Ex-NFL official Steeg on San Diego's stadium advisory group
SAN DIEGO (AP) Former NFL executive Jim Steeg, who was in charge of running the Super Bowl for 26 years, is among nine civic, business and real estate leaders appointed by Mayor Kevin Faulconer to an independent advisory group tasked with trying to solve the contentious issue of building a new stadium to keep the Chargers in San Diego.
This is likely the city's last chance to keep the Chargers, who could move to Los Angeles if a new stadium is built there.
Faulconer said Friday that he wants the advisory group to recommend whether to put a new stadium downtown near Petco Park, home of the Padres, or at the current site of aging Qualcomm Stadium in Mission Valley, and to develop a financing plan that can be approved by voters.
Faulconer will review the recommendations, which he wants by the fall, and finalize a plan to put on the November 2016 ballot.
The Chargers have pushed for a new stadium since 2002, just five years after Qualcomm was expanded.
Steeg, who has lived in San Diego for 10 years and helped put on the three Super Bowls played here, believes the group can devise a plan the voters will pass.
"We're past the point of debating whys and wherefores. Now it's, let's come up with a plan, present a plan to get it done," said Steeg, who worked for the Chargers from 2004-2010.
"To me, one of the things that's kind of been missing in the community is political will, and the mayor has it," Steeg said.
Steeg is considered by many as the person most responsible for developing the Super Bowl into the spectacle it is today. He also helped the NHL stage outdoor games at Dodger Stadium and Chicago's Soldier Field, and was a consultant for the first Pac-12 Conference football championship game.
Faulconer was elected not quite a year ago to finish the term of Bob Filner, who resigned after less than nine months on the job amid a torrent of sexual harassment allegations.
Faulconer told the advisory group he wants "a good and fair deal for San Diego taxpayers."
During his pre-Super Bowl news conference in Phoenix, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said building a new stadium for the Chargers "is a shared responsibility" and "something that we need to see tangible results sooner rather than later."
The Chargers' push for a new stadium has coincided with various political and financial upheavals at City Hall. Qualcomm Stadium has fallen into disrepair and lacks the modern amenities the team says it needs to compete financially with other teams.
"The problem hasn't been tackled. That's just clear," Faulconer said. "Sometimes it's easy to put off things, right? At the same time, we can't. I believe it's imperative that we get this group together now and we have a real plan this year.
"Let's be honest: At no point in San Diego's history has the possibility of the Chargers moving to L.A. been more real," the mayor said. "It's time for us as a community to come together to decide the future of the Chargers in San Diego. I know we can do that."
Although the Chargers have floated various proposals and scouted sites in neighboring cities, Faulconer said, "We're going to have a real, tangible plan for a new stadium for the first time. San Diegans are going to be able to see it, feel it, kick the tires and, in the end, voters will have the final say."
Adding to the urgency was the recent announcement that St. Louis Rams owner Stan Kroenke is part of a joint venture that wants to build an 80,000-seat stadium in the L.A. suburb of Inglewood.
The Chargers had a lukewarm response to Faulconer's announcement. Team spokesman Mark Fabiani said in a statement that the Chargers would be happy to share their previous proposals with the new group.
The Chargers' most recent proposal was to build a stadium downtown as part of a non-contiguous expansion of the convention center. A financing plan for a contiguous expansion favored by convention center officials and downtown hoteliers was recently struck down in court.
Following Faulconer's State of the City address two weeks ago, Fabiani criticized the mayor for calling for another task force.
Previous task forces were larger and more politically focused. This group is more business-oriented.
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