Statement: The Chargers can end their lease at Qualcomm Stadium “if they pay off the bonds used to expand Qualcomm Stadium in 1997,” ESPN reported Jan. 29.
Analysis: The Chargers can break the stadium lease between Feb. 1 and April 30 each year, but must then pay the city a fee that gradually falls over time. This year’s fee: $26 million.
The relative ease of leaving Qualcomm Stadium — simply writing a check — has bolstered concerns that the Chargers would be a top contender to move to Los Angeles, where two wealthy developers have laid out plans to build NFL stadiums. The Chargers, as it so happens, want a new stadium.
But in a recent story about the Los Angeles plans, which again highlighted the Chargers as a leading candidate, ESPN inaccurately described how the lease’s termination fee would pay off debts from the 1997 renovations to Qualcomm Stadium.
Contrary to ESPN’s report, the lease doesn’t say the Chargers must pay off the city’s remaining debt — $51 million. The Chargers must simply pay a fixed fee to end the contract.
Since this year’s $26 million termination fee would fall far short of paying off $51 million in debt, we’ve called the statement false.
We requested ESPN publish a correction Wednesday. If it responds to our request, we will update this post.
If you disagree with our determination or analysis, please express your thoughts in the comments section of this blog post. Explain your reasoning.