SAN DIEGO, CA (CBS/AP) – The Chargers appear ready to leave San Diego, their home of 56 seasons, for the potentially more lucrative but crowded Los Angeles market.
Hours after the Chargers were granted a two-day extension to exercise their option to relocate to Los Angeles, ESPN.com reported Wednesday night that the team plans to move. Then the NFL’s website carried the same news.
The Chargers have called a meeting for 8 a.m. PST Thursday “to tell his staff the news they have all been bracing for: The team plans to move to Los Angeles,” reports NFL.com NFL Media Insider Ian Rapoport.
Citing league sources, ESPN.com said the Chargers plan to announce as early as Thursday that they are moving to Los Angeles. According to the report, the Chargers have notified NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, and the owners of other teams, of their intent to move to L.A. for the 2017 season.
Former quarterback and Chargers great Dan Fouts said of the move, “At first, I hoped it was fake news. It’s something that is unfathomable, but it is reality.”
ESPN.com added that nothing was final.
Rappaport writes, “There is a caveat — and it’s a big one: Spanos has done nothing official. He hasn’t filed a formal relocation letter, hasn’t informed city officials in either San Diego or Los Angeles and hasn’t told his staff yet.”
However, relations have been strained for years between the Chargers, who’ve sought a big public subsidy to replace aging Qualcomm Stadium, and City Hall, which has been beset by scandals and various economic crises.
According to ESPN.com’s Adam Schefter, “This is said to have been an extremely difficult decision for Spanos to reach, sources said. While the economics of the decision have been clear, Spanos’ loyalty and connection to San Diego have countered it. But in the end, Spanos’ efforts to find a new stadium are now in their 16th year, with no resolution in sight.”
Fans were already up in arms over the possible move, San Diego Union-Tribune Chargers beat writer Michael Gehlken tweeted:
If the Chargers announce Thursday that they’re leaving, it will surely put a damper on Mayor Kevin Faulconer’s state of the city address.
Faulconer formed a task force in 2015 to try to find a stadium solution, but the Chargers didn’t like its recommendation and walked away from negotiations with the city and county. Faulconer recently met with Spanos and helped cobble together a $375 million package from the city, county and San Diego State, which also plays football at Qualcomm Stadium.
If the Chargers leave, it would come less than three months after voters resoundingly rejected a team-sponsored measure asking for $1.15 billion in increased hotel occupancy taxes to help fund a $1.8 billion downtown stadium and convention center.
They would leave behind a loyal fan base that cheered for Dan Fouts, Charlie Joiner and Kellen Winslow during the Air Coryell years in the 1970s and early 1980s, and for Junior Seau, Stan Humphries and Natrone Means on the Chargers’ only Super Bowl team in 1994.
San Diego would become a tenant in the stadium being built in Inglewood for the Rams if the Chargers exercise that option. If not, the Oakland Raiders would have the option to join the Rams in the L.A. area, though Raiders owner Mark Davis has indicated his intention to seek a move to Las Vegas.
The Chargers would have to find a temporary home in L.A., either the Coliseum or the 27,000-seat StubHub! Center in Carson.
San Diego was given the option to move to L.A. after owners rejected a proposed shared stadium for the Chargers and Raiders in Carson, and accepted the Rams’ plans for Inglewood. The owners gave the Chargers and Raiders each an additional $100 million to try to make stadium deals in their home markets.
The NFL’s stadium and finance committees met Wednesday for about 3-1/2 hours to discuss relocation of the Chargers and Raiders. The fact-finding meetings mostly centered on the Raiders’ plan for a potential move to Nevada. No filings for relocation were made; Oakland has until Feb. 15.
“There was little to no discussion on the topic of the Chargers,” league executive Eric Grubman said.
And no decisions were planned nor made at the meeting, in which all members of the two committees took part, some by teleconference. Those owners are finance chairman Bob McNair of Houston, along with Atlanta’s Arthur Blank, Tampa Bay’s Joel Glazer, Kansas City’s Clark Hunt, Indianapolis’ Jim Irsay, Jacksonville’s Shahid Khan, New England’s Robert Kraft, Philadelphia’s Jeffrey Lurie and Miami’s Steve Ross.
Participating from the stadium committee were chairman Art Rooney of Pittsburgh, Arizona’s Michael Bidwill, the Jets’ Woody Johnson, Dallas’ Stephen Jones, Chicago’s George H. McCaskey and San Francisco’s Jed York.
The owners did talk about possible relocation fees, though Rooney said no specific numbers were discussed. PJT Partners, which analyzed what the relocation fee for the Rams’ move from St. Louis last year should be, has been hired by the league to do the same job again. The Rams paid $550 million to move to L.A.
Much of the meeting was taken up with the Raiders presenting financial updates. Rooney and Grubman said there was no discussion of Las Vegas casino owner Sheldon Adelson’s potential role in the Raiders’ relocation. Rooney noted NFL rules and policies that would prohibit a casino owner from having ownership of a franchise.
“It would have to be in compliance with our rules,” Rooney said. “The Raiders are looking at the potential of doing without Mr. Adelson if it comes down to that.”