Closing Days for the San Diego Chargers?
Why the Chargers May Leave San Diego
While baseball may claim to be the nation’s pastime, there is really no more American game than football. The noise, the excitement, the last second Hail Mary to score a game-winning touchdown will get even non-sports fans on their feet cheering. Even for those without an understanding of the complexities of the game, having a home team to root for is always fun, even if they’re having an off season.
Sadly though, this may be an experience that San Diego football fans soon are forced to go without. Recent talks have exposed that the Chargers, a team that has called San Diego home for 55 years, may be moving northward to plunder the riches of Los Angeles. The saga of the Chargers perhaps moving is more than 15 years in the making. It began in 2000 when Alex Spanos, the owner of the team, stated that the former Jack Murphy Stadium (now the infamous Qualcomm) was no longer large enough for the team and requested a bigger one. This was a mere three years after the city had expanded the stadium to accommodate earlier requests made by the Chargers.
The Future of the San Diego Chargers
Now, the opportunity has arisen for the San Diego Chargers to move as the NFL announced plans for a new football stadium in Inglewood, southwest of Los Angeles. Theoretically, this could be the larger arena the Chargers were looking for. Spanos, who has had the right to move the team since his contract expired in 2008, has been aggressively pressuring the NFL to give the new stadium to the Chargers.
The Chargers are not the only team interested in the new stadium, however. The St. Louis Rams are also looking to move, seeking a new area that may be more profitable. As of last week, the now former "St. Louis" Rams are officially departing for the City of Angels. The only question is whether or not the Chargers will be joining them.
One other interesting character in all of this is the mayor of San Diego: Kevin Faulconer. Over the past year, the mayor has been very committed to keeping the team in San Diego, but the negotiations fell apart in mid-June when team ownership announced that they were not getting a good enough deal from the city. Faulconer has said that, while the team is an important part of the community and the city’s history, voters should have a say in how their tax dollars are spent. Despite the contentious nature of the talks, Faulconer remains positive that the team can remain in San Diego and hopes to continue with “good faith” negotiations as long as the Chargers will consider staying in their current city.
Should the Chargers Go?
Not everyone is upset by the potential loss, however. The Chargers ownership stands to make a hefty chunk of change; potentially nearly doubling the worth of the team by relocating, and some residents are more than happy to see the Charger’s taillights if they drive up north. Groups advocating for the departure claim that the team leaving is not only good for the Chargers themselves, but actually good for San Diego. They say that the team leaving will free the city of the cost of maintaining the Chargers and Qualcomm stadium, as well as freeing up Downtown and Mission Valley for other development options.
Opponents claim that losing the team would not only be a blow to a more-than-five-decade tradition of football in San Diego, but also a hit to tourism and the revenue that visitors bring to the city. They claim that the Chargers bring in people to San Diego to see the games, and these tourists then spend money on merchandise and local businesses. When pressed if the Chargers could actually sustain a fan base in the Los Angeles region, the team claims that it currently draws more than 25 percent of its fans from north of San Diego.
Needless to say, it is an interesting time for the Chargers. While they are certainly far from the best team in the NFL, having finished the 2015 season with a 4-12 record, it would be sad to see that iconic lightning bolt without the words San Diego in front of it. With the owners meeting in Houston and the NFL giving the team a one-year window to move to Inglewood, only time will tell if San Diego will join the pantheon of great American cities without a football team.