The Bolts are bolting, it would appear.
According to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, the San Diego Chargers are planning to announce this week, and as early as Thursday, that they are moving to Los Angeles. The Chargers had been in San Diego since the AFL days starting in 1961, moving from L.A. following the franchise’s inaugural season of 1960.
The report says that Chargers have told NFL commissioner Roger Goodell and other NFL owners of their intent to move for the 2017 season, but Chargers chairman Dean Spanos has yet to send a formal relocation letter to the NFL. Spanos also hasn’t formally informed public officials in either city of the team’s plans, so there’s a chance — albeit remote — that he could change his course last minute.
But given that Spanos and the franchise have been seeking a new stadium for parts of two frustrating decades, all signs strongly point to a move.
Even amid all the talk for more than a year that the team could leave San Diego, the timing is surprising considering that the NFL did not want to have a team relocation occur during the divisional playoff weekend. That’s why the league pushed back the franchise’s deadline to move from this Sunday to next Tuesday, following Monday’s national holiday for Martin Luther King Day.
The NFL owners who make up the league’s stadium and finance committees met in New York City on Wednesday, and it was notable that the Chargers did not attend the meeting, nor did the owners spend much of the 3.5-hour meeting discussing the situation. Most of the time was spent by the committees discussing the Oakland Raiders and their possible move to Las Vegas, which might have indicated that the NFL knew what was coming from Spanos.
Despite the extension that was granted the team apparently will make its intentions known soon. It likely will come prior to San Diego mayor Kevin Faulconer giving his State of the City address Thursday night.
The Chargers’ moves prior to now have suggested the team was preparing to relocate, but there was still hope for a Hail Mary pass to keep the franchise in place. But the Chargers secured a location for a temporary training facility just outside L.A. in Costa Mesa in December, and the city’s 11th-hour pitch to keep the team — a projected $1.2 billion stadium to be built on the current site of Qualcomm Stadium — clearly wasn’t enough. Public funds would have come in the form of $375 million for the deal that apparently will never happen now, and there were no indications that the league planned to increase its pledge over the $300 million it has offered to help bridge the funding gap for a stadium.
So the Chargers return to their roots where the franchise was founded, but it will be crowded there with the Rams having just relocated last year from St. Louis and receiving tepid TV ratings for their first season. Both the Chargers and Rams are coming off losing seasons in which their head coaches were fired, and both jobs remain open.
The NFL had been out of Los Angeles for more than 20 years, but with the Rams and Chargers now there, two teams might be a crowd.