Those wanting the San Diego Chargers ongoing drama to be ended this week will be disappointed: the National Football League is giving the team another year, at most, to get San Diegans to give the team a fat stadium subsidy
It was a surprise compromise worked out at a huddle of 32 National Football League (NFL) team owners — most of whom are billionaires — in Houston. The St. Louis Rams will move to the stadium that owner Stan Kroenke intends to build in Inglewood. The Chargers will have the option to join the Rams in L.A. as early as next season. If the Chargers, who will get a $100 million payment from the league, lose a vote, or opt not to file for one, they can join the Rams in L.A., either as tenants or as a team with a piece of the equity in the stadium.
If the Chargers turn down the opportunity within a year, the Oakland Raiders — the third team bidding for an L.A. slot -- will have an opportunity to join the Rams.
Dean Spanos, chairman of the Chargers, put out a statement: "My goal from the start of this process was to create the options necessary to safeguard the future of the Chargers franchise while respecting the will of my fellow NFL owners. Today we achieved this goal with the compromise reached by NFL ownership.
"The Chargers have been approved to relocate to Los Angeles, at the Inglewood location, at any time in the next year. In addition, the NFL has granted an additional $100 million in assistance in the event there is a potential solution that can be placed before voters in San Diego. I will be working over the next several weeks to explore the options that we have now created for ourselves to determine the best path forward for the Chargers."
It is a cold statement. Sports authorities have said that the Chargers could raise their asset value by $1 billion through a move to L.A. Also, the Chargers have insisted all along that they get 25 percent of their market from the Los Angeles metro market, and would take a big financial hit if a team or teams relocate there. Such a relocation is now a sure thing.
The $100 million sweetener is not persuasive. The stadium proposed by the mayor's task force will cost more than $1 billion. Some in politics want to put a downtown combined stadium/convention center expansion back on the table. But such a facility would be several blocks from the current center — something that convention planners say attendees do not like. What's more, combined stadium/convention facilities have not worked well in other cities.
A big roadblock is the team trying to renew good terms with San Diego. To convince the league that San Diego was not giving the Chargers a sufficient subsidy, the Chargers strategy was to insult the city. Now, if it wants to try for a subsidized stadium, it has to cozy up to the city it spurned.
The Chargers' strategy has been based on a falsehood. The team claims it has tried repeatedly to get a stadium in San Diego. It fiddle-faddled around with cockamamie proposals in Chula Vista, Escondido, Oceanside, and Mission Valley, but never presented a workable solution.
From the time the city and the team signed the contract in 1995, the Chargers have preferred to get to L.A. The contract gave it a direct route out of town, by permitting the team to look around for another home at intervals. Savvy San Diegans know that the Chargers always preferred to go to L.A., but wanted to keep San Diego in its pocket. The strategy failed.
The Chargers are likely to opt for L.A. before there is ever a vote in San Diego, according to more than one person who has followed this greed-driven drama.