SAN DIEGO (AP) — The Chargers appear ready to leave San Diego, their home of 56 seasons, for the potentially more lucrative but crowded Los Angeles market.
Hours after the Chargers were granted a two-day extension to exercise their option to relocate to Los Angeles, a media report surfaced Wednesday night that the team plans to move.
The Chargers have called a staff meeting for 8 a.m. PST Thursday, a team employee said Wednesday night. The employee spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the matter. The employee said the topic of the meeting hadn’t been divulged.
Team chairman Dean Spanos didn’t return a message left at his home.
Citing league sources, ESPN.com reported Wednesday night that the Chargers plan to announce as early as Thursday that they are moving to Los Angeles. According to the report, the Chargers have notified NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, and the owners of other teams, of their intent to move to Los Angeles for the 2017 season.
ESPN.com reported that nothing was final.
However, relations have been strained for years between the Chargers, who’ve sought a big public subsidy to replace aging Qualcomm Stadium, and City Hall, which has been beset by scandals and various economic crises.
If the Chargers announce Thursday that they’re leaving, it will surely put a damper on Mayor Kevin Faulconer’s state of the city address.
Faulconer formed a task force in 2015 to try to find a stadium solution, but the Chargers didn’t like its recommendation and walked away from negotiations with the city and county. Faulconer recently met with Spanos, and helped cobble together a $375 million package from the city, county and San Diego State, which also plays football at Qualcomm Stadium.
If the Chargers leave, it will come less than three months after voters resoundingly rejected a team-sponsored measure asking for $1.15 billion in increased hotel occupancy taxes to help fund a $1.8 billion downtown stadium and convention center.
They would leave behind a loyal fan base that cheered for Dan Fouts, Charlie Joiner and Kellen Winslow during the Air Coryell years in the 1970s and early 1980s, and for Junior Seau, Stan Humphries and Natrone Means on the Chargers’ only Super Bowl team in 1994.
San Diego would become a tenant in the stadium being built in Inglewood for the Rams if the Chargers exercise that option. If not, the Oakland Raiders would have the option to join the Rams in the L.A. area, though Raiders owner Mark Davis has indicated his intention to seek a move to Las Vegas.
The Chargers would have to find a temporary home in L.A., either the Coliseum or the 27,000-seat StubHub! Center in Carson.
San Diego was given the option to move to L.A. after owners rejected a proposed shared stadium for the Chargers and Raiders in Carson, and accepted the Rams’ plans for Inglewood. The owners gave the Chargers and Raiders each an additional $100 million to try to make stadium deals in their home markets.
The NFL’s stadium and finance committees met Wednesday for about 3 1/2 hours to discuss relocation of the Chargers and Raiders. The fact-finding meetings mostly centered on the Raiders’ plan for a potential move to Nevada. No filings for relocation were made; Oakland has until Feb. 15.
“There was little to no discussion on the topic of the Chargers,” league executive Eric Grubman said.
And no decisions were planned nor made at the meeting, in which all members of the two committees took part, some by teleconference. Those owners are finance chairman Bob McNair of Houston, along with Atlanta’s Arthur Blank, Tampa Bay’s Joel Glazer, Kansas City’s Clark Hunt, Indianapolis’ Jim Irsay, Jacksonville’s Shahid Khan, New England’s Robert Kraft, Philadelphia’s Jeffrey Lurie and Miami’s Steve Ross.
Participating from the stadium committee were chairman Art Rooney of Pittsburgh, Arizona’s Michael Bidwill, the Jets’ Woody Johnson, Dallas’ Stephen Jones, Chicago’s George H. McCaskey and San Francisco’s Jed York.
The owners did talk about possible relocation fees, though Rooney said no specific numbers were discussed. PJT Partners, which analyzed what the relocation fee for the Rams’ move from St. Louis last year should be, has been hired by the league to do the same job again. The Rams paid $550 million to move to L.A.
Much of the meeting was taken up with the Raiders presenting financial updates. Rooney and Grubman said there was no discussion of Las Vegas casino owner Sheldon Adelson’s potential role in the Raiders’ relocation. Rooney noted NFL rules and policies that would prohibit a casino owner from having ownership of a franchise.
“It would have to be in compliance with our rules,” Rooney said. “The Raiders are looking at the potential of doing without Mr. Adelson if it comes down to that.”
AP Pro Football Writer Barry Wilner in New York contributed to this report.