Chargers Stadium: Strategy, Media Relations and Crisis Communications
Few issues have been more controversial in San Diego than the Chargers stadium drama. It was clear from the beginning that Mayor Kevin Faulconer and his Citizens’ Stadium Advisory Group (CSAG) would need a skilled crisis communicator to interact with reporters, sports talk show hosts, community leaders, fan groups and others.
Mark Fabiani, the Chargers chief antagonist, made the challenge more difficult with a steady stream of attacks and misinformation. His goal? Mislead NFL owners and discredit the Mayor, CSAG and others working on a stadium solution with the hopes of convincing NFL owners to green-light a Los Angeles stadium plan from the Chargers and Raiders instead of a competing plan from the Rams.
MNM Principal Tony Manolatos stepped in and guided CSAG’s communications and assisted the Mayor and his advisors. Manolatos helped the group of San Diego civic leaders communicate a clear and consistent message without getting tangled in the Chargers' negative and misleading narrative.
CSAG delivered a stadium plan in less than three months that was well received by just about everyone outside of the Chargers organization, which failed to persuade the NFL to support its joint stadium plan. NFL owners voted 30-2 to approve the Rams plan over the one the Chargers and Raiders proposed.
When the Chargers proposed their own stadium plan in 2016 – a one-sided deal that would have raised taxes in San Diego by more than $1 billion – business and community leaders, along with elected officials on both sides of the political aisle, retained Manolatos as their chief strategist and spokesman.
The “No Downtown Stadium, Jobs & Streets First! – NO on C" coalition helped defeat the Chargers tax measure and was recognized for its work by the San Diego County Taxpayers Association. The taxpayers watchdog group awarded the coalition with its prestigious Taxpayers Champion Award in 2017.