Chargers bolt San Diego to become second NFL team in Los Angeles
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[January 13, 2017]
By Alex Dobuzinskis
LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - The San Diego
Chargers said on Thursday they will move to Los Angeles this
upcoming NFL season, ending sometimes tense negotiations for a new
stadium in the city where the sports franchise has played for more
than five decades.
Starting this fall, the Los Angeles area will have two National
Football League teams in a potential boost to the region's leisure
and tourism industry. The nation's second-largest city had no NFL
team from 1994 until the St. Louis Rams moved and began playing
there last year.
The Chargers played their first season in Los Angeles in 1960 before
moving to San Diego the following year. Team owner Dean Spanos said
in an open letter on the team's website San Diego had shaped the
"But today, we turn the page and begin an exciting new era as the
Los Angeles Chargers," Spanos wrote.
In November, San Diego voters rejected a ballot measure that would
have raised hotel occupancy taxes to help pay for a proposed $1.8
billion downtown stadium project.
The team and its supporters have actively sought a new stadium for
about a decade and Spanos for a time negotiated with city officials
over the proposal. But talks between the team and city officials
appeared to hit a standstill in 2015.
"As difficult as the news is for Charger fans, I know Dean Spanos
and his family did everything they could to try to find a viable
solution in San Diego," NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said in a
The Chargers will pay the NFL a relocation fee of $550 million
upfront or $650 million if paid over 10 years, team spokeswoman
Jennifer Rojas said.
Following news of the move, city officials said it was time to move
"At the end of the day, Dean Spanos was never willing to work with
us on a stadium solution and demanded a lot more money than we could
have ever agreed to," Mayor Kevin Falconer said in a statement. "San
Diego didn't lose the Chargers, the Chargers lost San Diego."
reluctance of San Diego officials and residents in recent years to
provide public funds for a stadium was unusual for a U.S. city, said
David Carter, executive director of the Sports Business Institute at
the University of Southern California.
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San Diego Chargers' President and Chief Executive Dean Spanos wears
a headset during an interview at the NFL team's headquarters in San
Diego, California January 9, 2013. REUTERS/Mike Blake
Some in San Diego vented their dissatisfaction. A video posted
online by a San Diego Union-Tribune reporter showed fans dumping
team gear, including jerseys, in a big pile in front of the team's
headquarters. When a giant toy helmet was dropped off, a man smashed
it with a bat.
Going forward, the Chargers will have a more difficult time
attracting fans than the Rams, who were based in the Los Angeles
area until 1994, Carter said in a phone interview.
The Chargers will temporarily play at the 30,000-seat StubHub Center
in the Los Angeles suburb of Carson, the team said. Its current
stadium in San Diego seats about 71,000 people.
Last month, the franchise made preparations for the impending
relocation, leasing a portion of an Orange County office facility.
The Chargers said they will eventually join the Rams at a futuristic
$2.6 billion stadium, which will be built by Rams' owner Stan
Kroenke in the Los Angeles suburb of Inglewood and is projected to
open in 2019.
(Reporting by Alex Dobuzinskis, Additional reporting by Steve
Keating in Toronto, Ben Klayman in Detroit and Melissa Fares in New
York, Editing by Alan Crosby and Richard Chang)
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