We end 2017 with a countdown of the 10 biggest stories of the year on Football Stadium Digest, as chosen by editors and partially based on page views. Today, #8: The Los Angeles Chargers.
Not long after seeing their latest stadium pitch in San Diego rejected by voters, the San Diego Chargers began 2017 by making a major decision. In January, the club announced that it would relocate to Los Angeles and become the Los Angeles Chargers, making the move ahead of the 2017 season.
At the end of 2016, it appeared that the Chargers were closer to exercising an option to move to Los Angeles. A ballot initiative to provide public funding for a new stadium/convention center project had been resoundingly rejected by San Diego voters in November 2016, leaving questions about whether the club would continue calling the city its home. Any questions were answered once the Chargers exercised their option to move.
The short and long-term implications for the Chargers were clear. Rather than continuing to play at Qualcomm Stadium while pursuing a new facility, the Chargers would settle into Los Angeles ahead of the opening of a new Inglewood stadium that they are to share with the Los Angeles Rams.
In the meantime, however, the Chargers had to acclimate themselves into one of the most unique situations the NFL has seen in recent memory. As part of their move to Los Angeles, the Chargers announced that they would temporarily play at the StubHub Center—a Carson-based soccer-specific stadium that is considerably smaller in terms of capacity than the typical NFL stadium.
The Chargers originally anticipated that they would spend two seasons at the StubHub Center, before moving into the new Inglewood stadium in 2019. However, it was announced in May that due to heavy rainfall during the early phases of construction, the new stadium’s opening would be pushed back to 2020. This resulted not only in the Rams affirming their plans to remain the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum for an extra year, but the Chargers announcing they would stay at the StubHub Center through 2019.
Even before the extra year became a reality, the StubHub Center was prompting much discussion within NFL circles. It remained to be seen how the stadium’s cozy confines that make it a fine MLS venue would translate into the NFL game day experience. In addition, there were questions over whether the Chargers would be greeted with strong fan support upon their arrival to Los Angeles. Once the season began, reports on the game day experience were that the Chargers fans were often outnumbered by those supporting the visiting team.
Going forward, the Chargers will look to build a stronger fan base in Los Angeles as they play at the StubHub Center and await their new home. That goal began in 2017, when the Chargers made a decision that could redefine the franchise for a long time to come.
Image courtesy Los Angeles Chargers.
Previously in our Top Ten Stories of 2017 List: