NFL’s Goodell, Sanders talk about stadium efforts


By James R. Riffel

City News Service

Mayor Jerry Sanders and National Football League Commissioner Roger Goodell met Thursday on the Chargers search for a new stadium.

Both said the meeting went well, but they refused to touch on specifics.

The mayor had a very productive meeting with Mr. Goodell,’’ Sanders spokesman Darren Pudgil said.Everyone is committed to keeping the Chargers in San Diego and are working together to create a proposal that works for all — most importantly, the people of San Diego.’’

Mark Fabiani, the Chargers point man on stadium issues, said the team has been in regular contact with the commissioner — including a meeting this week while he was in San Diego.

“Commissioner Goodell told (team President) Dean Spanos that he had a good conversation with the mayor and that everyone is committed to the goal of finding the right stadium solution for the Chargers in San Diego,” Fabiani said.

The Chargers, who have been trying to find a new home for more than a decade, have run into a sticking point with the city over the expansion of the Convention Center, which is about six blocks away from the proposed downtown site of a new football stadium.

Sanders wants to raise funds for the project by taxing hoteliers who stand to benefit from having larger trade shows in town. The Chargers, on the other hand, say a new stadium can provide the needed convention space.

Convention Center officials side with the city, saying prospective conventioneers want meeting space all in one location. However, the hotel tax proposal is drawing some opposition.

The city’s financing plan faces obstacles that have nothing to do with the Chargers, Fabiani said.

These include the potential illegality of the funding mechanism, opposition from hoteliers from outside the immediate downtown area, likely opposition from the (California) Coastal Commission and likely opposition from organized labor,’’ Fabiani said.So, if the existing expansion project falls of its own weight, we want to be prepared with our alternative, which we think has great merit and which has worked extremely well in other cities.”

Fabiani said the Chargers hope to use $150 million from the NFL’s reconstituted stadium building fund to pay for the roughly $800 million project, but plans need to move forward quickly because there will be competition from other teams for that money.

Goodell was in town with other NFL luminaries for the San Diego chapter of the Huntington’s Disease Society of America’s annual Celebration of Hope’’ gala.