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S.D. Officials Hope for Serious Talks to Keep the Chargers

SAN DIEGO (CN) - San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer extended the proverbial olive branch to defeated Chargers owner Dean Spanos on Wednesday in hopes the two can head back to the bargaining table "for a fresh start" and another stab at keeping the football team in San Diego.

Faulconer was flanked by San Diego City Attorney Jan Goldsmith and County Board of Supervisors Chairman Ron Roberts at a packed press conference the morning after the NFL owners met in Houston to decide the fate of three football teams vying for a new stadium in Los Angeles.

In an unexpected move, the owners voted 30 to 2 in favor of allowing the St. Louis Rams to move back to L.A. to build a flashy new stadium in Inglewood. The Inglewood proposal defeated the Chargers' joint venture with the Oakland Raiders on a stadium in Carson.

The Chargers barely got in on the L.A. deal, however, and were offered the opportunity to decide by January 15, 2017, whether to join the Rams at the Inglewood stadium, which will begin hosting NFL games in 2019.

Faulconer, Goldsmith and Roberts said they are looking forward to working with Spanos and the Chargers to come up with an option to keep the team in San Diego - whether it's the more developed plan in Mission Valley to replace decaying Qualcomm Stadium or a plan to put the Chargers downtown alongside Petco Park or as part of a convention center expansion.

"What we need and have needed is someone in a chair on the other side of the table willing to negotiate in good faith," Goldsmith said.

Faulconer said he has reached out to Spanos to meet sometime soon, but he hasn't heard from the Chargers owner following the owners' decision handed down Tuesday.

"We have approached this in the spirit of openness and cooperation," Faulconer said.

While city leaders fielded media questions on the possibility of developing a new stadium proposal for downtown San Diego, they cautioned a plan for downtown will take much longer to develop than the Mission Valley plan that is already ready to go.

"We never got to the real ingredients of the Mission Valley plan because of Carson," Faulconer said.

"We have a plan ready to go in Mission Valley. We don't own property downtown and it will take a lot more time and a lot more money."

There is still much work to be done for a downtown stadium proposal, including an environmental impact report.

Goldsmith reiterated the city is unwilling to go down the same wishy-washy negotiating path they experienced this year with the Chargers and would only explore options downtown if the team indicates they will stay in San Diego.

"Downtown is a little bit more challenging and we can't put our city in that position if we don't know if the Chargers are staying," Goldsmith said.

Faulconer said he believes the city can put into motion the convention center expansion and a plan for a new Chargers stadium in 2016, two major infrastructure projects the city has talked about tackling for years.

San Diego's mayor also said the city would be willing to entertain new ideas brought forward by the Chargers, but emphasized the proposal would still go to a vote.

Goldsmith said a lot of things would have to come together quickly for a June ballot measure on the Chargers to be feasible. More likely, Goldsmith said, the item could make it onto the November ballot.

"We're ready to go as soon as we can get a ballot measure in the works," Goldsmith said.

Faulconer emphasized how the city and Spanos could use "this fresh start" to come up with a solution to keep the Chargers in San Diego.

"I'm never surprised of anything that happens on this issue," Faulconer said.

"We have a fan base that has supported this organization for 50 years. It's part of the fabric of who we are."

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