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Statement: “So let’s talk about the Chargers. They want a new football stadium. They’ve agreed to partner with us to explore sites. And it’s no secret that they could leave San Diego for another city, virtually any time they choose,” San Diego Mayor Jerry Sanders said Jan. 13 in his annual State of the City address.
Determination: Mostly True
Analysis: The Chargers by contract have one of, if not the, easiest way out of their town of any team in the NFL. That led the Los Angeles Times to declare this fall the Chargers were the team most likely to move to a proposed stadium in Los Angeles.
But Sanders’ statement evokes the infamous day in 1984 where Baltimore woke up to find the Colts had left the city in a midnight snow bound for Indianapolis. That’s unlikely to happen here.
The Chargers lease with the city at Qualcomm Stadium runs through 2020. The team can break the lease, but there are rules that limit when the Chargers can leave and penalties for doing so. If the team wants to leave, it has to give the city written notice in the three-month period between February and May of each year.
Breaking the lease requires the Chargers to pay the city. This year’s fee is $54.7 million — or just less than 3/5ths of the seven-year contract extension star quarterback Philip Rivers signed last summer. Next year the fee drops to $25.8 million, and it declines each year thereafter.
Of course, the team can leave outside that three-month window, but it would be in breach of contract, owe the city liquidated damages and likely face a lawsuit.
The mayor’s press office says that San Diegans are aware there are administrative requirements for the Chargers to leave and “wouldn’t have taken [the mayor’s statement] to mean they can leave at a moment’s notice.”
— LIAM DILLON