Owners of the San Diego Chargers have informed NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell of their intention to relocate the franchise to Los Angeles for the 2017 season and beyond, ESPN and other news outlets reported late Wednesday.
The relocation plan is not yet finalized, according to ESPN, and the Chargers have not yet determined where in the Los Angeles area they will play next season. But Chargers owner Dean Spanos is widely expected to put the finishing touches on the move in the coming days and will reportedly inform Chargers staff of those plans Thursday morning.
The move will bring an end to the Chargers’ 55-year run in San Diego, which they have called home for every season of their existence except the first, when they played in Los Angeles. And after more than two decades without an NFL franchise, Los Angeles will now have two. The Rams returned there from St. Louis before the 2016 season.
The Chargers attempted to beat the Rams to L.A. but were thwarted last season when NFL owners chose the Rams’ stadium proposal over an alternate plan in which the Chargers and Oakland Raiders would have shared a new venue. That process, however, included an option for the Chargers to relocate to Los Angeles before the 2017 season and share the new stadium the Rams are building in Inglewood. The franchise has until Tuesday to exercise that option.
Spanos and the Chargers had been seeking a new stadium in San Diego and were asking for a significant public subsidy in order to get one. Voters in November overwhelmingly rejected a ballot measure that would have devoted more than $1 billion in taxpayer money toward the stadium and a surrounding project.
Spanos and San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer continued to seek an alternative deal after the measure failed at the polls. The latest plan would have required at least $375 million in public money. NFL owners had also been considering ways to help the Chargers remain in San Diego during their meetings in New York this week but were apparently unable to develop a plan convincing enough to make the team stay.
So unless something changes at the last minute, it appears the Chargers will head north to Los Angeles instead of trying yet again to persuade San Diego taxpayers to help pay for a new stadium.
The Chargers might not be the only team to relocate this offseason. The Oakland Raiders are still seeking approval from NFL owners for a move to Las Vegas, which has plans to build a stadium that will receive $750 million in taxpayer financing. NFL owners could vote on that possible move in March.