The San Diego Chargers will remain in their current home for the 2016 season, and team owner Dean Spanos announced Friday his goal is to get a new stadium in San Diego.
Spanos broke the news in an open letter to Chargers fans:
I have met with Mayor (Kevin) Faulconer and Supervisor (Ron) Roberts and I look forward to working closely with them and the business community to resolve our stadium dilemma. We have an option and an agreement with the Los Angeles Rams to go to Inglewood in the next year, but my focus is on San Diego.
This has been our home for 55 years, and I want to keep the team here and provide the world-class stadium experience you deserve.
Everyone on both sides of the table in San Diego must now determine the best next steps and how to deploy the additional resources provided by the NFL.
Tom Pelissero of USA Today provided a statement from NFL commissioner Roger Goodell on the Chargers' decision:
Jim Trotter of ESPN reported the Chargers believe they could know if a stadium deal is "doable" in San Diego within two to three months.
Kevin Acee of the San Diego Union-Tribune reported Friday the Chargers agreed in principle with the Rams to share a stadium in Inglewood. Bleacher Report's Jason Cole posited the goal of such a move could still hypothetically be keeping the Chargers in San Diego:
Chargers wide receiver Keenan Allen sent a message to the fans following the news:
So it's looks like we are going to be in San Diego for another season. The stadium better be packed. The fans got what they wanted.— Keenan Allen (@Keenan13Allen) January 30, 2016
Now let's see sell outs every home game! And not the other teams colors! #BoltUp— Keenan Allen (@Keenan13Allen) January 30, 2016
Sam Farmer of the Los Angeles Times believes as well the team's future is looking to be in San Diego:
Not moving this year will only make it harder for Chargers to move next year. I read it as a good sign for the long-term future in SD.— Sam Farmer (@LATimesfarmer) January 29, 2016
ESPN's Andrew Brandt made his case for why San Diego is the best fit for the Chargers:
Have been in minority on this, but always expected Chargers to stay. Now armed with extra $100M from NFL to push SD to come up with more.— Andrew Brandt (@AndrewBrandt) January 29, 2016
Kroenke doesn't want to share stadium, can't see him having offered a "good deal" unless forced to by league. Better deal may be in SD.— Andrew Brandt (@AndrewBrandt) January 29, 2016
Once the protracted race to L.A. began, it looked clear the Chargers' first choice—at least initially—was a move north. Their original plan, which they announced in February 2015, was a groundshare with the Oakland Raiders in Carson, California.
However, NFL owners voted 30-2 on Jan. 12 in favor of the Rams' move to Inglewood, leaving the Chargers and Raiders out in the cold. As part of the agreement, the Chargers had a yearlong window in which they could move to Los Angeles with the Rams.
"I don't want to mislead anybody or say anything that would not be correct," said Spanos after the owners approved the Rams-to-Inglewood plan, per Acee. "In the next several weeks or so I am going to sit down and look at my options and make the decision in the near future."
His comments before the Rams' move, though, seemed to indicate he'd already made up his mind.
"It's been 14 years that we've been working very hard to try and get something done here," he said in January in regard to a new stadium for the Chargers in San Diego, per Fox 5. "We've had nine different proposals that we've made, and all of them were basically rejected by the city."
Spanos added the goal of going to Los Angeles was to "protect our business more than anything."
Mayor Faulconer countered with his side of the story.
"San Diego developed a fair stadium proposal and a plan to hold a special election by the NFL's deadline, but the Chargers' owner walked away from the table," he said, per Fox 5. "The more San Diego has done the less engaged the Chargers have become. San Diegans deserve better."
Another immediate issue for San Diego was the ticking clock against which it was working. Pro Football Talk's Mike Florio provided the full details of the city's plan for a new stadium and reported voters could approve of $350 million in public funding for the venue in a June election.
Trotter noted, though, that timetable might not necessarily work for the Chargers:
If Chargers are going to move this year, they need to decide before start of the league year, March 9, b/c uncertainty affects free agency.— Jim Trotter (@JimTrotter_NFL) January 13, 2016
Friday's announcement solves that issue since potential free agents know where the Chargers will be playing next season.
This may be a turning point for San Diego in keeping the Chargers, or it could merely be a stay of execution.
Spanos' first refusal on a move to Los Angeles extends into January of next year, so he still has the opportunity to exercise that option at any point before then.
In addition, a new stadium in San Diego is far from a guarantee. The public still has to vote in favor of the $350 million in funding, and residents may be a bit wary of handing another sports team hundreds of millions of dollars after doing so for the San Diego Padres for the construction of Petco Park a little over a decade ago.
Spanos continues to have all of the leverage in this situation, but he's taking somewhat of a risk by putting off a potential move to Los Angeles for a year. Allowing the Rams to have the city to themselves will only strengthen their foothold in L.A. They will have first crack and any commercial deals, in addition to the added benefit of making a first impression with the fanbase.
NFL.com's Chris Wesseling offered this anecdotal evidence regarding the Rams' built-in advantage in Los Angeles:
I’ve been in Los Angeles for three years and have met a handful Chargers fans vs. hundreds of Rams fans. https://t.co/A428oYEgNF— Chris Wesseling (@ChrisWesseling) January 29, 2016
Waiting a year and then ultimately heading north presents the risk of falling even further behind the Rams in terms of interest in L.A.
This is undoubtedly good news for Chargers fans hoping the team stays in San Diego, but the city of Los Angeles will continue to be a specter looming over the franchise for another season.