Chargers announce move to Los Angeles, all that’s left is deciding who to be the most mad at

So the San Diego Chargers are moving to Los Angeles, owner Dean Spanos having dropped the other shoe yesterday by releasing this statement and changing their logo before announcing it wasn’t really their new logo after everyone, even the Tampa Bay Lightning social media director, made fun of them. Normally a relocation like this would require a vote of NFL owners to make official, but the league already gave Spanos a “good for one move to Inglewood” coupon last January, so this is a done deal.

There are many, many, many feels that one can have about this, depending on one’s perspective, so why doesn’t one sit down with us and run through them to see how reasonable one is being?

  • Rot in hell, Dean Spanos, for taking a team away from the fans who’ve supported it for a half-century! Spanos is definitely screwing over Chargers fans (who have responded by dumping their team gear outside the Chargers office and throwing eggs at the windows, and even trying to set fire to a team flag) in an attempt to make more money. Whether this makes him a greedy asshole or a savvy self-interested businessman is, wait, what’s the difference again?
  • Dean Spanos is an idiot for choosing to pay a relocation fee and be Stan Kroenke’s second fiddle in L.A. rather than working something out in San Diego! VERDICT: unproven. Yes, the relocation fee (reportedly $550 million payable over 10 years, which in present value is worth more like $425 million) is a lot, and Spanos is going to need to choose between either paying Rams owner Stan Kroenke a whole lot of rent (or shared revenues, which amount to the same thing) or putting up half the construction cost of the new Inglewood stadium up front, either of which is going to be really expensive. Maybe he thinks he can earn it back from increased revenue in a bigger market (though the NFL is limited in that regard since there are no local TV deals), maybe he was just pissy that San Diego voters didn’t want to give him $1.15 billion. Or maybe he’s an idiot.
  • Dean Spanos is an evil genius, now he can sell the Chargers for twice what he was going to get for them in San Diego! This is wisdom so conventional that people feel authorized to tweet about it like it’s true, but like all franchise value claims, it’s really just guesswork: Nobody knows how much more some theoretical billionaire would be willing to pay for the Los Angeles Chargers than for the San Diego Chargers, especially not until we see how popular they’ll be sharing that market with the Rams, and with that unfriendly lease that will saddle them with uncounted future costs. Only Spanos’s bean counters know for sure, and while it’s a fair bet that he’ll come out ahead since otherwise he wouldn’t be doing this (though see above re: pissy and/or idiot), it’s probably not going to be a double-your-money deal.
  • The NFL is going to regret this, nobody in L.A. wants to watch the dumb old Rams and Chargers! Certainly the Rams’ first season in L.A. wasn’t a raging success, with fans coming disguised as empty seats and TV ratings down relative to when L.A. football viewers were watching other cities’ teams. But the Rams and Chargers aren’t going to be pathetic excuses for football teams forever (probably), so maybe things will improve, and this won’t end up being a giant embarrassment for the league. Though that wouldn’t be any fun at all.
  • This is all San Diego’s fault for refusing to give Spanos a new stadium! To football fans’ credit, this viewpoint mostly seems to be limited to NFL commissioner Roger Goodell, who released a “Hey, we tried” statement following the announcement of the Chargers’ move. There were plenty of city officials willing to talk to Spanos about a new or renovated stadium (though they were limited in how much public money they were willing to/able to provide for one), but between the owner’s demand that the city fork over the lion’s share of the costs and the time limit on the relocation clause that meant Spanos had to move to L.A. now if he ever wanted to, there wasn’t time to work on that.
  • Wait, the Chargers are going to play in a soccer stadium for two years?! Yup. On the bright side, see above about nobody wanting to see the team play right now anyway.
  • At least San Diego taxpayers can still watch the team on TV if they want, without having to pay $1.15 billion in tax money as well! Also yup.
  • Sports is a festering cesspool of greed and extortion, less about putting out a good product than about an arms race among owners to build opulent stadiums with other people’s money! Well, duh.

If there’s a silver lining for wannabe haters, it’s that unlike in the typical stadium controversy, this looks set to be a tragedy in the Shakespearean sense, where all the major players end up dead on the battlefield thanks to hubris or stupidity or what have you. The San Diego Chargers may be dead, but San Diego Chargers schadenfreude is just beginning.

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42 comments on “Chargers announce move to Los Angeles, all that’s left is deciding who to be the most mad at

  1. It sounds like a win for those opposed to public financing of stadiums. The Chargers won’t be getting taxpayer dough for their new digs and the government of San Diego can spend more time worrying about actual government type stuff. However, I believe there will be another push for a taxpayer-funded stadium in San Diego, as there was in all the other cities (except Los Angeles) that lost their “beloved teams.” There are teams out there playing in decrepit old stadiums that are approaching 15 or 20 years of age who would make good targets for the football-starved citizens of SD.

    1. The only way a California city will allow a taxpayer funded sports facility is if they have a totally incompetent mayor/council. Here’s looking at you Sacramento.

  2. Saw some journos and talking heads claim, in the aftermath of the move, that there are no winners in this whole saga. I couldn’t disagree more. The Padres have to be through the roof that they’ll now essentially have all of San Diego to themselves.

    1. Los Angeles wins too! Think of the new found prestige that they have by having *TWO* NFL teams! It’s really going to put Los Angeles on the map and make it a household name. Think of the tourism. Soon enough people may refer to it only by its initials!

    2. Totally.
      I’m just really happy for the taxpayers of San Diego & they finally stood up to the greedy NFL & firmly said no. Can L.A. handle two NFL teams? I really don’t care. Sports is just sports & the costs for them now are beyond stupid.
      Other winners in this are local San Diego businesses, which will also see an uptick in business; even if it’s only the slightest.

  3. A great summary of all (most?) of the possible opinions to have on this matter. All with some relative merit, depending on your perspective.

    Question though: Rather than being “stuck” in a soccer stadium for two years, is there a possibility this is a test run for the next generation of TV studios masquerading as NFL stadia?

    At some point one owner or another is going to realize that even though he doesn’t have to pay to build those unnecessary 40,000 relatively cheap seats (thanks to the taxpayers, who mostly can’t afford to rent them for 3.5 hours every other week either), he doesn’t make that much money off those cheapskate fans who won’t pay PSLs or buy a new $150 jersey every time he changes the design just so they will buy a new $150 team jersey.

    We’ve discussed at length on this site when and who might be the first to build a new stadium in the form of a tv studio with perhaps 30-35k (all club) seats. I really thought the Raiders might try it, but they probably lack the number of well heeled fans to fill 30,000 club seats and pay $20k PSLs.

    Could a second team in LA make that happen, if the stadium were located in a convenient spot for rich fans and had suitable precautions taken to keep relatively poor people away from them?

    You could pay for a 35k stadium and the land for an average PSL of $20k ($650-700m) and not even need the G-4 fund. If the average ticket price is in the $80-100 range, you generate at least $2.5m in gate per game (same as an avg of $30-35 in a more typically NFL sized stadium).

    AEG thoughtfully built their ‘soccer specific’ stadium to be fully compatible with the other kind of football (as, thoughtfully, have many other SSS builders…). I am sure most viewers (even occasional Galaxy watchers) have noticed there is a grass berm on one end where an upper deck featuring 5-8k more seats could be installed. While that doesn’t necessarily make it a permanent option, it could be the model for one.

    Spanos’ only option might not be to rent from Kroenke or build his own stadium, though I’m sure he’d rather be the owner than renting from either AEG or Kroenke.

    1. 20k seats is a little small, even for the brave new world of NFL fandom. Though I still think somebody should buy an NFL franchise and play all their games via Madden. No stadium costs *or* concussion lawsuits!

      1. It was 30-35k seats at a PSL price of $20k each, but yes, it is small (below what I understand the NFL “minimum allowable” is).

        As someone said about, though, it’s not impossible that the Chargers fail to sell out the 27,000 seat HDC (or whatever they are calling it these days)

    2. I would be mildly surprised if an NFL owner wanted to leave all of the money from $12 beers and $60 parking on the table. Plus, selling boxes in a 2 team market is always dicey because you either have to be a winner or cheaper than the other guy.

      It’s easier to ding taxpayers for an 80K seat stadium and then put cardboard around the unsold seats to avoid a TV blackout.

      1. True, but many of the cheaper seats are occupied by carpoolers (there oughtta be a law…) or, gasp, bus people. Not sure those who buy the last row of seats spend that much on beer while in the stadium either? The high revenue fan is what all modern sports cater to. It’s not here yet, but I believe the day will come when rank and file fans have no choice but to watch on tv and aren’t welcome in the stadium.

        Finally, no-one is dinging taxpayers the full cost for an 80k seat stadium in California. Other states, certainly, but California has resisted this trend. I suppose the city might be bullied into it, but then, they wouldn’t be funding one they’d be funding two (Kroenke is not going to welcome a second new stadium anywhere in the LA basin, and is certainly not going to accept paying for his own if someone else is getting tax dollars).

        The tv blackouts are a real issue for the NFL now that it is back in LA. Totally agree that a second team will make that much worse…

  4. I’m mad at Field of Schemes and its partner in crime, academia, for bamboozling so many uncurious people into thinking that NFL stadium subsidies are a waste of money.

    1. Hey, I would be the first to say that if you’d rather have the Chargers than $1.15 billion, go ahead and vote for the stadium. Though really, the wads of bills would be more entertaining to watch.

    2. I have to agree with Ben here. It doesn’t seem fair that the Chargers and the Rams will be playing in a new stadium without assistance from folks who have no interest in either team. If this keeps up, players may have to settle for $2 billion a year instead of $3 billion. And don’t get me started on how unfair this is to owners.

    3. Fuck off field of schems…the Sam Diego chargers and City Council Members both should have worked together the Chargers wanted to move downtown and the city wanted them to stay where they were at I felt they should have taken the money and rebuild Qualcomm and that would have been the resolution but I’m so tired of your anti public Stadium stamps Neil go suck one and don’t you dare cry about it b****

  5. There is a benefit to the Chargers moving to LA, the Raiders will be in town sometime during the season.

  6. I wonder if this is really over. Is it possible Spanos is pointing a gun at his own head (and playing it up like he’s in the running for an Oscar) in the hopes that the nfl owners start throwing money at him to stay?

    This is a Shakespearean tradegy if there ever was one and I can’t believe the NFL would let it this financial debacle play out.

    1. If he were going to do that, you’d think he would have done this at Wednesday’s meeting. The timing — and Spanos not even going to the meeting — reads more like this was set up beforehand as “Sorry, Dean, nothing we can do for you, do what you gotta do.”

      1. You are probably right. Certainly the one thing keeping the NFL from begging Spanos to re-think his move and throwing money his way is the reduction of leverage the NFL would have in future stadium extortion attempts.

  7. Neil, it’s not credible for you to repeat the fake news $550 million relocation fee amount while ignoring the LATimes’ alleged sweetheart stadium lease terms for the second team.

    The lease terms for the Chargers are reportedly $1 annual rent, they keep 100% of their game-day revenues, and 18% of all non game-day revenues including naming rights, both team’s luxury suite sales, and all non football events. Allegedly Spanos isn’t paying rent and is receiving a cut of revenues that don’t exist in San Diego.

    You are portraying a false narrative accepting the negative rumors as truth while ignoring the positive rumors.

    1. It’s not “fake news” when unnamed sources report something and we can’t confirm it. It’s just unconfirmed news, which is why I said “reportedly.”

      And you’re misconstruing those lease terms: That’s the one for the option where Spanos puts up cash up front to help pay for construction costs. If he doesn’t, he has to put up a share of stadium revenues instead.

      I should also note that the article you’re citing cites precisely zero sources itself. Not that that makes it wrong, but it’s no more verified than the $550 million relocation fee number:

      1. Sorry, correction: The $1 lease above is the one where Spanos puts up a share of naming rights and PSL money. That’s why he’d only be left with 18% of those:

        I note that that article also reports the $550 million relocation fee figure.

        1. Has anybody seen any reporting on how the Rams and Chargers would split operating costs?

        2. 100% of PSL revenue must go towards stadium construction by NFL rules. No difference here.

          Allegedly Spanos gets to pocket 18% of revenues he would never get in San Diego. 100% of the revenue from PSLs, naming rights, and luxury suites wouldn’t have ever been close to enough to cover the Chargers’ stadium costs in San Diego.

          I know including the alleged sweet heart lease terms goes against your narrative but it’s disingenuous for you to leave them out when you mention the alleged relocation fee. Now you incorrectly say a team gets to pocket PSLS revenue which they don’t.

    2. We do know from last year’s NFL G-2A Resolution that all of the owners not just Kroenke set the financial terms of the lease.

      1. Actually, G-2A said that Kroenke and his tenant team would set the terms, just that they had to be “generally consistent” with what had been discussed at the NFL meeting approving the Rams’ move:

        1. Wow, you really are disingenuous. The quote is “agreed-upon and approved financial terms”. All the owners set the lease terms not Kroenke.

          1. I do not think that word “disingenuous” means what you think it means.

            Here’s the exact phrasing from G2-A, for those who can’t be bothered to click through:

            “with the new stadium at Hollywood Park to be constructed on a basis that permits two NFL teams to operate on an equal basis with respect to scheduling, access to facilities, and agreed-upon and approved financial terms generally consistent with the options presented to the member clubs on January 12, 2016”

  8. From “The (1960) Los Angeles Chargers are among eight teams in the new rival American Football League. In their first game on September 10th they overcome a 20-7 in the 4th Quarter to beat the Dallas Texans 21-20 before 17,724 fans at the Los Angeles Coliseum……….The season would turn out to be the only one in Los Angeles as small crowds at the Coliseum, led to the Chargers moving down the coast to San Diego.”

    Will history repeat?

    1. It’s possible, Tim.

      Like JC said above, it’s hard to imagine Spanos genuinely thinking he’d be better off as the second (tenant) team in Kroenke’s stadium in a city that so far doesn’t seem to care very much for it’s first team (and one it had for much longer than the Chargers). My guess would be support for the Chargers will lag a good deal behind the Rams’ – many of us have memories of Olson, Jones, Grier, or Cromwell, Youngblood etc.

      Is anyone really clinging to their memories of the Chargers one season in town?

      Time will tell.

      I would put it this way, I will not be shocked if we learn in six months or so that a “superhuman” effort has been launched to “save” the Chargers in San Diego, and that Spanos is not moving to LA after all.

      Sure, it would be a shameless shakedown and make him look dishonest. Those are positives for owners, right?

      1. Quick question John: do we know for sure if the NFL is restoring the television blackout rules for next season? I am actually hoping that the league does this so that it embarrasses Spanos when the Stubhub Center in Carson fails to sell out.

        “Will history repeat?”

        I think it will. Most in Los Angeles don’t want the Chargers in their city. During the Lakers @ Clippers game last Saturday at the Staples Center when the Chargers were mentioned, most of those in attendance booed.

        It’s very possible that the Chargers move back to San Diego within 5 years. However, it will have to be 100% private money (or very close) towards a new stadium or a renovated Qualcomm. Plus, a new owner would go a long way.

        1. I don’t know the answer to that Matt. I would assume it wasn’t tested this year because the Rams sold plenty of tickets (though a good proportion seemed to go unused later in an admittedly pathetic season).

          Anyone else know for sure?

  9. For background information, the NFL suspended their television blackout rules for the 2015 & 2016 seasons. After doing a Google search, I guess that we will find out in late March.

  10. Good article from Thomas Brandt on

    The Five Myths of NFL Relocations

    Myth #1: Fans truly matter
    Myth #2: Ticket sales truly matter
    Myth #3: “Solution” = Self-funding
    Myth #4: A next frontier?
    Myth #5: Revenue isn’t the most important thing

  11. The franchise value point is the one that is HIGHLY questionable. Historically, team values get driven up by having a brand new stadium handed to them. The Chargers own nothing in LA. I don’t doubt that the value could go up considerably IF THE TEAM WAS POPULAR but they’re not off to a great start on that front.

    Very easy to imagine a situation where they don’t ever connect well with LA fans, attendance and all other metrics are poor, Spanos decides to sell and the new owner’s first order of business would be deciding if the team needed to relocate out of LA. That could definitely depress the value of the franchise–particularly if there wasn’t a city who looked like a great fit willing to hand them a new stadium.

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