NFL supposedly upset with Chargers' move

Spanos has "lost the backing of his fellow owners."

Dean Spanos
  • Dean Spanos

ESPN.com is reporting that "pretty much everyone in the [National Football League] hates the idea of the Chargers in L.A." The league office is said to be "beside itself" over the move and, says ESPN, "the NFL actually wants the Chargers to move back to San Diego, although the league doesn't actually think that's a realistic possibility."

In January of last year, the owners voted overwhelmingly for the deal that gave the Chargers the option to move to L.A. If ESPN's report is accurate, this would appear to be a case of the owners erring badly, then looking for a scapegoat after the arrangement begins falling apart.

And the Chargers' move is looking wobbly. It is already clear that Los Angeles fans do not want to see the Chargers in L.A. Moving-van companies in both San Diego and L.A. do not want to move the team. ESPN says Chargers chairman Dean Spanos has "lost the backing of his fellow owners." These are the same owners who voted almost unanimously in favor of the Chargers trying to get a stadium in San Diego, then, if unsuccessful, joining Stan Kroenke's Rams in a new stadium going up in Inglewood.

ESPN says, "NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell made it clear on several occasions that he wanted the Chargers to remain in San Diego." Yes, but Goodell was talking out of both sides of his mouth; if he had been so opposed to the move last year, he could have spoken more forcefully.

CBS Sports NFL reporter Jason La Canfora says several owners last year had "grave concerns" about putting a second team in L.A. so soon.

(corrected 1/22, 8:20 a.m.)

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Looks like the NFL owners voted for the option for the Chargers to move, because blackmailing is their official policy; but didn't want them to move, because that would upset their balance of terror.

Now the whole sham has been exposed, a precedent set for saying "NO!" to stadium hostage negotiations, and the value of other teams could depreciate as the Chargers become a liability to the league.

Did I miss anything?

Cassander: Yes, the owners voted overwhelmingly to give the Chargers an option to move to L.A. if they could not get a stadium in San Diego. In my judgment, the Chargers really didn't try to get a stadium in San Diego. They drew up a goofy plan for the convadium without consulting with San Diego leadership.

Since 1995, the Chargers have gone down two tracks. They thought they would have San Diego in their pockets if they couldn't get a stadium in L.A. Their real desire was L.A. It apparently never occurred to them that L.A. might not want them.

The Chargers didn't do their homework. Neither did the NFL -- particularly the owners who voted to let the Rams move from St. Louis and let the Chargers move to L.A. if they couldn't wangle a taxpayer-financed stadium in L.A.

Do you suppose the owners and the league executives suffer from chronic traumatic encephalopathy? Best, Don Bauder

Seems like the owners and league executives have been participating in on-field plays without our knowledge AND not following their own concussion clearance rules. It's been brutal the last 20 years in San Diego since Alex Spanos blackmailed us into the stadium expansion.

I'm just wondering if the latest self inflicted wounds leads to a severe infection? Rather than expansion, are there NFL bylaws covering contraction? Could we be witnessing the high definition super-slo motion demise of a team? I suspect Vegas odds makers would book money on it. But alas, there are just too many NFL fanatics in large metropolitan areas, sans a NFL franchise, willing to subsidize billionaire owners and multimillionaire players.

Pssssst, hey buddy, you don't think Mayor Kev, and Supe Ron, would fall for it....again, do ya?

JustWondering: If Spanos spent $5 million -- or was it $10 million? -- to buy the convadium election, which he lost, how much will it cost him If he wants to (or HAS to) come back and build a fan following? Best, Don Bauder

I suspected this drama would not be over.

Ponzi: You were right. Things started falling apart as soon as Dean Spanos made the announcement. This should be a case study for business schools -- how can something get so screwed up when there was plenty of time to plan intelligently?

Maybe we shouldn't use the word "intelligent" when speaking of the NFL owners and officials. Best, Don Bauder

Gee, are the owners so upset that they won't split up the $640 million relocation fee? Spanos has managed to alienate their potential L.A. fans already with his B.S. rumors being spread about Rivers wanting to get traded. True Spanos family routine. Get used to it L.A. Chargers coming back to San Diego? As a life long San Diegan and a too long observer of the Spanos clan ownership....no thanks. I do hope Rivers gets to be "born again" in S.F. or another city. Remember Drew Brees? He was lucky to escape.

bcoldpro: At this juncture, I can't see the Chargers returning to San Diego. The team is not wanted in L.A. or San Diego. However, the Raiders moved to L.A. from Oakland in 1982 and returned to Oakland in 1995. They were welcomed back. Next stop (probably): Las Vegas. Best, Don Bauder

Now the NFL can have too loser teams in the LA market instead on one loser team in LA and one in San Diego. I think Spanos has been drinking too much cool aid. Instead of being number one in San Diego he will be number two as a tenant in someone else's stadium. Big woop! I wish Spanos nothing good.

AlexClarke: Are you suggesting that if Dean Spanos or Mark Fabiani ran for mayor of San Diego, they might not win?

Fabiani considers himself the best crisis communications spinmeister in the world. Do you think Dean Spanos will ask him to solve this problem?Best, Don Bauder

I, like Ponzi, thought we might hear more about keeping the team. But it looks to me as if dimwit Deano now has no leverage at all. If they return, there will be no blackmail possible. The Chargers would have to play at Qualcomm, for which they pay no rent, and just settle for being very profitable. That's exactly what they could have decided to do several years ago. Make no mistake, the die-hard fans will still support them, and live and die by the W-L record each season. But the others who used to pony up for season tickets that they really didn't want or use are likely gone, and for good.

Not too long ago, in years that is, we had some discussions in these comments about the cost to refurbish Qualcomm. The whole wish-list of items that the place needed, plus some not-so-necessary things, ran to $140 million. If part of that had to be tax money, and if the Chargers still had a sweetheart deal, it would be preferable by far to some grandiose redevelopment scheme, or to a totally new downtown stadium.

Of course, I'd prefer that no tax money go to stadium remodels that garner no additional income. So, the next step would be to get the Chargers to actually pay for using the facility. What a concept!

Visduh: You make excellent points, as always. But remember that the Chargers' contract is up in 2020. Dammit, this time they will have to pay rent! Plenty of it! If there is an agreement that the Chargers are coming back (to please, as you say, a small number of radical fans), San Diego should demand stiff rent. And the Chargers can pay for most of the rehab of Qualcomm. (The city should pay for some of the rehab because it didn't maintain the stadium.)

I have been pointing out for some time that university stadiums last 80 or more than 100 years. Of course, they are maintained and expanded. Since San Diego is not likely to fill up luxury suites, more do not have to be added. Luxury seats are a possibility. Forget personal seat licenses. They will never work in San Diego.

Saving Qualcomm is the only avenue if the Chargers are to return. Best, Don Bauder

Don: If the Chargers were to return before 2020 (and the Q was still available), wouldn't the Chargers have to pay rent? After all, once they pay the $12.575 million termination fee, wouldn't the lease be terminated? Wouldn't the city and the team have to negotiate a new lease?

aardvark: It seems to me it would depend on whether the so-called "divorce" has gone through yet. Have the city and the Chargers drawn up and signed final separation papers? I doubt it. Best, Don Bauder

Don: The Chargers have a 3 month window, IIRC, that allows them to notify the city if they intend to terminate their lease (Feb 1 thru May 1), along with that termination payment. As I don't expect the Chargers returning this year (or ever, actually), that's why I feel a new lease would be necessary. Of course, since it's been so long that the Chargers have cut the city a check for anything, Spanos probably wouldn't even know who to make the check out to.

aardvark: If for some reason (astounding ineptitude) the Chargers try to return to San Diego, or (luckily) they get sold to a competent new owner, they might be able to ride on the current contract that expires in 2020. It would seem they have to May 1 to act on that. Best, Don Bauder

spanos ain't coming back with his tail between his legs. NFL should encourage (force) a sale of the team, the new owner can cancel the move.

cvret: You are absolutely right. One way for Spanos to extricate himself from this mess is to sell the team. I have favored that solution for more than a year. Trouble is, Spanos is now in such a mess that he probably would not get the money he would have gotten a year ago. Still, he can get out for more than a billion bucks -- maybe even two billion -- and he can split up the money with his family and go to a rest home. Best, Don Bauder

cvret: You raise an interesting question. Can the NFL force Spanos to sell the team? Sterling was forced, realistically, to sell the Clippers, but that was a different situation. Can the NFL tell Spanos he has mismanaged the team and must sell? I don't know the answer to that. Remember, too, that the other owners were involved in the bad decisions that led to this mess. Best, Don Bauder

Just as I suspected, Deano, the Chargers and the NFL have put on a textbook example of the "Keystone Cops" business model...Nobody knows what the heck they are doing...Their con game/"shell game" is not working in California. If you are a billionaire sports owner, then finance and pay cash for your own damn building and leave the taxpayers the hell out of it.

If you want us to pay good money to see/attend your games, then put a team on the field that plays better than the local community college football team....

SportsFan0000: Perhaps the only good that will come from all this is that from now on, California will say, "No more public money for privately-owned pro sports teams." L.A. and San Francisco are most of the way there, but there is still further to go. Best, Don Bauder

Paul Regis: Yes, that was my understanding, too. Somewhere it got changed. Maybe whoever changed it knew more than we did, however. Best, Don Bauder

Through many of the great articles and insightful comments on this blog I've always pondered what Dean Spanos' strategy was. Spanos' actions often made little sense to me but I've usually thought that there must be some underlying sense to them.

I've always believed that any (close to) billionaire would either be really shrewd or at least have some really shrewd and smart people advising him / her.

I no longer believe that about Spanos. He is neither shrewd, nor well organized, nor disciplined, nor smart, nor good at dealing with people. He has no management skills at all. He is wealthy because his dad built an empire. If Dean Spanos was not born into wealth he wouldn't have amounted to anything.

Set aside ethical issues - what sense do any of Spanos' recent actions make from a business perspective?

If he was going to move to LA he should have done it last year. It would have been much less painful for Charger fans and he could have at least made a marketing campaign to get SOME of the SD Charger fans to follow the team in LA. And he could have had an earlier start on competing with the Rams, SC, UCLA for the LA football market.

What was the point of the measure C campaign? Did he actually think it had any chance of passing? Did he feel that would make the other NFL owners feel sorry for him and give him money? Did he feel that it would allow him to place all the blame of not getting a stadium built on Faulconer and the hotel industry? He failed completely on all of those.

What was the point of waiting until the NFL owners meeting on Jan 11 to announce his decision? Did he really think the other NFL owners were just going to give him $150M because he's such a great guy? Did he not realize how bad the PR of his timing was?

He would have been much better off just announcing his intentions after measure C was voted down - at least the pro-stadium subsidy crowd and many Charger fans would have still supported him.

I know we only have a fraction of the true stories and behind-the-scenes details and there can always be more to the story than any of us will ever know.

But at this point I just can't see any possible explanation for Dean Spanos' strategy and actions of the past year other than Dean is either an idiot or makes decisions based on flawed emotional reasoning or he is horrible at working with people. Probably all 3.

Sounds a lot like Donald Trump. What would he have been without Daddy?

ImJustABill: You have raised superb questions. One is key. Spanos couldn't take L.A. last year because he was not offered a good deal by Kroenke. The owners then said he could have a year to wangle a subsidized stadium in San Diego. If he couldn't, he could join Kroenke.

Without consulting San Diego leaders, he came up with the wacky convadium proposal. He should have known that would upset the hoteliers. Through his stupidity, Spanos set himself up with an establishment enemy -- the hoteliers, a very powerful group. So he lost the election and decided to take the offer in L.A. without realizing L.A. didn't want him or his team. So here we are: in a mess caused by stupidity squared. Best, Don Bauder

Ponzi: Congratulations for a good analogy. Best, Don Bauder

Now there is talk (reported in the oh-so-predictable U-T) that the city could close the stadium because the Chargers are gone. Huh? The team was playing there free, so the cost structure is not affected. So, where will SDSU and the two bowl games play if not at Qualcomm Stadium? That they don't mention. Seems that the lease deals for both entities only go through next year. Is the local establishment going to allow those bowl games to just go away, or move to another city? Both of them are all about being near the beach, in San Diego. No, there would be hell to pay if those bowl games were lost; our tourism cabal won't allow it. And the Aztecs do have a certain following, with somewhere around a half-million locals being alums or hard-core fans. They want to see them play, and especially now that they are on a winning run with a winning coach.

There's a boatload of nonsense being discussed as a result of this Spanos move out. But some of the stuff is just so far removed from common sense and obvious constraints that we can only shake our heads.

You can bet that "boatload of nonsense" is being captained by the infamous John Moores and his band of pirates. After collecting an enormous "booty" for his Padres heist, Moores and his cronies are again in plunder mode, circling Mission Valley in their ship of fools.

Herkimer: Yes, Moores is back. It's not clear to me what his plan is this time.Best, Don Bauder

Visduh: The U-T sports columnists have been repeating and repeating that Qualcomm is a "dump," is "ancient," is a "rattletrap," ad nauseam. But by standards of major universities, Qualcomm is young. Major stadiums such as at Wisconsin and Michigan are nearing 100 years old. The stadiums for Mississippi and Mississippi State are more than a hundred years old. They have been maintained and enlarged, and they are in good shape. Actually, NFL stadiums that have been refurbished are very old -- Chicago's Soldier Field is an example.

In making a decision on Qualcomm stadium, people have to separate propaganda from truth. Best, Don Bauder

Don--It helps when a school or municipality spends money on a regular basis to maintain it's stadium. Qualcomm may be a "young" stadium compared to the college stadiums mentioned, but again, they are maintained and kept in good shape regularly--something that just doesn't happen at the Q.

And regarding Soldier Field--In 2003, the exterior of Soldier Field was kept, but the city spent over $600 million to build an entirely new stadium within the saved exterior of Soldier Field.

aardvark: Qualcomm was rehabbed in 1995. Yes, it has needs, such as more women's restrooms. There are other problems, but none is insuperable. The problem is that major sports teams expect a new stadium every 25 years, while universities have stadiums that can last four times that long, or even longer. Universities have other things to spend taxpayer money on, such as educating students.

Pro teams keep adding huge scoreboards, restaurants, stores, etc. at taxpayer expense. The leagues pass rules such as that teams can keep revenue from luxury suites rather than sharing the money with other teams. These are all lures to get taxpayers to fork over more money. It's all a scam. Fans at professional stadiums should have to live with the same kind of experience that fans at university stadiums live with.

After all, fans at Wrigley Field and Fenway Park have lived with really ancient stadiums, although Wrigley Field is going through changes. Fans at Soldier Field lived with that stadium until the recent re-do. Best, Don Bauder

Don: Regarding your second paragraph--it would appear that fans at university stadiums are getting ever closer to the same kind of experiences that fans at pro stadiums enjoy, what with all the luxury seats and massive scoreboards being installed everywhere.

And about Wrigley Field and Fenway Park--Almost $300 million was spent on refurbishing Fenway Park, and it will cost almost twice as much to refurbish Wrigley Field. Of course, what is great about that is that the TEAMS are footing the bill for this almost exclusively. Nothing was stopping the Chargers from getting together with the city to fix up the Q--except maybe Dean Spanos and his family sitting on their wallets.

aardvark: To get a taxpayer-financed stadium, Spanos and Fabiani kept saying that Qualcomm is a dump. The U-T columnists, not committed to truth or reaism, picked up the beat. It would have been very difficult for Spanos and Fabiani to switch courses and suddenly say that the team was returning to Qualcomm. However, that is one solution -- a good one. But it won't happen until the team is sold to, and managed by, an intelligent person. Best, Don Bauder

Press whiners! But when you compare the press box at the Q versus press boxes in other stadia used for NFL games their complaint resonates. The press box at the Q is, or should I say was, the slums of the NFL. Who, in their right mind, would tolerate such harsh working conditions.

JustWondering: You are so right. The real problem with Qualcomm was that press facilities weren't as luxurious as at other NFL stadiums. Sportswriters, however, didn't want to press that point, lest their readers figure out their motives. So the emphasis shifted to other Qualcomm problems. Best, Don Bauder

There is one facility that has wonderful connotations, a long history, and a wretched location that just goes on and on. I refer to the Rose Bowl. For decades it was used infrequently, which was just fine with the residents that live on the hills around it. But somehow about 1980 it offered to be the home stadium for UCLA, which jumped at the deal. No longer would they have to share the LA Coliseum with the detested Trojans of USC! Except for one thing: the Rose Bowl was old and hard to access. Some time since the 70's the bowl added some special seating in a grandstand on one side of the bowl, called the Terry Donahue Pavilion. Donahue was UCLA's head football coach from the mid-70's until 1998 or 1999.

But the reality of the place is hard to square with its reputation. The area around the bowl in a golf course, and the parking and tailgating areas are makeshift at best. A system of shuttle buses has been set up to get the folks in and out, not a great way to access such a stadium. For most of its existence it had backless bleacher seats. Those were converted from wooden planks to aluminum "planks" around 1970, and are most uncomfortable. Only about 1980 were some of the seats given backrests!

The City of Pasadena operates the Rose Bowl. One might wonder if UCLA might covet a move to the now Kroenke wonderland when it it completed. I'll bet the school would love to move from that antiquated place to his new, gold-plated operation. But I suspect that UCLA is locked into a long-term deal in Pasadena, one that it cannot afford to abandon. So, is there a big college team that could play in Inglewood? Uh, probably not. USC essentially controls the Coliseum which is across the street from their campus, and is most unlikely to leave, even if they could.

Those ancient stadia may be serviceable, but seeing a game in one of them is not always a joy. Convenience anyone? Comfort anyone?

The ingress / egress to the Rose Bowl is a bit difficult but Pasadena PD does a great job with traffic control. The seats aren't as comfortable as the modern ones but the scoreboard is great and tailgating at the Rose Bowl is unquestionably excellent - certainly by far the best of any stadium on the West Coast.

I doubt if many UCLA fans would want to leave the Rose Bowl.

ImJustABill: At the one Rose Bowl I attended, my alma mater, Wisconsin, was playing. We wondered how we could tell the Wisconsin fans from the UCLA fans. It was easy. The UCLA fans were eating sushi, and the Wisconsin fans were eating bratwurst.

Wisconsin had a huge party for alums, offering all the beer you could drink free. But if you wanted water, you had to pay for it. Best, Don Bauder

I attended one of the UCLA / Wisconsin Rose Bowls. Wisconsin fans were great fans - big supporters of their team but respectful and classy towards their opponents. Hope you had fun!

ImJustABill: We may have attended the same game. Wisconsin won. That meant that I had fun. Best, Don Bauder

Visduh: I went to one Rose Bowl. Parking was horrendous. The narrow entryways (which were also exitways) scared the hell out of me. What would happen if there were a rumble of an earthquake? Thousands could be killed racing to get out of the place. I didn't think it was a good place for watching a game, because people in front of us were standing frequently, causing others behind them to stand.

At the time I wrote that, a well-informed former commenter on this blog said I was nuts -- the Rose Bowl was a great place to watch a game.

So which is it? Best, Don Bauder

Maybe we just have different tastes - and I've been known to be biassed and not always rational when it comes to UCLA sports - so take my opinions with a grain of salt.

ImJustABill: In my case, I was there only once. That is hardly an adequate sample. So those who think I am wrong may well be right. Maybe it is a good place to watch a football game. Best, Don Bauder

Don: "...I didn't think it was a good place for watching a game, because people in front of us were standing frequently, causing others behind them to stand." And with that statement, you have also hit on one of the problems at Qualcomm Stadium.

aardvark: Funny, I have never had that problem at Qualcomm. I went to many baseball games there and never sat in a bad seat-- even ones that cost something like $3. I have gone to many Holiday Bowls and never sat in a bad seat. At one Charger game, one of my sons and I sat under the scoreboard. We could see only half the field and couldn't look back to see the replays on the screen. That was my one bad experience. Best, Don Bauder

Don: I agree with you. The Q was a great place for baseball--better, in fact, than for football. The seat pitch in the field and plaza level is poor--as soon as someone stands up, everyone ends up standing behind them; at least to the top of the plaza level seats.

aardvark: The one time I had a problem with people standing was a Holiday Bowl in which Oklahoma State played. The Oklahoma State fans insisted on standing the entire time. We complained to an usher who told the State fans to sit down, and they did. Best, Don Bauder

Don: Even though it isn't a problem now--good luck getting Chargers fans in front of you to sit down.

aardvark: Maybe at the last couple of Chargers games, fans stood up to wave goodbye to the team. Best, Don Baudeer

aardvark: I suppose that goes on at just about every stadium. Certain fans will jump up to get a better view of action and that forces others behind to stand, too. A stadium would have to be very cleverly designed to mitigate that effect.

Around 1960 or 1961, I watched the Bears play at Wrigley Field. That was a miserable experience. We were close to the field -- almost at field level. Visibility was awful. As I recall, the Bears were, too, but my memory may be weak from that long ago. Best, Don Bauder

I believe at this point, all bleacher seats are gone from the Rose Bowl between the endzones. The only bleacher seats remaining are the seats behind each endzone.

aardvark: That would be something I don't know. Best, Don Bauder

Yes, UCLA's lease at the Rose Bowl runs through the 2042 football season. It was extended as part of the deal to make improvements at the Rose Bowl including premium seating sections.

And I'm not a UCLA fan, but I'd rather see a game at the Rose Bowl than at any sterile luxury palace, including the one that Kroenke is building.

Well, we all know what 2 things in life are certain (according to Mr. Twain anyway).

I was wondering if someone can give me a brief rundown on how all the taxes and the transfer of ownership will occur upon the passing of Alex Spanos and a potential future sale

1) Alex Spanos' death

2) Sale of the Chargers

My understanding would be the following - but a lot of you are more knowledgeable so please correct me if I'm wrong.

Alex Spanos owns 97% of the Chargers. Upon his death his 4 kids will inherit the team.

  • Is this correct?

  • What percentage does each kid get? Is it split 4 ways evenly?

  • They would each owe 40% of that to Uncle Sam - right? Is that due right away or only upon a sale of the team? If it's due right away how do they estimate the value?

  • If it is due right away doesn't that basically mean that the Spanos kid HAVE to sell the Chargers as soon as Alex dies? It sounds like they would probably owe close to $1B in total inheritence tax (say the team is 2.5B so 40% is 1B) and I don't think they have anywhere near that much in liquid assets.

  • Upon a sale of the team there would have to pay income tax on the long term capital gain, right?

  • How does all of this play into the plan to move to LA? Do they somehow get the cost basis readjusted or some other tax advantage? Are there some tax advantages to the move?

Sorry, a whole lot of questions there but I'm curious. I appreciate any insight you guys can provide.

An irrevocable family trust. That is how the Spanos clan can keep the team in the family and eliminate most taxes, by passing it to his children through a trust.

You have brought up an interesting question. I know that Alex unfortunately has Alzheimer's. So he no longer has capacity to enter into contracts. Some party has power of attorney and/or guardian of the estate and that party would have to set up the trust.

There's also the wildcard, Trump. His gang wants to lower capital gains and gut estate and inheritance taxes.

Thanks Ponzi

So it doesn't sound like the move to LA affects any of the taxes?

Certainly the Trump presidency could have an effect.

Just my take on the trust. The NFL franchises have been fantastic investments for many owners. The Buffalo Bills were purchased for $25,000 in 1959. They are worth about a billion dollars now.

Spanos bought the Chargers and has realized an outstanding gain in value since the NFL has become a marketing phenomenon. The NFL popularity has created billionaires out of humble millionaires. Spanos is barely hanging on now because the pressures of being an NFL owner are not to just field a team, but to build palaces mostly subsidized by taxpayers. The league thinks everyone is a fan, but that is not true. Building an NFL stadium for billionaires is the most undemocratic action a municipality can do because there is certainly not a majority of fans in the taxpayer pool. It is a popularity contest that pits die hard fans against the majority that want fiscal responsibility; police, fire, schools, parks, infrastructure and arts.

The Spanos clan may not have to sell the team for taxes, but they join an elite few that have had to sell a sports franchise because they are almost universally hated. Taxes are the least of their problems now; the damage of their reputation, loss of trust, negative public perception and blatant lack of integrity is damaging any remaining goodwill Spanos has.

Ponzi: If Dean Spanos and the family sell the team -- an outcome devoutly to be wished -- there would be fat capital gains taxes. I know that Spanos considered selling half the team to Anschutz a few years ago, and that would probably have involved capital gains taxes. I don't believe it was taxes that stopped the deal with Anschutz, however. Best, Don Bauder

ImJustABill: As I explain below in an answer to your query, I don't think taxes will have a great effect on moving strategies, although they have been one reason the league gave Dean a long time to pay the relocation fees to the owners. Best, Don Bauder

Ponzi: Alex Spanos split up ownership among family members around a decade ago, long before he became ill. Of course, this strategy may have changed. This does not mean that an irrevocable family trust will not be used. I explain the split below, although I don't have the actual percentages at my fingertips. I'm sure they can be found through Google. Best, Don Bauder

ImJustABill: At least a decade ago, Alex Spanos split up ownership of the Chargers. He and his wife owned x percent, and Dean and his siblings owned x percent, if I recall correctly. I don't remember that the grandchildren got pieces of the team. This ownership split-up was obviously a tax move.

However, my guess is that there will still be inheritance taxes when Alex, who is in his 90s and has Alzheimer's, dies. Those taxes must have been taken into account when Dean Spanos made his moves with the Chargers. The Spanos family also owns what was once (and may still be) the largest apartment building developer in the nation. It is privately owned and records are not publicly available, but I suspect it has had hard times, because the company has concentrated on Las Vegas, which has had economic problems, particularly in housing, that still haven't gone away. The company's biggest project is in its home town of Stockton. That doesn't speak too well.

When Forbes estimates the family's wealth, the value of the Chargers is normally considered by far the largest chunk of the family assets.

Summing up, best guess: unless Trump immediately gets rid of inheritance taxes (not likely), the Spanos family will pay some on Alex's death, but it won't be a sum large enough to affect Charger location strategies. (The prospect of these taxes may have been taken into account when Spanos was given a number of years to pay his relocation fee to other owners.)Best, Don Bauder

Don: Regarding Spanos and apartment complexes--I believe they also built a sprawling complex just down the road from where the Padres hold Spring Training in Peoria, Az.

aardvark: I went over the company's website a bit ago and didn't see a reference to that Peoria project. But I am not gainsaying what you say. Best, Don Bauder

Don: Sonoma Ridge Apartments was built by AG Spanos in 2002 in Peoria, Az, It wasn't a huge complex, at 240 units. I just noticed the sign back then with the Spanos name on it.

aardvark: The housing crash began five years after the Sonoma Ridge project was completed, apparently. Possibly, it has been a successful project, although a plethora of variables are involved in assessing whether an apartment project was successful. Best, Don Bauder

Anton Cavin Raumos. I agree with you completely: hooray for San Diego for telling a billionaire to take a hike. There are better things to do with the money. A bit ago I said I thought San Diego was the first major team that turned down a team owner's scam proposal, and as a result lost the team. Best, Don Bauder

LA turned down numerous publicly subsidized stadium deals for the Rams and Raiders 20+ years ago. Both teams left LA at the time.

SportsFan0000: Both teams exited in the mid-1990s. The Rams went to a much smaller market, St. Louis, because the team was handed an incredibly juicy and astoundingly unwise deal by the city. The Raiders went back to Oakland. Now, thanks to loopholes, the Rams were able to exit St. Looie and come to L.A., and it looks like the Raiders will leave Oakland, probably for Vegas.

Two NFL teams abandoned the L.A. market at the same time more than two decades ago. Now two teams are back. Are they certain the market is so juicy? Best, Don Bauder

Bob Owoc: The Chargers returning after two years is possible, but I think it slightly more likely that the team will bomb in L.A.,then look for a home in a city such as San Antonio or St.Louis. Best, Don Bauder

If I understand things right a trust basically doubles the estate tax exemption (from about 5.5M to 11M) but any heirs are still responsible for 40% estate tax on anything above 11M. So the Spanos kids would owe Uncle Sam about

40% X (Alex Spanos net worth - 11M)

Is that right? Or are there additional trust legal techniques to dodge taxes for the very wealthy? How does that work?

ImJustABill: Maybe Ponzi can give you guidance on that. Best, Don Bauder

I'm not qualified to answer. There are so many ways to use (and abuse) trusts, no answer can be made without having all the numbers, ownership structure and beneficiary objectives. Spanos has the money to hire the best estate planning attorneys.

A good study would be the Kansas City Chiefs where the Hunt family used a trust to transfer the ownership from father to son.

Ponzi: So many trusts involve offshore tax and secrecy havens. I am not saying that these did. Best, Don Bauder

"NO LOOKING BACK," SAYS DEAN SPANOS, COMMENTING ON TALK OVER THE WEEKEND (INCLUDING ON THIS BLOG) THAT THE NFL WAS FED UP WITH THE CHARGERS' PLANS TO MOVE TO L.A. Spanos was interviewed by the Orange County Register, which asked him what he thought of weekend reports that the NFLwas disgusted with the Chargers' plans to move to L.A., although the league and owners didn't think there was any chance it could be reversed.

Said Spanos to the Register, "That's not even a consideration. There's no looking back. We're moving forward." Does that mean the Chargers will never come back to San Diego, even if they completely flop in L.A.? Not really. The words of pro football team owners are about as reliable as the words of politicians. Best, Don Bauder

SPANOS FAMILY WON'T SELL THE TEAM, ACCORDING TO REPORT. Chargers flack Mark Fabiani has told Voice of San Diego that the team will not be sold. A major reason is that the National Football League, in an attempt to discourage such a sale, imposed a so-called "flip tax" on the Rams, Chargers, and Raiders, which had plans to relocate to L.A. (Presumably, the Raiders are now out of the running.) The existence of the flip tax has been reported before by at least two publications.

From now until the end of the 2020 season, the Rams and Chargers would have to pay 20 percent of the gross sale price to the league. In the next five-year period, the flip tax would be 10 percent.

However, if the value of the Chargers would rise $1 billion or more by moving to L.A., it seems to me that the family could pay the flip tax in an emergency. One emergency is that Stan Kroenke, owner of the Rams, and Dean Spanos can't stand each other, but will be sharing a stadium. Remember: any rule imposed by the league can be changed if the owners want to wiggle out of a dilemma.

Dean Spanos can say he won't return to San Diego and won't sell the team. That may be a likely outcome, but for heaven's sake, don't bet the farm on it. Best, Don Bauder

Update: Raiders Deal in Las Vegas is collapsing...Sheldon Adelson has reportedly pulled his 650M off the table...Goldman, reportedly, is also pulling out of the Vegas stadium deal. The Raiders in secret talks with San Diego Officials to elbow into the Qualcomm stadium site deal that Spanos and Chargers left on the table when high tailing it for LA.

And as, with any rule instituted by the NFL, that rule can be changed at any time, for any reason.

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