He snapped balls at center for the Chargers for 11 years, but now calls himself a “stay-at-home dad” of two young sons.
That’s not all Nick Hardwick wants to stay at home.
“From a former player’s perspective, we talk about the legacy and all the effort that went into” the football team — along with that of the fans, he said after a financing plan was unveiled Monday by the Citizens’ Stadium Advisory Group.
“All of that gets washed away in an instant” if the Spanos family moves the NFL team to Los Angeles or Carson, he said. “This city can’t have that happen.”
Moreover, he told a handful of reporters, “Who says San Diego is not the better business situation? I don’t think there actually (are) Chargers fans in L.A. … It’s a transient community.”
He said San Diego was still in a “young stage” of fan development. San Diego “is where it’s at.”
“If you try to move up to L.A. and start all over again, you’ve got another 60 years before you get a diehard fan base.”
Hardwick, looking fit and healthy after losing 85 pounds from his 293-pound playing weight, said an NFL franchise is “the heart and soul of the city,” giving a community something to rally around and talk about over the neighbor’s fence.
Losing such a team means “your kids don’t have heroes to look up to,” he said.
Will the CSAG financing plan have a chance with Chargers ownership?
“I don’t think that this particular plan will be acceptable by the Chargers,” he told Times of San Diego. “But I think a plan that works off this foundation will be accepted by the Chargers.”
He called himself “very optimistic” the team and community would come together on a stadium and financing plan. “Everything that has been said or done up until is now is negotiable. … From my perspective, it’s a fair proposal.”
He commended the Chargers for “creating a sense of urgency” in the community — by laying out plans for a move to a joint-use stadium in Carson.
Asked whether the $1.1 billion stadium designed my Dan Meis and his team of architects would “improve” the football team, Hardwick said it may put “some bait on the hook” of free agency, but doesn’t automatically improve the team’s play.
He wouldn’t comment on the financing plan itself, calling it “way above my pay grade,” but he was certain of one thing.
“I plan on being in the city the rest of my life,” Hardwick said.
Chris Stone contributed to this report.