SAN DIEGO (AP) NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said Saturday at a rally that the Chargers belong in San Diego and a new stadium would be ''a perfect place for the Super Bowl.''
The rally was to kick off a signature drive to validate the citizens' initiative the Chargers want to place on the Nov. 8 ballot.
The initiative calls for an increase in the hotel tax to help pay for a $1.8 billion stadium and convention center annex just east of Petco Park, the downtown home of baseball's Padres.
''I said that and I mean it. I think the Chargers belong in San Diego,'' Goodell said after the rally. ''I think this is a great community, a great fan base. Everyone has acknowledged that we need a new stadium. The great thing I love about this proposal is it's more than a stadium. You're addressing not only the stadium, but you're addressing needs with the convention facility. And what we need as the NFL is to support this community and the effort. We don't make the decisions. This is for the community to make, and we certainly want to be part of that solution.''
The measure is expected to be opposed by the powerful tourism and convention industry.
The Chargers were rebuffed by NFL owners in their attempt to build a stadium in Carson with their archrivals, the Oakland Raiders. If the stadium measure in San Diego fails, the Chargers have the option of moving into a stadium the Los Angeles Rams will open in Inglewood in 2019.
The team must repair relations with the community due to its attempt to move to the Los Angeles area.
Mayor Kevin Faulconer wasn't at the rally. He has sent the Chargers a list of questions about the initiative. Faulconer had supported a plan for a new stadium at the site of aging Qualcomm Stadium in Mission Valley.
''The mayor is going to make his own decision on what he needs to do,'' Goodell said. '' As I said, the mayor asked me to get involved in the process a couple months ago. I have been. Our staff has been. I think it's very important to this community with the initiative that is being done here. While it still needs additional work and focus, it represents a solution for this community. And we all have to work together to get to that point.''
NFL owners have offered the Chargers an extra $100 million on top of a $200 million loan to try to make it work in San Diego.
''And I'm confident that if they can get a stadium built here, the owners will want to support it with a Super Bowl,'' Goodell said. ''I think that's what this community deserves, and we're all going to work to try and find a solution.''
Former star running back LaDainain Tomlinson spoke at the rally, as did Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers.
Online: http://pro32.ap.org/poll and http://twitter.com/AP-NFL