“San Diego Chargers Press Release”

January 13, 2016
San Diego Chargers
4020 Murphy Canyon Road
San Diego, CA 92123
Contact: (Chargers Park) (858) 874-4500

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

FIRST — NEWS ANNOUNCEMENT: SAN DIEGO CHARGERS TO ENTER IMMEDIATE NEGOTIATIONS WITH CITY OF SAN DIEGO TOWARD NEW STADIUM IN SAN DIEGO

SECOND — “CARSON PROJECT” A COMPLETE SUCCESS

SAN DIEGO – Chargers Chairman of the Board Dean A. Spanos has announced he and the Team will enter into immediate negotiations with the City of San Diego and County of San Diego toward a new Stadium resolution in San Diego.

In addition, Spanos announced the completion of the recent “Carson Project” as a complete and total success. The NFL Ownership vote on Jan. 12, 2016, Spanos continued, was the culmination of years of efforts by Spanos and the Chargers Team leadership.

“I’m extremely excited about the result of yesterday’s vote,” Spanos said. “Today is a historic day for the San Diego Chargers Franchise. A day that I believe fans can be proud of and, in fact, one that they will remember for the rest of their lives. … Now we begin the exciting process of building our long-awaited Stadium here in San Diego. But for real this time.”

Spanos intends to enter into negotiations with City and County leaders immediately.

“I have already been in touch with San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer and San Diego County Supervisor Ron Roberts,” Spanos said. “While, each was surprised with the tenor of today’s announcement, each sounded pleased at the work we will commence, beginning today. … I believe Myself, our Team leadership, as well as Mayor Faulconer and Supervisor Roberts, and their Staff, wish to come together to build San Diego the first-class Sports and Entertainment Complex the fans deserve. And, most importantly, to do so in a way that is fair to all parties.”

Tuesday’s NFL vote was the culmination of the “Carson Project,” a 14-year effort by San Diego Chargers leadership to further unsettle the future of the Oakland Raiders. An effort Spanos deemed a huge success.

“Look, it’s just business, right?” Spanos said. “They’ve been our biggest rival in all of our years in the NFL. They laughed at us after the ‘Holy Roller,’ but who’s laughing now? … I can’t control much that happens on the field, but this I could control. And, it worked perfectly.”

Spanos recruited and hired Chargers Special Counsel Mark Fabiani to head up the “Carson Project,” essentially a “long con” designed to bring the Chargers into a Stadium partnership with the Raiders, but ultimately fall just short. The conclusion of Tuesday’s NFL Ownership vote now leaves the Raiders as the third team in the State of California. Additionally, Spanos pointed out, the Raiders do not have a lease for the upcoming season.

“I’d like to congratulate Mark on the fine he work he did on the Carson Project,” Spanos said. “I knew after what he did with Lance Armstrong, he was the perfect person for this project.”

Spanos said he doesn’t plan to release any of the internal documents associated with the “Carson Plan,” but wished to assure fans and any “skeptics” that this was indeed the intended result of the 14-year “Carson Project” – which included gamesmanship with the City, NFL and, of course, the Raiders.

“Give us some credit. We know what we’re doing here,” Spanos said. “It got a little dicey at times. Mark took some bullets for the Team. I had to withstand some insults and shots to my intellect, questions of my capacity for the job, even jokes about my looks. But it was all worth it. … I mean, did you see the look on Mark Davis’ face? Oh, it was worth it. He was so mad.”

Spanos even consulted with David Fincher, director of the 1997 film, “The Game,” starring Michael Douglas and Sean Penn.

“We kept thinking Mark Davis and the Raiders were on to us. We had to bring in Carmen Policy, Bob Iger. But, seriously, who’s going to build a Stadium on a toxic waste dump?” Spanos questioned. “It was just hubris on their part, I guess.”

Spanos also responded to those who would question the ethics of the “Carson Project.”

“The NFL is a competitive League. Our fans have made their feelings known about the Raiders through the years; we’ve just continued in that vein. I think it’s obvious, if it wasn’t before, we don’t like the Raiders,” Spanos said. “Was it mean-spirited? Maybe.”

To those who think the Raiders will be better off as a tenant in Inglewood, Calif., under Rams Owner Stan Kroenke, Spanos responded: “You saw what Kroenke did to St. Louis, right? Would you want to be tenant under that guy? I wouldn’t rent a U-Haul from him. Haha.”

Dean Spanos: The Man Who Saved Football in San Diego

When an NFL team owner dies in America, what often follows is eye-roll-inducing, disingenuous hagiographies, obituaries that straddle the border of credulity. After all, it’s just a rich guy who owned a football team. Well, this is not one of those. (REPEAT: This is not one of those). This is about Dean Spanos. This is about his legacy.

For one, he’s still alive. And two, it might be appear to be a stretch to say he’s The Man Who Saved Football in San Diego. After all, there’s still SDSU, USD and high school ball here. But, it’s not a stretch.

See this is a man who thinks outside himself. It can be said, without hyperbole, that most NFL owners see only dollar signs. When Dean Spanos set out to build – BUILD – a new football stadium in San Diego, he spared no element.

A first point: Dean Spanos wanted it to be all about San Diego. In fact, he wanted Spanos Stadium to be a celebration of football in America’s Finest City. That meant a revolutionary, all-natural surface that could accommodate year-round events – including early- and late-season high school matchups (those Friday night, Spanos Football festivals that we all now love), as well as San Diego State, college bowl games and, of course, the Chargers. It has also become a semi-regular home for World Cup and Liga MX games (the partnership with the Xolos is nearly unprecedented in its cross-border marketing), and numerous other entertainment options. (Also: Let it be noted that he never wanted his name on the stadium).

To the second point: when local politicians didn’t (or seemingly couldn’t) work with him, he worked out an agreement to have the city cede the land to the Chargers. And, he built it HIMSELF. When nearly any other NFL owner would have threatened to move (especially to the hated Los Angeles market), employed bulldog P.R. tactics or gone silent (hello, Stan Kroenke), Dean Spanos didn’t do that. He brokered a bigger G-4 loan from the NFL, leveraging the goodwill of the Chargers fans he’d recently earned in a creative fashion to squeeze money from the NFL coffers (no easy feat, that).

It should be noted, importantly, that Dean Spanos even broke from NFL ownership convention and, after some scholarship on the issue, refused to take city or county tax dollars, even when a small percentage was offered. Was it morals, an eye on his legacy, or simply wanting to be on the right side of history? We’ll never know. He will always be applauded for it, however (in the face of many, even locally, who decried him as naïve). But, Spanos, like an old-school salesman, rolled up his sleeves, selling sponsorships to local investment groups and businesses in a city where many told him it couldn’t be done (unlike San Francisco, where the Giants privately financed AT&T Park thanks in part to nearby Silicon Valley). He had a vision and refused to deviate from it in the face of adversity. Tell Dean Spanos something can’t be done, he digs in his heels.

Regarding the third point: Dean Spanos listened to the fans. It sounds crazy, doesn’t it? But he did. Held forums. Took polls. Mailed out thousands of questionnaires. And the groundswell of goodwill turned out to be priceless. (Especially when the city and state kicked in for new road and freeway construction, and politicians went to bat for the team on environmental reviews and permits). And since it was privately financed, the team was in control of the stadium construction, which is now a year-round entertainment hub – complete with restaurants, bars, retail options and, of course, the Bolt Hotel (a hit among tourists and locals, alike). There’s even some open space left for park areas that are popular for tailgating in the fall and has become the unofficial fan get-together spot in the offseason (including the twice-annual Bolt Bash).

Ending up, meaning, Dean Spanos took the high road. He did the right thing. Faced with adversity, he stayed true to the town which nurtured his father’s high-profile business and where his children have grown up. He truly believed this business of football was greater than one owner, or even one league. Oh, he’ll still make his dollars, after all, he let slip a glimpse into his motives in one of his speeches during the groundbreaking: “It’s not just about money, although that’s important. It’s about community. Our community. This community. About coming together, as an ownership group, front office, players and fans. And the memories we can create, here together. Together we own this team; I am merely its steward.”

That’s the legacy of Dean Spanos, where, here in San Diego, he is a beloved man.