Stadium Finance

The Chargers Will Move To Los Angeles, Because Money

San Diego voters roundly rejected a proposal to spend $375 million dollars' worth of taxpayer dollars and the team has thus far refused to make up the difference and pay for its own venue

Stadium Finance
Farewell, Qualcomm — USA Today Sports
Jan 12, 2017 at 11:33 AM ET

ESPN’s Adam Schefter is reporting that the San Diego Chargers will be packing up and moving to Los Angeles, with an annoucement expected to arrive on Thursday, thus screwing over a dedicated fanbase and going against the rumored wishes of many NFL owners.

The Chargers had until Tuesday to decide, a deadline that was pushed back from Sunday partly because no one wants the news to land smack dab in the midst of the divisional round, and maybe, to give owner Dean Spanos one last chance to change his mind. We’re entering into the always-murky world of “sources” here, but according to the San Diego Tribune, other owners spent the last few days trying to convince him to do just that.

“No one is going to tell Dean he can’t go,” an unnamed source told the Tribune. “They’re going to tell him he shouldn’t go.”

The Chargers’ deal with the Stan Kroenke and the Los Angeles Rams to share his $2.66 billion-dollar Inglewood palace is set to expire, an agreement that was rubber-stamped by the NFL when they okayed the Rams’ trek to LA. If Spanos doesn’t pull the trigger now, he’s stuck in San Diego, leaving the rest of the league subject to Spanos’ whims and lacking any recourse other than stern suggestions, an exorbitant relocation fee beyond the $550 million they charged the Los Angeles Rams, or offering cash to help make a new stadium in San Diego a reality. The stadium proposal is dead, to be clear. San Diego voters roundly rejected a proposal in November to spend $375 million dollars’ worth of taxpayer dollars and the team has thus far refused to make up the difference and pay for its own venue. (And what owner in his or her right mind would do that.)

Schefter’s source also warned that Spanos could still back out. He hasn’t gone about calling public officials or submitting the required paperwork with the NFL. Further, as CBS Sports reported (again, via sources) Spanos isn’t in love with the deal Kroenke has proposed and NFL owners are deeply worried that Los Angeles can’t sustain one pro franchise, let alone two. Given the Rams’ struggles to draw fans or viewers during their first year in Los Angeles, it’s an open question whether a sustainable market exists for pro football at all, which is why all of these sources are yammering to reporters, trying to exert some form of public pressure. Still, if they are reading some form of counter-proposal, they’re doing it on the sly.

Said owners have a vested interest in seeing the yet another multi-billion-dollar stadium complex become a reality, be it in San Diego or Las Vegas; not two teams sharing the same digs. But as Barry Petchesky rightly noted at Deadspin, even if Spanos is stuck paying rent to Kroenke for the foreseeable future and the Chargers spend the first two seasons playing at a rinky-dink, 30,000-seat soccer stadium, he is going to make serious bank. If that means giving fans who have supported the team for the last 56 years the finger, so be it.

The real money is not in attendance, or merchandise, or even in TV contracts—though there is plenty there. The real money is in obtaining a shiny new stadium, because of what that stadium does for the sale price of the team. The relocation may double the value of the Rams; Dean Spanos looked at that and said “me too.” From the second they buy an NFL franchise, owners are focused on one thing: selling it.

Spanos has set a  staff meeting to be held 8am Pacific Standard Time. We will update this post accordingly.

UPDATE: The Chargers are moving to Los Angeles.

And here’s Commissioner Goodell providing all kinds of cover for Spanos and pretty much blaming San Diegans.