A surprising decision: Chargers staying in San Diego for the 2016 season, as chairman Dean Spanos expresses a desire to work out a new-stadium deal with the city.
Insiders had predicted the team would move to Los Angeles and share the Coliseum with the Los Angeles Rams in anticipation of a future move to a new Inglewood stadium — in fact, the team this week had filed permitting papers for a new practice facility in Santa Ana. And while Spanos is keeping the move to Los Angeles very much alive as a bargaining chip (the team has until Jan. 15, 2017 to decide on a Los Angeles move), the stated desire is for a new stadium. Here’s the full statement issued with Spanos:
“Dear Chargers Fans,
Today I decided our team will stay in San Diego for the 2016 season and I hope for the long term in a new stadium.
I have met with Mayor Faulconer and Supervisor 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.
I am committed to looking at this with a fresh perspective and new sense of possibility.”
There does remain a fundamental difference of opinion about the scope and location of the new-stadium project. Spanos is pushing for a state-of-the-art facility in downtown San Diego close to the Gaslight District and Petco Park; Faulconer and other city officials want to see a less expensive project in Mission Valley in the Qualcomm Stadium vicinity. However, that plan may change with the additional leverage held by Spanos, as well as an additional $100 million from the NFL toward a new San Diego stadium, in addition to the standard $200 million G4 funding. From the Union-Tribune:
In addition to their efforts focused on Los Angeles, the Chargers have been preparing for the possible revival of negotiations in San Diego for months. They have done preliminary work toward launching a citizens initiative that will almost certainly be aimed at getting a stadium built downtown.
That initiative, which would require signature gathering, would likely need to be launched by late March in order to qualify for the November ballot. Signatures would have to be gathered from nearly 67,000 registered voters under city rules, but that number would drop to 19,000 with City Council approval of the measure.
Roberts said Friday evening that Spanos seemed open to Mission Valley during the afternoon meeting, which he said had an “incredibly positive” tenor.
“We discussed downtown and while it remains on the table, it’s not being pushed as the only place or the right place,” Roberts said.