Mark Fabiani booed by agitated Chargers fans at public hearing

ByEric Williams ESPN logo
Monday, November 2, 2015

SAN DIEGO -- Adorned in blue and gold, fans of the San Diego Chargers made an impassioned plea to the NFL to keep their team in San Diego, where they have resided for more than 50 years.

About 450 fans filled the lower bowl of the Spreckels Theater in downtown San Diego on Wednesday to voice their concerns over the team moving to Los Angeles.

NFL executive Eric Grubman, the point person on the relocation issue for the league, led a contingent of four league representatives on stage that listened to questions and concerns from fans for three hours.

The meeting was the second of three to take place in home markets of teams that plan to apply for relocation in January, including the St. Louis Rams, Oakland Raiders and Chargers. The meetings are requirements as part of the NFL relocation guidelines.

"We want success in each one of those markets," Grubman told the crowd. "We want the team to be there, and to be healthy for the next 30 years."

Grubman was in St. Louis on Tuesday in front of 800 fans of the Rams. And the contingent traveled to Oakland on Wednesday evening for the final leg of the public forum for Raiders fans on Thursday.

Mark Fabiani, a lawyer who is leading the Chargers' efforts to move to Los Angeles, addressed the audience beforehand and was loudly booed. Fabiani said the team had worked 14 years to get a suitable stadium proposal in San Diego but with no success.

The team is partnering with the Raiders on a $1.7 billion proposal to build a stadium in Carson, California.

"We've heard it all," Fabiani said. "We've seen it all. We've answered the tough questions over the years. We still try and go out and speak as much as we can in the community.

"But this is a great chance to hear what people think. And it's a great chance for you to tell them directly what you think. That doesn't mean that you're going to reach agreement tonight. I'm sure we'll have a lot of people that disagree with what we've said up until now. But at least we have a chance to interact directly with the people."

San Diego city councilman Scott Sherman was one of those people. Sherman's district includes Mission Valley, where Mayor Kevin Faulconer proposes to build a $1.1 billion NFL stadium at the current site of Qualcomm Stadium.

Sherman told Grubman that Fabiani has served as an impediment to the team and the city making any progress on a stadium deal.

"His entire arguments from the very get-go is to convince you all that the city can't get its act together or a stadium deal done," Sherman said. "I'm here to tell you that it's the furthest thing from the truth."

Sherman received a standing ovation after his comments.

Fans asked Grubman for more time to get an actionable stadium plan completed in San Diego. They emphasized that San Diego is the gateway to Mexico, an emerging market for the NFL.

A season-ticket holder since 1967, Howard Kipnis said a new stadium in San Diego would create a perfect destination for the NFL to hosts Super Bowls on a regular basis; San Diego has hosted three Super Bowls in years past.

"Don't you want to show the world how beautiful our city is?" Kipnis said. "Because somewhere in the bowels of your offices on Park Avenue there are three years of reports that give stunning reviews of the NFL experience here in San Diego.

"And we can have that again if you will allow us."

Speakers also said if the team does move, they want the legacy of the Chargers' name and colors to stay in San Diego. And several fans vowed they will not travel north if the team moves.

"We already don't like L.A.," Scott Miller said. "Don't give us a reason to hate it more."

Several fans compared the Chargers' flirtations with Los Angeles to an unfaithful spouse seeking a new girlfriend.

Grubman said that teams will be allowed to apply for relocation when the window opens in January, but emphasized no decision has been made, and ultimately it will be up to the 32 owners to decide.

Fabiani told The Mighty 1090 AM radio show the Chargers would indeed file to relocate because "we can't afford to lose our market in Los Angeles and Orange County."

Fabiani confirmed that if the team is not allowed to move forward with plans to build a stadium in partnership with the Raiders in Carson, the Chargers would consider the citizens' initiative effort to build a stadium in downtown San Diego.

"We don't have any great hopes for working with this mayor or the city attorney," Fabiani said. "They haven't shown the ability to pull something like this off. I think what we'd probably look at is the citizens' initiative and try and go over the heads of the politicians and directly to the people. And try to make something happen that way."

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