San Diego Chargers Move to Los Angeles Causes Outrage Amongst Fans, Former Players
NFL teams don’t move around much, so when the San Diego Chargers announced Wednesday that they would become the Los Angeles Chargers as early as Thursday, it was a big deal. After 55 years in San Diego, the Chargers will play their home games for the 2017 NFL season in L.A, where the franchise played its inaugural season in 1960 before moving to San Diego the next season.
Between the Chargers and the St. Louis Rams (who became the Los Angeles Rams before the 2016 season), the league is going all-in for the Los Angeles market which hasn’t had a team since the Rams and Oakland Raiders both left after the 1994 season. Of course, I’m skeptical that the market which couldn’t support two teams back then can support two now, but Chargers owner Dean Spanos is ready for the next chapter.
“L.A. is a remarkable place, and while we played our first season there in 1960 and have had fans there ever since, our entire organization knows that we have a tremendous amount of work to do,” said Spanos. “We must earn the respect and support of L.A. football fans. We must get back to winning. And, we must make a meaningful contribution, not just on the field, but off the field as a leader and champion for the community. The Chargers are determined to fight for L.A., and we are excited to get started.”
As one might expect, many people aren’t thrilled about the decision. Spanos reportedly told no one until the announcement—not even team or city officials. The Chargers will play at the StubHub Center (home to the L.A. Galaxy MLS team) until the new stadium in Inglewood is ready, which they will share with the Rams.
The StubHub Center, by the way, will fit about 30,000 max should the Chargers expand it. Quite the downgrade from the 70,000+ fans who could fit into Qualcomm Stadium.
Additionally, fans aren’t happy with the way Spanos handled the stadium situation in San Diego. The new stadium he demanded was projected to cost around $1.2 billion: $300 million from the league (an astonishing chip-in), at least $200-250 million from a naming deal, and then the remaining $650 or so million from the team and Spanos.
Spanos pledged $350 million to the project, but will instead now pay the NFL’s relocation fee—$650 million.
So, since Spanos couldn’t get the deal he was looking for from the city of San Diego and the taxpayers, he decided to pay the league and leave instead of remaining in town. A tough break for the city, the fans, and even the players.
“Relocation is painful for teams and communities,” said NFL commissioner Roger Goodell. “It is especially painful for fans, and the fans in San Diego have given the Chargers strong and loyal support for more than 50 years, which makes it even more disappointing that we could not solve the stadium issue. As difficult as the news is for Chargers fans, I know Dean Spanos and his family did everything they could to try to find a viable solution in San Diego.”
I’m not a Chargers fan, but I still find that last sentence hard to believe given the numbers. The news really hit home for Chargers greats and current players.
“At first, I hoped it was fake news,” said former Charger Dan Fouts. “It’s something that is unfortunate, but it is reality.”
“More than anything, I’m shocked,” said defensive tackle Corey Liuget. “I didn’t think it was going to happen. I thought we were going to stay in San Diego…I guess L.A. is our new home then.”
To end on a more positive note, receiver Keenan Allen sounds excited:
“It’s different to hear the Los Angeles Chargers, but it should be dope.”