San Diego Leads Off NFL’s LA Team Sweepstakes

With the citizens of San Diego on high alert in observance of a sign, any sign, that their beloved Chargers will not leave them behind for Los Angeles, recent comments by the team’s owner and legal counsel have done nothing to assauge that concern.

LA Downtown Stadium map

(Batter up: Chargers step into November ballot box)

Beginning on February 1, the San Diego NFL team has an annually-granted, three-month window in which it may decide to exercise an early-termination clause in its Qualcomm Stadium lease. If the Chargers were to enact that right in 2012, which expires on April 1, the result would mean a $24 million payment to the city of San Diego - and an NFL team for Los Angeles.

Matthew T. Hall of UTSanDiego.com reported this week that Chargers owner Dean Spanos announced at a press conference Tuesday that while Chargers GM A.J. Smith and head coach Norv Turner will stay with the team, he refused to confirm the same, immediate fate for the city of San Diego.

At a news conference, he did not even commit to the Chargers staying next season. “All I am telling you is we want to be in San Diego,” Spanos said. “I remain consistent with that.”

Chargers special counsel Mark Fabiani has also been fronting the team’s public position on a possible move to Los Angeles. On Tuesday, Fabiani told Hall via email that there was, “nothing new on the (lease termination) trigger today.

While those comments may seem ominous as it pertains to the Chargers staying in San Diego, the club is currently in the throes of a negotiation with the city for a downtown stadium. San Diego Mayor Jerry Sanders reportedly hopes to release substantive details of such a deal in March, with the hope that such a proposal would be voted on by the local citizenry in November.

Last year the Chargers confirmed in early December they had no plans to get out of their Qualcomm lease but this year such an announcement - at least in relation to the annual lease termination window - has not been made. Though concern over such a delay is mitigated considering such an early assurance by the team would reduce the Chargers’ leverage in its current negotiation with the city for a new stadium.

Perhaps in deference to San Diego’s hope that a stadium deal for the Chargers could be voted on by the public in late 2012, last month NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said not to expect news of a move to Los Angeles anytime soon:

“We want (football) to return in a successful way, and that requires a stadium. I don’t think we’ll be in a position to make that decision by 2012, but we’ll continue to work with the different alternatives in Los Angeles and hope that we get a solution that will work.”

While Goodell continues to reference “different alternatives” in Los Angeles, all that remains for L.A. to be NFL-ready is an Environmental Impact Report (EIR) required of downtown Los Angeles NFL stadium proponent AEG.

While AEG’s EIR will be released in 2012, the comments period after the report hits the public in February won’t conclude until after the lease termination window for the Chargers has expired for this year.

The EIR, which is significant but not likely to hinder AEG’s downtown stadium from going forward, is likely the final sign Goodell and the NFL need to confirm that Los Angeles has a stadium “solution that will work” for the league.

Considering that San Diego Mayor Jerry Sanders does not want to be known as the man who allowed the Chargers to move on his watch, expect him and other local officials to do everything they can to put a new Chargers stadium plan to a public vote before 2012 is over.

While such a vote will likely be the final word on the Chargers in San Diego, Sports by Brooks has been told by multiple sources familiar with the situation that it will not ultimately dictate LA’s NFL fate.

The Chargers would indeed be a turnkey solution for AEG in securing an NFL team for Los Angeles, but if the people of San Diego keep their team via the ballot box, Jacksonville, St. Louis and Oakland will officially be on the clock.

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AEG: ‘Our Last Billion For LA .. Take It Or Leave it’

If Los Angeles is going to get a stadium that can house an NFL team, it needs three things:

LA Downtown Stadium map

1) The unmitigated financial backing of billionaire Phil Anschutz
2) State political support
3) The Chargers

At the moment, the financial support of AEG founder Anschutz for an L.A. Stadium is not yet a certainty, though AEG CEO Tim Leiweke has told two prominent California state politicians behind closed doors that his boss will fork over as much as $1 billion if they help facilitate AEG’s stadium deal for the city.

In a meeting with Speaker of the California Assembly John Perez, whose district happens to include where the proposed downtown stadium would be built, AEG Chief Leiweke told Perez three things: Read more…

Bolts Owner Selling Stake As San Diego Scrambles

Today esteemed sports business reporter Jon Weinbach of AOL FANHOUSE has plenty of new, specific information about a proposed downtown Los Angeles stadium that could host an NFL team. Or two.

Los Angeles NFL Stadium Map

(Where the downtown L.A. Stadium would be located)

As I’ve chronicled here since April, Anschutz Entertainment Group CEO Tim Leiweke and local sports biz mogul Casey Wasserman have indicated publicly that they are interesting in building such a facility.

I suggest you read Weinbach’s entire piece but I did snip some things that caught my eye that have not been previously reported.

  • Weinbach: Recently sent architects a “request for proposal” to design the venue, which would be built on a parcel that includes a large section of the city’s existing convention center. AEG’s plan, which calls for opening the stadium by the summer of 2015, would raze the west end of the convention center and replace it with a 72,00-seat stadium featuring a retractable dome and 218 luxury suites.
  • Weinbach: David Israel, Peter Ueberroth’s chief of staff for the 1984 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles and a member of the Coliseum Commission, which oversees the historic L.A. Coliseum, USC football’s home, has seen multiple stadium efforts rise and fall in L.A. over the last 15 years, but believes AEG’s proposal has legitimate promise. “This is the closest L.A. has been since the Raiders and Rams left,” said Israel.
  • Weinbach: Alex Spanos, who became the club’s majority owner in 1984, is now 87 years old and reportedly in poor health. He and his wife now own 36 percent of the club, while each of his four children have 15 percent stakes, and they have hired Goldman Sachs to sell a minority share in the team.Representatives from Goldman have met recently with several wealthy individuals in L.A. about the Chargers’ stake, according to people familiar with the matter. (The team, founded by hotel mogul Conrad Hilton, actually came into existence as the Los Angeles Chargers and played its inaugural 1960 season at the L.A. Coliseum. Hilton moved the club to San Diego the following year.)
  • Weinbach: Mark Fabiani, who has been leading the Chargers’ efforts to develop a new stadium, told FanHouse that the Spanos family is looking to sell a stake in the team solely for “estate-planning purposes.”Greg Carey, a managing director at Goldman and its point man on stadium and sports deals, confirmed that the company is working with the Chargers but has not been retained by the NFL or AEG to find partners for a potential L.A. ownership group
  • Weinbach: Between February 1 and April 30 of every year from now through 2020, the Chargers can get out of their lease by writing a check to the city of San Diego – this year, the amount is about $26 million, and it decreases annually.
  • Of particular interest to me are the latter points regarding San Diego.

    Especially when combined with this story from Matthew T. Hall of the SAN DIEGO UNION-TRIBUNE this week:
    Read more…

    Chargers, Rams First To New, Empty LA Stadium?

    Eight months ago I suggested that AEG CEO Tim Leiweke and L.A.-based sports biz mogul Casey Wasserman had plans to build a downtown L.A. football stadium without the benefit of a pre-commitment from an NFL team to move into the facility.

    Los Angeles NFL Stadium Map

    (Where the L.A. NFL Stadium would be located)

    Excerpt:

    So what has to happen for the project to get done? While some may think that an NFL team pre-committing to such a venue would be critical to the process, I’m not so sure.

    … I don’t think its an impossibility that a domed stadium in downtown L.A. could get done without an NFL team initially. And when it comes to the Chargers, you can bet that if an L.A. stadium is suddenly available, San Diego’s hand on a new stadium will be forced. 

    Friday during a radio interview, Leiweke confirmed exactly that prospect. Read more…

    Unique LA Stadium Deal May Cost SD Its Chargers

    In the aftermath of the news of the first legitimate Los Angeles NFL stadium plan in eight years, I’ve freshened up my investigation into what team is most likely to move to L.A. if the project happens. With all signs pointing south.

    Los Angeles Chargers 2010

    (San Diego: Nothing Personal)

    There’s two critical things you need to know about the L.A. situation as it pertains to what current NFL team will end up here.

    1) The guys who are leading the charge for the L.A. facility, Tim Leiweke of AEG and Casey Wasserman, have every intention of getting the facility built with or without an existing commit from an NFL team. And unlike what outsiders might think, these guys absolutely have the capacity and staying power, thanks to local political clout and financial resources, to get that done.

    2) In talking to several San Diego-based media and political sources today, I’ve been told that the financial state of the city and county is in such disrepair that barring a miracle, there will be no new stadium for the Chargers.

    The “miracle” would involve a facility erected with zero public funds. If the Chargers were serious about making that happen, the process would’ve started long ago.

    It’s undisputed that the the main reason the NFL is not in Los Angeles is the old guard of NFL owners, who for so long have been accustomed to raping cities for new, free stadiums, has been unable to secure a similar, ridiculously lopsided deal in L.A.

    With this new, downtown Los Angeles stadium bid, that is not going to change.

    But what if the stadium gets built without the NFL’s involvement? That, my friends, is L.A.’s secret weapon in this case. Read more…

    NFLer Not Paying For 7 Kids With 6 Baby Mamas?

    Brent Schrotenboer of the SAN DIEGO UNION-TRIBUNE reports:

    Antonio Cromartie with daughter and baby mama

    (Couldn’t get Cro’ to clear these for positive ID)

    Chargers cornerback Antonio Cromartie is past due on about $25,000 in child support after missing his Feb. 1 payment due date for several of his children, an attorney for the mother of one of his children says.

    25-year-old Cromartie, 25, “has at least seven children with six different women in five states.”

    All of the kids, at least the ones we know about, are under the age of six. Cromartie has been named in at least five paternity suits the past three years.

    Read more…

    Pic: Wound Suffered In Alleged Cromartie Assault

    Here’s a photo TMZ claims is the head wound of the person who suffered the alleged bottle-throwing assault of San Diego Charger Antonio Cromartie:

    Head Wound Victim In Alleged Bottle Throwing Assault By Antonio Cromartie

    (Victim’s friends claims alleged attack came “out of the blue”. Really?)

    The victim claims to TMZ he blacked out after his friends witnessed Cromartie “smash a bottle of Moet” into his head.

    After the attack, the victim was taken to a local hospital, where he received three staples and underwent a CAT scan.

    Meanwhile, Cromartie Tweeted about the incident today.

    Antonio Cromarte CrimeTime31 Twitter Account

    If the assault accusation is not true, why is he apologizing?

    The friends of the victim claimed to TMZ today that Stephen Cooper and Shaun Phillips were present during the attack, which resulted after a large group of people began spraying champagne at the Pacific Beach bar.

    Now for the part that’s hard to believe:

    Read more…

    SD Outlet Mistakenly Reports Cromartie ‘Arrested’

    UPDATE: The La Jolla (CA) Light mistakenly reported Cromartie as being “arrested” and has since changed the headline of its story.

    UPDATE: The SAN DIEGO UNION-TRIBUNE reports that Stephen Cooper was also in the bar with Cromartie when the alleged assault took place.

    UPDATE: The man who covers the Chargers the closest, SAN DIEGO UNION-TRIBUNE beat writer Kevin Acee, reportsBefore everyone jumps on Cromartie, several sources telling me it wasn’t him who threw bottle. Just saying we need to let facts come out.

    Not disputing Acee’s sources, but Cromartie’s “it slipped” admission to police doesn’t exactly work in his favor.

    The LA JOLLA (CA) LIGHT headlines today that Antonio Cromartie has been arrested by San Diego police for his role in an altercation at a San Diego bar last night.

    Antonio Cromarte CrimeTime31 Twitter Account

    (Ironic Tweet from Cromartie’s official  “CrimeTime31” account last night)

    Cromartie allegedly threw a champagne bottle that hit another person in the head at Bar West, 959 Hornblend St., around 1:15 a.m., according to the San Diego Police Department.

    The Pro Bowl star said that it “slipped out of his hand,” said department spokesman Detective Gary Hassen. No injuries were serious enough to require hospital treatment, according to the detective, and no one was arrested.

    Hassen said a police report about the fight would be turned over to the City Attorney’s Office for review later Monday.

    The headline indicates that Cromartie has been arrested, but the copy states otherwise. That seems like an either/or, so a clarification should be forthcoming.

    Meanwhile, Cromartie’s agent Gary Wichard has also addressed his client’s possible involvement in the incident. And Wichard’s comments suggest that more Chargers were involved in the incident.

    Read more…

    Should Merriman Deny Pedophila, Drug Use Claim?

    Late last week, SoCal network television station San Diego 6 aired an on-camera interview with Tila “Tequila” Nguyen that included some beyond-explosive accusations about Shawne Merriman’s lifestyle that hasn’t gotten much coverage in the national media.

    Shawne Merriman Tila Tequila

    (San Diego Network TV Station gave Nguyen legit platform last week)

    Nguyen told San Diego 6 that Merriman’s brother Jaymanufactures” a special form of ecstasy in one of Shawne’s homes, which is designed to go undetected by NFL drug tests.

    Shawne Merriman Tila Tequila

    She also claimed Merriman was a “pedophile” who has sex with minors.

    Should Merriman deny pedophila, masked ecstasy drug use charges?

    View Results

    Read more…

    Charger Investigated: ‘Assault with deadly weapon’

    UPDATE: Earlier today, the SAN DIEGO UNION-TRIBUNE reported on a “bar fight” at a Pacific Beach establishment involving “at least one Chargers player” - but no names were mentioned. Could that mean more Chargers are involved? Stay tuned.

    Antonio Cromartie is being investigated for assault with a deadly weapon over a bruising incident in a San Diego bar last night.

    Antonio Cromartie

    (Travis Henry approves)

    TMZ reports Cromartie may have “threw a champagne bottle which hit a bystander in the head.

    The bystander suffered a gash on his head, but an ambulance was not called, indicating there wasn’t a serious injury. Read more…