This is a scary time for Chargers fans here in San Diego. We at Save Our Bolts are doing everything we can to keep the team here in San Diego where they built their history. As an activist with twenty years experience working on campaigns, I have run lots of grassroots efforts in my time. I have developed strategies that have worked and some that have failed, one of the most difficult things facing us at Save Our Bolts is our need to develop a clear strategy.
Since the Rams put pressure on Chargers by announcing the Inglewood project, this issue has become like a runaway freight train. Save Our Bolts is no different from the San Diego Stadium Coalition, Mayor Faulconer’s office or the CSAG (Citizen Stadium Advisory Group). We are all trying to grab a hold of this train, it is speeding so far and fast down the tracks it is hard to catch your breath. Something as simple as a rally becomes difficult to organize when the issue changes so fast – it is hard to form a reaction before the issue changes again. I have to remind our organizers over and over that we are volunteers and there is only so much we can do between our jobs, family duties and the like. Planning for a campaign in this rapidly changing environment is like target shooting with a constantly moving target.
This is difficult for everyone involved from the city, the fans, the media and the team. The team has not even left and I have heard the media starting the debate over blame. I want to talk about blame. Like many sports fans in San Diego I get ready for work every morning flipping between the three sports radio stations in town. On March 12th the hosts on AM 1360 Jeff Dotseth and Dave Palet were debating who is to blame if the Chargers leave? I don’t think we can blame the fans. When Bud Adams was threatening to move the Houston Oilers to Nashville, the fans held a rally that was attended by single digit number of supporters. That didn’t happen here. March 2nd YOU showed up in huge numbers for the fan forum. We will see how Spirit Day goes this upcoming week, but we can’t blame the fans. Dave Palet seemed to take the position that he would blame the CSAG if the Chargers were to move up to the dump in Carson. (The land is a former landfill it is not subjective statement to call it a dump, it is a fact) The argument is that the Chargers don’t want Mission Valley, so why the hell did the CSAG suggest something the Chargers are against?
There is no doubt the stadium situation is huge mess with lots of blame to go around. We need to put some things on the table and make sure that as a concerned citizen or devoted Chargers fan that you know before you blame anyone.
1. The CSAG are 100% unpaid volunteers, many turning down high paying opportunities to work on solving this problem.
2. You might think the city paid for the fan forum on March 2nd. However, we received word that the CSAG members paid for this event out of their own pockets. Unlike any taskforce or group working on the issue in 14 years the CSAG sought community opinions. That’s MAJOR (quoting Jahleel Addae here).
3. The CSAG’s job is to come up with the best solution for the city. They can’t just give the answers the Chargers want to hear. If they just give the Chargers a downtown site and it ends up taking too long, or blocked then that is also a failure. They need to try to solve the problem, in a way that works for the city as well as the team. Both sides will need to compromise.
4. The Chargers/ Raiders Carson stadium unholy union forced the CSAG to move quickly. Mission Valley is the logical choice at this time, even though personally I was in favor of downtown throughout the process. The CSAG were given this job to be done by fall. They already have the site determined by March 12th and are promising a financial plan by May. How can you blame a group that worked that fast? You could blame the Inglewood project and the Rams but the result is the same. If the CSAG had more time it is possible that they could have found more solutions to the Downtown problem. They however are working with the timeline forced by LA movement.
It is reasonable to defend the Chargers by saying that the city and politicians have failed to get anything done in 14 years. The critics of Mayor Kevin Falcouner often forget to mention that our current Mayor has been in office only one of those years. Sure he was on the City Council but I don’t feel it is fair to blame him.
1. Mayor Falcouner has shown great leadership. I could do a whole article on this subject. The Mayor has done many things to Save Our Bolts no mayor before him has done. He has shown an understanding of this community no Mayor in the last 14 years has shown. The Taskforce he put together was very strategically organized. With members that brought very important resources to the table. That is a sign of smart leadership. By inviting groups like the Chargers Legends(former players), Save Our Bolts, Bolt Pride and a fan favorite like Boltman to sit at the table with him in the mayor’s office he showed great vision. He understands that we are part of this struggle and play vital role.
2. The Mayor is more invested in this issue than anyone not named Spanos. No one wants to go down in history as the Mayor who lost the Chargers. No one has put more effort into this. This mayor has done more in the last month than the last four mayors combined. If he fails I have had time believing at the end of the day you could blame the Mayor.
3. This one is subjective. I can only say as a person who has sat at the Mayor’s table, looked him in the eye and talked with him about the issue that he is sincere. On the Friday after the Carson Announcement I was like many of you, I felt hopeless, as if everything we were doing with Save Our Bolts, if all my years of rooting for the Chargers would soon be for nothing. I spent the whole day at work upset. When I got home and checked my messages I had a voicemail from Kevin Faulconer. Not an aid, nothing canned. He said a few things but he started by saying “David, Don’t give up.”
Dean Spanos has shown incredible patience since the NFL told us no more San Diego Super Bowls until you get a new stadium. Dean and the team have been great for the community as a whole. It is well documented that the Q is a dump. The Chargers Special Council Mark Fabiani always points out that Dean could have left at any time. We always hear that LA is financially speaking more lucrative. It is open to debate weather the possibility of a move to LA was ever viable before Carson. Certainly LA has shown through several polls that they want the Rams and the Raiders and not the Chargers.
That said if the CSAG and the Mayor fail to present a workable plan the reality is the Chargers have every right to go. This is a first time Mayor, who may not be prepared for some of the moves the team has made. The team has 14 years of experience to be skeptical.
1. We bleed blue and gold. We are emotionally tied to this team. At the end of the day for the Spanos family this is business. This is capitalism and you can only blame them so much. It makes no sense for this team to make less money than thirty-one other teams in the league, and if they do they will never compete.
2. Mark Fabiani is not a bad guy, he has a job to do. He has been playing the bad guy role lately, because we reinforced the tactic with our behavior as a city. After years of the Chargers special counsel playing nice and being upbeat on the Stadium issue the team didn’t get anywhere. After a month of Fabiani being brutally honest and at times negative, we have seen more progress than we have in fourteen years.
In the end blame doesn’t matter. If the team stays all will be forgiven, it is too early to assert blame to any party. I wanted to bring all this up for simple reason – We have to remind all parties involved that we want the same thing. Blame doesn’t matter solutions do. If we are going to Save Our Bolts we need to have that focus and forget blame.
Save Our Bolts