Mayor rep backs San Diego plan ahead of Wednesday’s NFL meetings

SAN DIEGO (KUSI) – A consultant representing the city and county of San Diego said in a letter to the National Football League made public Tuesday that a prospective stadium ballot measure would likely pass because of Mayor Kevin Faulconer’s popularity.

The letter, dated one week ago, was written by Chris Melvin of New York- based Nixon Peabody, one of the city/county consultants on the stadium issue. It came in response to a critique of a proposed term sheet on a Mission Valley stadium project offered by the city.

Melvin has been a main go-between local officials and the NFL, which is considering the possibility of a franchise moving to Los Angeles — a lucrative market without a team for around 20 years.

Owners of the Chargers, Oakland Raiders and St. Louis Rams have offered to fill that void, while officials in San Diego and St. Louis have been trying to keep their teams from leaving.

The NFL listed several issues it had with the term sheet proposed two months ago by San Diego, including the uncertainty of whether a stadium project would win in a public vote.

"While we recognize, as you note, the inherent uncertainty of a ballot measure vote, we note that the proposed measure does not include new taxes and therefore requires only a 50 percent plus one vote,” Melvin wrote in the response letter.

"Given the mayor’s strong approval rating, we believe that a ballot measure that is publicly supported by the mayor, county, regional leaders and the Chargers is very likely to pass.”

Among other matters raised by the NFL, Melvin wrote that any litigation involving an environmental study of a proposed stadium site near existing Qualcomm Stadium would be resolved by the end of next year, that the city and county have strong credit ratings, and that any impact of a separate initiative that could shift a stadium project to downtown would be mitigated if the Chargers were in opposition to it.

Chargers special counsel Mark Fabiani told City News Service in an email that he and team officials “were surprised that taxpayer money was used to write a letter that urged a private party to oppose a citizens initiative. That seems extremely inappropriate.”

The NFL also expressed concerns about a lack of financial details in the term sheet. Melvin wrote that the intention was to negotiate the specifics, but he did provide a framework regarding rent, ticket surcharges and parking fees.

The response letter was released the day before NFL team owners are set to meet in Dallas. While a variety of issues are on the agenda, the Los Angeles relocation effort is expected to be a hot topic.

Decisions on which teams will, or won’t, move aren’t expected to be made, but various reports said the owners could schedule a special meeting in Houston next month, in which action could be taken.

The owners could also opt to shift their window for teams to apply for relocation — currently Jan. 1-Feb. 15 — to March or even May, which would make it difficult for a team to set up shop in a new city in time for the 2016 season.

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