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NFL Must Decide on San Diego Chargers’ Status

Proposed San Diego Chargers stadium

Less than two weeks remain on the San Diego Chargers‘ option to move to Los Angeles, making the team’s status an urgent issue for the NFL

The Chargers have to decide by January 15 whether they will exercise that option, which will allow them to join the Los Angeles Rams at a new stadium in Inglewood in 2019. If the team follows through on that possibility, it could leave San Diego before next season in favor of a temporary venue in the Los Angeles area. Already, there have been some signs that a move could take place, including approval of a lease in Inglewood by NFL owners and the Chargers’ plans to locate some operations in Costa Mesa, which is located in Orange County.

Neither of these maneuvers, however, completely close the door on a return to San Diego. As it stands, the Chargers could remain in San Diego and work on a plan for a new stadium. According to Kevin Acee of the San Diego-Union Tribune, the Chargers are fielding a proposal from the City of San Diego, San Diego County, and San Diego State University–which is already linked to a redevelopment of Mission Valley and the Qualcomm Stadium site–that would include $375 million in funding.

The exact breakdown of the shares remains unknown, but it falls below a previous request from the Chargers for funds for a new stadium. Ultimately, as Acee explains, whether that plan moves forward could come down to whether the NFL will step in with the resources to keep the team in San Diego. From the Union-Tribune:

However, the $375 million those entities say they can provide is more than $100 million less than what the Chargers were seeking. Thus, the message being delivered is that the team’s fate hinges on what further support the NFL can provide – via loan or grant or some other partnership.

The league last year pledged an additional $100 million – on top of the standard $200 million G4 loan – toward construction of a stadium in San Diego. The Chargers were to contribute $350 million in their Measure C proposal, a sum that included the sale of naming rights and seat licenses.

A projected total contribution of $1.025 billion is as much as $175 million less than the team’s estimates of the cost of a stadium in Mission Valley.

The sides have also talked about the team continuing a quest for a downtown venue.

Any proposal involving public money would have to go to a public vote, either in 2018 or 2020.

As Acee later notes, moving forward with this proposal–which could take years to come to fruition–would require the Chargers to pass on their option for now.

One thing that has played out as expected is the Chargers’ timing on their announcement. When the team’s proposal for a new downtown stadium/convention center failed via referendum in November, owner Dean Spanos said that an announcement regarding the team’s future would not come until after the season. The regular season has now come to a conclusion, and the question of whether the Chargers will remain in San Diego for 2017 and beyond is still in question.

For their part, Chargers officials are not tipping their hands. When asked about it at a press conference on Monday, John Spanos, the team’s president–football operations, declined to commit one way or the other. More from CBS Los Angeles:

“Well, what we know right now it’s one of two locations and it’s, you know, an announcement that I don’t know when it’s going to come but I hope it’s coming soon, so I hopefully that resolves itself soon,” Spanos said.

“As far as when the announcement is made is out of my control. It’s not something I work day-to-day on.”

The Chargers were first granted the option to relocate last year, when their joint bid with the Oakland Raiders for a new stadium in Carson, CA was rejected by NFL owners in favor of the Rams’ proposal in Inglewood.

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