After 14 years of talk about the Chargers moving to Los Angeles, a climactic all-day vote among NFL owners has led San Diego, it seems, to more talk.
St. Louis Rams owner Stan Kroenke got the owners’ approval to move his team at his preferred site in Inglewood, defeating the joint Chargers-Raiders proposal for a stadium in Carson. And the league gave Chargers owner Dean Spanos the option to join the Rams whenever he wants for the next year.
This means that the Chargers aren’t leaving San Diego immediately. But they’re not necessarily staying either. We’re going to try and answer some questions you might have.
Where are the Chargers playing next year?
We don’t know yet. Spanos put out a statement immediately after the decision, leaving the option open for either San Diego or Los Angeles.
In a press conference after the vote, the Union-Tribune’s Kevin Acee asked Spanos what he was going to do and Spanos punted, saying he needed to consider his options.
Kroenke said Tuesday the option in Inglewood is for the Chargers to join his Rams as partners in the stadium or as a tenant. If they were partners, Spanos and Kroenke would share the stadium — but not necessarily the entire development Kroenke is planning for the area.
If the Chargers are going to L.A. next season, they’ll have to decide by May 1. That’s the last day the team’s allowed to exit its lease with the city of San Diego until the following February, per the lease terms. Officials at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum have indicated they are willing to rent out the facility as a temporary site for the Rams until the Inglewood stadium gets built and that it can house the Chargers, too.
Will the Chargers engage at all in San Diego?
Some reporters are framing Tuesday’s decision as giving the Chargers a year to work out a deal with Kroenke not time to figure something out in San Diego. Many pundits and even County Supervisor Ron Roberts predicted Spanos would get an option to partner with Kroenke in Inglewood. Yet the Chargers’ owner seemed quite disappointed.
It was a loss for Spanos, who had hopes of getting his Carson alternative approved up until late in the day. He has been steadfast in saying he doesn’t want to be Kroenke’s partner. From Los Angeles Daily News sportswriter Vincent Bonsignore:
If the Chargers do decide to engage on a San Diego plan, NFL owners approved kicking in an extra $100 million each in private money toward stadiums in San Diego and Oakland to make up for the Carson plan failing.
The money could bridge the gap between what public resources the city and county are willing to put forward and what the team is.
If the Chargers do play ball in San Diego, where do they want a stadium?
The team has spent a lot of time over the last six months dumping on Mayor Kevin Faulconer’s proposal to build a new stadium on the Qualcomm site in Mission Valley. The city’s environmental review is going to fail and so would a public vote to approve the $350 million subsidy currently proposed by the mayor, the team has argued. If the team picks Faulconer’s plan, it would be quite an about-face with big remaining concerns about its viability.
It’s also been floated that the Chargers would consider sponsoring a ballot initiative to work on building a stadium downtown, instead. In all likelihood, this idea may be combined with a Convention Center expansion that may or may not track well with a separate ballot measure on downtown tourism being promoted by activist attorney Cory Briggs and former Padres owner John Moores.
But that presents its own hurdles.
What are the problems with the downtown idea?
There are at least four. Downtown would need an environmental review as well – though the initiative developed by Briggs would resolve most of that problem if it passes.
There’s serious opposition. The hotel lobby and the mayor prefer a different Convention Center expansion along the bay.
Hoteliers could fight the Chargers’ plan with lots of money.
Then there’s the logistics. The mayor has pointed out that the downtown site will take many years and millions of dollars to cobble together because of the existing bus yard on the property.
And there’s the money. The Briggs initiative provides a tax incentive for hoteliers to fund a Convention Center and perhaps that serves as support for a combined stadium. But if that doesn’t pass or survive a legal challenge, and even if it does, the project would most likely require a tax increase. That then requires a two-thirds vote, which is a very difficult hurdle to overcome.
What’s the mayor going to do?
Faulconer, Roberts and City Attorney Jan Goldsmith put out a simple statement that they were open to further negotiations with the Chargers and would take questions Wednesday morning.
Faulconer’s going to have some tough choices ahead. He could not budge from the offer he and Roberts made. Or he could offer the Chargers more taxpayer money than he has already. He could renege on his pledge to have a public vote for his stadium deal.
The mayor’s chief of staff tweeted late Tuesday that wasn’t going to happen: “Lots of questions on public vote…Yes a deal means there must be a public vote. No that’s not negotiable,” wrote Stephen Puetz.
Faulconer could embrace the downtown alternative, which could well anger some of his most influential supporters in the hotel industry. (Faulconcer has previously said he’d be willing to work for a downtown stadium if the team would commit to staying in San Diego throughout the process.) Or he could tell Spanos to pound sand, betting that the owner’s not going to be able to work out a good deal with Kroenke.
No matter what, we’re still going to be talking about this for the foreseeable future.