City and county leaders react to Chargers moving to Los Angeles

SAN DIEGO (KUSI) — Ending years of negotiations and questions about the team’s future, Chargers chairman Dean Spanos announced Thursday the team will leave San Diego after more than half a century and move north to the Los Angeles area beginning this fall.

Spanos announced the move in a letter posted on the team’s website. The Chargers will become the second team in the Los Angeles region along with the Rams, and will share a stadium being built for the Rams in Inglewood, a city abutting Los Angeles.

"San Diego has been our home for 56 years. It will always be part of our identity, and my family and I have nothing but gratitude and appreciation for the support and passion our fans have shared with us over the years,” Spanos said. "But today, we turn the page and begin an exciting new era as the Los Angeles Chargers.”

While the Inglewood stadium is under construction, the Chargers will play their home games at the roughly 30,000-seat StubHub Center in Carson in Los Angeles County. The stadium is home to the Los Angeles Galaxy of Major League Soccer.

Spanos noted the Chargers’ inaugural season in 1960 was played in Los Angeles and while the team has had fans there since, the Chargers have "a tremendous amount of work to do” to earn the respect and support of Los Angeles  football fans.

"We must get back to winning,” Spanos said. "And, we must make a meaningful contribution, not just on the field, but off the field as a leader and champion for the community. The Chargers are determined to fight for LA and we are excited to get started.”

The announcement came one day after Spanos was given until Tuesday to decide whether to remain in San Diego or move the team to Los Angeles. The two-day extension was granted by team owners on the stadium and finance committees who met in New York to discuss stadium situations in San Diego and Oakland, home of the Raiders.

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said the team "worked tirelessly this past year with local officials and community leaders on a ballot initiative that fell short on election day. That work — and the years of effort that preceded it — reflects our strongly held belief we always should do everything we can to keep a franchise in its community. That’s why we have a deliberate and thoughtful process for making these decisions.”

Political leaders in San Diego disputed Goodell’s claim in a news conference. Mayor Kevin Faulconer said the Chargers rejected every offer, including one made just a few weeks ago.

"At the end of the day, the Chargers wanted a lot more taxpayer money than we could ever agree to,” Faulconer said.

"We could not support a deal that is not in the best interest of San Diego,” the mayor said. "Dean Spanos made a bad decision and he will regret it. San Diego didn’t lose the Chargers. The Chargers just lost San Diego.”

Other area officials were harsher in their assessments.

City Councilman Scott Sherman said the ownership was a problem throughout the whole process, and they never gave a straight answer to anything.

"(Chargers stadium counsel) Mark Fabiani and Dean Spanos have tirelessly worked behind the scenes to subvert every single action of the City Council and this mayor have done to try and put something on the table to try and keep the Chargers here,” Sherman said.

San Diego State University President Elliot Hirshman, who helped craft a last-ditch offer to Spanos, said countless good-faith discussions were held on the stadium issue.

"Unfortunately, we didn’t have a good faith partner,” Hirshman said, referring to the Chargers.

SDSU stands to benefit from the team’s departure through redevelopment of the Qualcomm Stadium site, which college officials have eyed for years for expansion. The site could also hold a new stadium for the Aztecs football program, as well as a professional soccer team.

The decision climaxing the Chargers’ long-running search for a new playing facility came two months after the defeat of Measure C, which would have raised hotel room taxes to provide the public portion of the cost of building a downtown stadium. Because of the tax increase, the ballot measure required two-thirds approval to pass, but it failed to even get a simple majority.

San Diego City Councilman Chris Cate, who led the opposition to Measure C, said he didn’t find the announcement surprising.

"I do not find the Chargers announcement to relocate to Los Angeles surprising. It became apparent in 2015 that the Chargers preferred Los Angeles, as they continued to show unwillingness to negotiate a potential stadium deal here in San Diego, and with their recent action to execute a lease for anew headquarters and practice facility outside of the city. I accept the Chargers decision and understand that they believed this action was the best financial decision for their business. This will no doubt be a difficult time for lifelong Chargers fans. My focus will now turn to finding a long term vision for the Mission Valley site that will be in the best interest of San Diegans."

On Twitter, Supervisor Ron Roberts, who led county efforts to find a new home for the team, said, "The Chargers will stand next to Donald Sterling in the Hall of Shame. It hurts, but we will move on. San Diego is a great community.”

Sterling is the former owner of the San Diego Clippers who moved that franchise to Los Angeles in the 1980s.

Former Chargers safety Eric Weddle also wrote on Twitter: "Chargers leaving is TERRIBLE. Sad day for everyone who supported the Chargers. City and people are amazing. SD will always be my home!!!”

In a statement, San Diego Padres Executive Chairman Ron Fowler and Managing Partner Peter Seidler said they were "deeply disappointed” by the news.

"The Chargers are a community treasure, and we have always believed that San Diego is better off with the team here,” they said. "That said, we know San Diego will continue to grow and become an even more vibrant community.”

Even though the team will play in a neighboring city, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti seemed ecstatic at the news.

County Supervisor Dianne Jacob on today’s Chargers news:

"While I will miss the players and their contributions to the community, all I can say to Mr. Spanos is good riddance. He betrayed San Diego fans and that’s something a lot of us won’t ever forget. I think we now have an opportunity to turn the Qualcomm Stadium site into a regional attraction we can all be proud of, with perhaps a world-class entertainment and sports complex, facilities for San Diego State and park space to make the most of its riverside location."

"Los Angeles is one of the world’s great sports towns. Championship teams and iconic athletes aren’t just memories here — they are legends woven into the fabric of our history. Today, we welcome an important part of that history back with the Chargers returning to Los Angeles,” the mayor said in a statement.

"L.A. already has more visitors than ever before. The Chargers will make our NFL tradition even richer, and give sports fans everywhere one more
reason to be in Los Angeles. I congratulate Dean Spanos and the entire Chargers organization, and look forward to the extraordinary contributions they will make to our entire region.”

Added Inglewood Mayor James T. Butts in an interview with KNX 1070: "We’re ecstatic.”

The Chargers also unveiled a logo with a white, italicized LA on a field of dark Dodger blue, with the base of the L in the form a lightning bolt.

Goodell expressed sympathy for Charger fans, noting their "strong and loyal support” for the team over the past half-century.

"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,” he said.

Categories: Local San Diego News