.

The Chargers rejected every offer from the city, according to the mayor, including one made just weeks ago. “At the end of the day, the Chargers wanted a lot more taxpayer money than we could ever agree to,” Faulconer said.

Other area officials were harsher in their assessments, accusing the team’s owners of negotiating in bad faith.

City Councilman Scott Sherman said the ownership was a problem throughout the whole process, and they never gave a straight answer to anything.

“(Chargers stadium counsel) Mark Fabiani and Dean Spanos have tirelessly worked behind the scenes to subvert every single action of the City Council and this mayor have done to try and put something on the table to try and keep the Chargers here,” Sherman said.

San Diego State University President Elliot Hirshman, who helped craft a last-ditch offer to Spanos, said countless good-faith discussions were held on the stadium issue.

“Unfortunately, we didn’t have a good faith partner,” Hirshman said, referring to the Chargers.

SDSU stands to benefit from the team’s departure through redevelopment of the Qualcomm Stadium site, which college officials have eyed for years for expansion. The site could also hold a new stadium for the Aztecs football program, as well as a professional soccer team.

The decision climaxing the Chargers’ long-running search for a new playing facility came two months after the defeat of Measure C, which would have raised hotel room taxes to provide the public portion of the cost of building a downtown stadium. Because of the tax increase, the ballot measure required two-thirds approval to pass, but it failed to even get a simple majority.

San Diego City Councilman Chris Cate, who led the opposition to Measure C, said he didn’t find the announcement surprising.

“It became apparent in 2015 that the Chargers preferred Los Angeles, as they continued to show an unwillingness to negotiate a potential stadium deal here in San Diego, and with their recent action to execute a lease for a new headquarters and practice facility outside of the city,” Cate said. “I accept the Chargers decision and understand that they believed this action was the best financial decision for their business.”

He said he will turn his focus to “finding a long-term vision for the Mission Valley site” of Qualcomm Stadium that will be “in the best interest of San Diegans.”

On Twitter, Supervisor Ron Roberts, who led county efforts to find a new home for the team, said, “The Chargers will stand next to Donald Sterling in the Hall of Shame. It hurts, but we will move on. San Diego is a great community.”

Sterling is the former owner of the San Diego Clippers who moved that franchise to Los Angeles in the 1980s.

City News Service contributed to this article.

Chris Jennewein

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