Mayor Kevin Faulconer would like you to believe he’s grown a backbone. While the city reeled from the devastating news that the Chargers would be leaving San Diego, Faulconer came out in a press conference and said, “Dean Spanos made a bad decision, and he will regret it.”
Faulconer then laid out a sad Shakespearean tale of a city that gave its all to woo its beloved partner, and how its long-time companion just wouldn’t accept it for what it was. He detailed the sacrifices that he personally made at the negotiating table, making the case that the Chargers refused to budge. At the end of the day, he found that the Chargers were too motivated by greed and had long ago decided that their future was up north, not in San Diego.
Well, no duh, Sherlock.
For years, the Chargers made it incredibly apparent that they were interested in developing a physical presence in the Los Angeles market so they could monopolize the Southern California fan base. Millions of people in Los Angeles and Orange counties were untapped potential and too sweet of a prize to pass up.
In 2015, the Chargers announced a plan to leave our city and join the Oakland Raiders in Carson. When that plan was rejected, they switched tactics and tried to finagle public funds for a new stadium. As the mayor mentioned during the press conference, the people of San Diego overwhelmingly rejected this plan.
But make no mistake, Faulconer is no tragic hero in this tale. Throughout this entire ordeal, he bent over backward to give the Chargers what they wanted. He was willing and supportive of giving the Chargers hundreds of millions in taxpayer dollars for a bad stadium deal that would negatively impact our city. He lobbied owners in distant cities to rally support for a new stadium plan. He had no public opposition to a plan that would lease out 166 acres in Mission Valley for free to keep the Chargers in town. He even went so far as allocating $2.1 million in public funds to study the environmental impact of a proposed stadium.
And in the end, the mayor got played. The Chargers are leaving San Diego fans brokenhearted and we have nothing to show for it.
It didn’t have to be this way. From the beginning, the mayor could have come out strongly against Chargers chairman Dean Spanos’ antics. He could have been a national leader in decrying the NFL and its owners for holding cities ransom for public money in order to make profit. He could have put San Diego in the national spotlight for the love of the football, not the love of money.
He didn’t. Now, along with his record of providing inadequate funding for our streets, standing by as the homeless population increases and failing to address the city’s high cost of living, he can add something else to his resume: losing the political game to the Chargers.
Joe Armenta is from four generations of Bay Park Chargers fans. Today he roots for the Philadelphia Eagles.