NFL Wire News

League hears from Chargers fans at town hall meeting


The Sports Xchange

SAN DIEGO — Frustrated San Diego Chargers fans had their chance to speak Wednesday night at an NFL town hall meeting.

An estimated 350 people attended the NFL-sponsored event at the Spreckles Theater in downtown San Diego.

Three teams — the Chargers, St. Louis Rams and Oakland Raiders — are considering a potential move to Los Angeles. The NFL, according to its relocation policy, wanted to hear directly from fans in the three cities affected by possibly losing their teams.

The NFL was in St. Louis on Tuesday and will be in Oakland on Thursday.

The Chargers and Raiders are planning to build a joint-use stadium in Carson, a Los Angeles suburb.

The Rams have their sights set on Los Angeles, too. Team owner Stan Kroenke is backing a stadium in Inglewood at the old Hollywood Park site.

Chargers fans showed up in dated and new jerseys, honoring everyone from Lance Alworth to Philip Rivers. They chanted “No way L.A.,” sang the team’s fight song and waved “Save Our Bolts” signs.

Chargers lead counsel Mark Fabiani was booed and heckled by the crowd. He pointed to San Diego politicians as the reason the Chargers are considering a move.

“We’ve done everything we can the last 14 years to find a stadium solution, Fabiani said.

There were podiums are both sides of the stage, with NFL executives listening intently but offering few answers.

Representing the NFL was executive vice president Eric Grumman, vice president for corporate development Chris Hardart, senior vice president of league policy Cynthia Hogan and league attorney Jay Bauman.

The Chargers, Rams and Raiders are all expected to file for relocation at the end of the season. The NFL could decide early next year what its plans are for Los Angeles.

“Of the three cities, San Diego has been the most supportive with ticket sales,” said Brian Gushue, a Chargers season ticket-holder since 1999. “If we lost the Chargers, it would be losing a civic institution that has been here for more than 50 years.”

San Diego has two potential sites for a new stadium, but neither has the concrete financing the team and the league seek.

Mayor Kevin Faulconer’s citizens task force recommended a new venue at the current Mission Valley location where Qualcomm Stadium, which was built in 1967, stands. The Chargers have shown no support for that proposal.

Some civic leaders are proposing a citizen initiative to fund a downtown stadium with a convention center. While the area near Petco Park is the Chargers’ preferred location, the time frame to built it would be significantly longer than Mission Valley. Plus, the project’s financing is unclear.

Rivers said he’s often approached by fans asking what’s going to happen.

“There is nothing we can really do about it,” said Rivers, who with the Chargers will try to break a three-game losing streak against the Baltimore Ravens on Sunday. “What I can control, I’m having a hard enough time getting that done. We’re trying to find a way to win to a football game.

“But you certainly can appreciate all the support. Our (family’s) time spent here in this community is special, over 10 years, so you know what the team means to the town.”

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