There has been no announcement regarding the future of the San Diego Chargers, and it is uncertain at this point as to when one will be made.
The debate over whether the Chargers should exercise their option to move to Los Angeles or decide to remain in San Diego has continued. While it was previously known that the Chargers would wait until after the regular season to finalize their decision, the team and the NFL are in a position to determine whether the team has a viable future in San Diego.
The Chargers have an offer on the table for $375 million in funding for a stadium project. That model includes $200 million from the City of San Diego, $75 million San Diego County, and $100 million from San Diego State University, which has figured prominently in talks of redeveloping the Qualcomm Stadium site. However, that contribution falls short of what the Chargers are looking for in supplemental stadium funds, which has put an onus on the NFL to determine whether it can allocate resources to the project.
That plan would be an alternative to the Los Angeles option, which allows the Chargers to join the Los Angeles Rams at a new stadium in Inglewood when it opens in 2018. Though a meeting between the NFL’s finance and stadium committees is scheduled for January 11, Kevin Acee of The San Diego Union-Tribune explains why the timing of a decision is uncertain:
While many around the league and those close to [Chargers owner Dean] Spanos say he is prepared to move, the Chargers have appealed to the league for help to remain in San Diego.
Even as the league and several owners continue to discuss possible solutions in San Diego, one NFL source said there is no guarantee the Chargers won’t announce their decision before the Jan. 11 meeting.
That source also said, however, it is possible the Chargers could be given time beyond the Jan. 15 deadline. Owners assigned that date as a deadline when they voted last January to allow the Rams to move from St. Louis. Owners at that time gave the Oakland Raiders the option to move to Los Angeles if the Chargers did not exercise their option by Jan. 15, 2017. However, the Raiders are now actively trying to move to Las Vegas and are expected to file a relocation request at the conclusion of their season (which could be as early as Saturday evening).
The Raiders’ chance to pick up the option could come into play. While the team has undoubtedly made Las Vegas its target, Los Angeles would be a solid fallback if the deal in Las Vegas cannot be finalized.
Even if they decide to stay in San Diego for now, the Chargers still face the issue that funding for a new stadium will be the subject of a referendum. That could add years to the process, as the earliest a proposal could be placed on the ballot is 2018.
To account for that variable, the NFL could make a decision on Las Vegas that helps the Raiders and the Chargers, something that Vincent Bonsignore at The Orange County Register explains:
To buy the necessary time for that vote to unfold, the NFL could give strong assurances to the Raiders they will be approved for Las Vegas, thus allowing them to relinquish their L.A. option to the Chargers to give the Chargers more time – and peace of mind – to work things out in San Diego.
With just a little more creativity and open-mindedness, the NFL could create a strong TV ratings base in Los Angeles without adding a second team here to cut into the Rams physical hold on the market.
There is no doubt the Raiders have a strong L.A. foothold, and the NFL could designate them the quasi second team in the market, albeit from afar. They’d simply need to adjust the TV rules and allow Raiders games to be televised opposite Rams home games.
In doing so, the NFL would create an L.A. ratings bonanza by pairing the Rams and Raiders.
The ability to revisit Los Angeles down the road could make the decision to stay in San Diego easier, especially given the unknowns in building public support for a stadium. Whether that is a possibility, however, remains to be seen, as the Chargers and the NFL clearly have multiple factors to consider.