San Diego Chargers: Bolts' Announcement Hardly Precludes Move to Los Angeles

Josh MartinNBA Lead WriterJanuary 9, 2012

SAN DIEGO - MAY 03: Head coach Norv Turner and general manager A.J. Smith of the San Diego Chargers watch practice during minicamp at the Chargers training facility on May 3, 2009 in San Diego, California. (Photo by Kevin Terrell/Getty Images)
Kevin Terrell/Getty Images

The San Diego Chargers re-enacted their annual song and dance with the city in which they play by releasing a joint statement with Mayor Jerry Sanders that they won't "bolt" for Los Angeles this year.

Not that folks in San Diego really want to see another year of AJ Smith in the front office and Norv Turner on the sidelines, but they'll get one anyway.

The Bolts' lease at Qualcomm Stadium, a city-owned venue, runs through 2020, but it includes a provision whereby the team can pack up and move, penalty free, during an annual "trigger period" between February 1 and May 1. The only certainty to come from Monday's announcement was that the Chargers won't exercise that option this year.

And why would they? Ground has yet to break on the construction of a downtown LA stadium proposed by Anschutz Entertainment Group, which also owns and operates the Staples Center and the surrounding LA Live complex, among a host of other high-end entertainment properties worldwide. If the Bolts were to move right away, they'd have to consider playing in either the under-renovation Rose Bowl or the run-down Memorial Coliseum for at least the next few years while AEG and the city squabble over the environmental impact of construction while the NFL attempts to flex its own muscle hither and thither.

Let's not forget, either, about Ed Roski's competing plan at Grand Crossing (i.e. Carson), which has about a snowman's chance in you know where of coming to fruition but is being propped up as an alternative anyway, so the NFL can dictate the terms of this whole multi-billion-dollar circus.

But I digress. The Bolts could still ditch San Diego before their lease is up, but there are other reasons to believe they'll at least try to make it work where they are. The Spanos family, which owns the team, has shown little desire to deal with Philip Anschutz, much less uproot the team from San Diego. They are instead focused on a proposal to build a brand new, Super Bowl-caliber stadium on the site of a bus maintenance yard in the East Village of downtown San Diego.

There are still plenty of hurdles to clear before anyone can start pushing dirt—negotiations with the mayor and the city council, securing proper permits and voter approval, etc.—but nothing that would be any more bureaucratically daunting that what the Chargers would have to deal with by moving north.

In the meantime, the Bolts have left the door wide open for a number of other NFL franchises seeking bigger profits and better stadiums to more seriously entertain a move to the City of Angels. The St. Louis Rams, the Oakland Raiders, the Jacksonville Jaguars and the Minnesota Vikings have all been rumored to have strong interest in bringing pro football back to LA. The Rams and the Raiders, in particular, both left town in 1995 and each have their own inclinations toward a return, what with their respectively decrepit stadiums, Rams owner Stan Kroenke's strong relationship with AEG and Raiders owner Mark Davis taking over for his late father. 

In any case, Bolts fans can look forward to at least one more year of underachievement and the swirling rumors of changes in management and coaching that come with it.

Hallelujah, indeed.