Though some San Diego officials are hoping for the NFL‘s return, commissioner Roger Goodell says that action must be taken on the city’s stadium problems.
In January, the San Diego Chargers confirmed that the 2016 season was their last in San Diego, announcing a move to Los Angeles that will take effect for the 2017 slate. This announcement came months after the Chargers, who spent years seeking a replacement for Qualcomm Stadium, saw their proposal for a $1.8 billion stadium/convention center in downtown San Diego rejected by voters in an Election Day referendum.
San Diego was seemingly left without an immediate possibility for attracting a franchise, but with the Oakland Raiders dealing with funding issues for their proposed stadium in Las Vegas, mayor Kevin Faulconer reportedly sought to enter his city into the conversation.
The San Diego Union-Tribune reported on Tuesday that Faulconer reached out to an NFL official to let it be known that San Diego could be interested in pursuing the Raiders if the team’s plan to move to Las Vegas falls through. When addressing the issue on Wednesday, however, Goodell said that the city needs to offer a longterm stadium solution for there to be any hope of the league’s return. More from the Times of San Diego:
“I think for any team to relocate to San Diego at this point in time, we’re going to have to find a solution to that stadium problem,” Goodell said.
He noted that Chargers Chairman Dean Spanos spent 15 years trying to get a new stadium built in San Diego before deciding to move after 56 years in town.
“That doesn’t mean it can’t happen in the future and, in fact, there’s a history of markets that get these projects done once a team leaves,” Goodell said. “That’s unfortunate, I think it’s a painful way to do it, but this is something we obviously would work toward, but we’re moving forward at this time.”
There will be some sentiment in the future for seeing the NFL return to San Diego, but the city has to figure out both a road map for a new facility plan and decide the fate of Qualcomm Stadium, which officials have indicated could be demolished after the 2018 NCAA football season. The city is also making a run at a MLS expansion franchise, which includes a pitch from investors to construct a new $200 million soccer/college football stadium.
That stadium would be part of a larger mixed-use development at the current site of Qualcomm Stadium. Under the proposal from the MLS investors, the development would set aside land for a five-year period to construct a new NFL stadium. If all of those pieces fall into place, San Diego would have to find a willing owner and figure out how to fund a facility.