Tuesday, May 02, 2006 | As the San Diego City Council granted the Chargers the right to negotiate with other cities in the county Monday, details began to emerge surrounding a possible stadium proposal brewing in Chula Vista.

Hamstrung by the larger concerns of its financial crisis, the council voted unanimously Monday to give cities in the county a head start in stadium talks with football club. On Jan. 1, the team can begin speaking with other cities that have expressed interest, such as Anaheim, San Antonio or Las Vegas.

Mayor Jerry Sanders proposed the amendment last month, signaling that no progress had been made after the team announced in January that it had failed to find a development partner for its ambitious stadium proposal. It was originally thought that the plan for a new stadium and mixed-use development at the Qualcomm Stadium site in Mission Valley was going to be put before voters in November.

“Today we begin by doing everything possible we can to keep the Chargers a regional asset. Allowing them to look elsewhere in San Diego County until the end of the year will give us a better chance of keeping them here,” said Jim Waring, the city’s land-use czar.

The council didn’t ask the team to retain San Diego in its official name should it relocate within the county. City Attorney Mike Aguirre suggested doing so in order to avoid a repeat of what happened in Anaheim, where the baseball club changed its name to the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim after years of simply being the Anaheim Angels. Mark Fabiani, the Chargers’ special counsel, said the team wouldn’t have agreed to the lease amendment should the council have stipulated retaining San Diego in the name.

Parties from Oceanside, National City and Chula Vista have demonstrated interest in talking with the Chargers, but were unable to do so under the terms of the team’s former lease.

HomeFed Corp., a residential real estate developer based in Carlsbad, has emerged as an interested party. The company originally spoke with the team when it was looking for a homebuilder to partner with for its original proposal to build a new stadium, office buildings and 6,000 condos on the current stadium site in Mission Valley.

The company owns about 3,000 undeveloped acres in Chula Vista’s Otay Ranch under its subsidiary, Otay Land Company, LLC. About 700 acres of that land is developable, according to company filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

“As a business matter, we are interested in the Chargers,” said Paul Borden, company president.

Borden declined to comment on the specifics of any possible stadium proposal.

HomeFed owns individual parcels in Otay Ranch of 494 acres, 320 acres and 268 acres under different zoning entitlements, such as retail, commercial, and research and limited industrial. The company’s land is currently zoned to accommodate 2,880 dwelling units, according to company documents.

The Chargers’ original proposal for Mission Valley envisioned putting 6,000 condos on approximately 60 acres of land and using the proceeds from the condo sales to finance a $450 million stadium.

The team said the proposal died because of concerns surrounding the city’s legal and financial future, as well as concerns from some builders over the viability of adding 6,000 condos in Mission Valley at a time when most analysts say the real estate market is cooling.

The team began the process of lobbying for a new stadium in 2002 and has been engaged in negotiations, lawsuits or task force proceedings with the city since then.

The company’s parcels are bisected by State Route 125 in Otay Ranch, where Chula Vista officials have begun efforts to lure a four-year university. Chula Vista City Councilman John McCann has also expressed interest in bringing the team to the South Bay city.

Fabiani said the team hadn’t yet studied any parcels or proposals outside of the city of San Diego, as was mandated by the previous lease.

“The first order of business, once the lease amendment becomes effective, will be for us to take a couple of weeks and figure out how to sensibly catalogue options within the county of San Diego,” Fabiani said in an e-mail.

David Carter, a sports business consultant in Redondo Beach, said smaller cities are usually at a disadvantage because they are often perceived to lack the sophistication of their larger counterparts. They also don’t have the tax base, infrastructure or corporate centers that big cities often boast.

“It doesn’t mean the big cities do things better, but they have the infrastructure to do the deals,” Carter said.

What’s playing out in San Diego is very predictable, as professional sports are always in a position to leverage open markets against other cities where teams are disenfranchised, he said.

“Don’t get all fired up on any special piece of news because they are all collectively part of a process that is played out in cities across the country,” Carter said.

– Sam Hodgson contributed to this report.

Please contact Andrew Donohue at

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