In January, Mayor Kevin Faulconer sounded the alarm.
“At no point in San Diego’s history has the possibility of the Chargers moving to Los Angeles been more real,” he said at his first State of the City speech.
Now, as it becomes clear that the possibility of the Chargers moving to L.A. is real, it’s the mayor who’s acting surprised.
Not just surprised. Shocked! He and the men around him are making the case that the Chargers totally deceived them.
Despite the team’s conspicuous insistence that it could not allow another team to move to L.A., it never specifically communicated to the mayor that it was putting together a deal with the Raiders.
“That’s disingenuous, that’s bad faith, that’s not how you achieve success,” the mayor said.
Since the State of the City, Faulconer has been on his heels. Now, he’s trying to put voice to Chargers fans’ outrage. The mayor is trying to play the victim.
When the team dropped its bombshell Thursday, he had two choices.
One, he could tell the Chargers to eat his shorts. Better, he could call up the mayor of St. Louis and the mayor of Oakland and they could put together a press conference where they call out this alleged duplicity and extortion and tell the NFL where to shove it. Maybe call a few members of Congress and suggest it’s time to review the NFL’s tax and anti-trust exemptions.
This seems logical if you feel you’ve been as wronged as he does. Perhaps, for once, the NFL would be on its heels when dealing with cities.
The second option, of course, was that Faulconer could scurry and try to find some way to please the petulant team.
Seems he’s decided on the latter. Not even a day after the Chargers’ announcement, the mayor groused about the team’s betrayal and how horrible it was.
But then he said he was going to get things done with his task force.
“We’re absolutely going to speed up that timeline,” he said.
By the end of the day Friday, the task force chairman announced that the group’s work would be done in three months, not seven as originally planned.
It’s almost like that original timeline was a problem.
I wrote the other day that the Chargers were panicking and that explained their hostility to the mayor and his plan. It explained why they couldn’t tolerate the timeline for the task force.
Why panic? Because of the pressure they felt from L.A. and, in particular, Stan Kroenke, the owner of the St. Louis Rams, who has land and a ballot initiative going through for a new stadium in Inglewood.
The Chargers’ nightmare is not only that the Rams move back to L.A. and steal whatever market share the Chargers have earned there but that they also lose their leverage here in San Diego.
They could be stuck here with nothing to hold over our heads. They would have lost market share and their power.
I obviously didn’t know about their deal with the devil. But I think it still makes sense. They were panicking and they pulled the nuclear option.
And I don’t think it’s a bluff. Sharing a stadium makes sense. As odious as it is, working with the Raiders to fund a new stadium makes sense too. We’ll all digest the numbers but they definitely work out better than any scenario we can picture for San Diego.
More importantly, the Chargers are buying that land in Carson. I asked Chargers special counsel Mark Fabiani whether it was one of those deals where you put down money on a piece of property but don’t have to pay the full price if you can’t get permission to build.
Nope. The Chargers will own land in Carson, Fabiani says.
“The land is right now subject to a binding purchase and sale agreement. Buyer must sell. We must buy. No contingencies. Not dependent on entitlements,” he wrote in an email.
NBC 7 San Diego reported that the land was still owned by a company called Starwood Capital Group. Sounds like it’s in escrow.
Maybe Fabiani’s lying about the binding agreement.
And maybe the mayor suspects more shenanigans.
But as devious as he may think the team is, he’s dancing to their music.