Today, January 12th, 2017, is a day that will live in infamy. That date in the sports world will forever represent when the San Diego Chargers, a revered and strongly supported football team with possibly the greatest theme song ever, announced their plans to move down the road to Los Angeles. The Chargers’ loss to the then 0-14 Browns may have seemed like the worst loss by any team in years, but this announcement is exponentially worse. This is a move driven only by money and makes everyone losers, from fans to the team to the league.
San Diego Fans
First, the obvious. Nothing stinks more than a team moving out of town, not even losing to the Browns. Now, San Diego fans, some of the most loyal in football, are left with only baseball’s Padres, who haven’t made the playoffs in a decade. In 56 years in San Diego, though the Chargers failed to deliver a Super Bowl, they played many memorable games, from LaDainian Tomlinson’s 31-touchdown season to Kellen Winslow’s epic playoff game to the lone Super Bowl appearance in the 1994 season.
I’d consider myself a Chargers fan, definitely not a die-hard but still a person who enjoys seeing the Chargers win. But for this article, I’ll categorize myself in the category of general football fans. Los Angeles Chargers doesn’t sound right, and sending two bad teams to Los Angeles seems like it will be a disaster. San Diego should have a football team and without a new stadium, San Diego Super Bowls could be a thing of the past. But even more importantly, the Chargers’ powder blue alternate is the best uniform in football history, maybe even sports history, and San Diego, er… Los Angeles, is switching to royal blue and white. That is a crime.
Owner Dean Spanos did what he could to get money for a new stadium, but while the Chargers could get a financial boost from the move, the short-term product will suffer. We saw the toll the move from St. Louis to Los Angeles took on the Rams, a perennial factory of sadness, so the Chargers should expect little different. This Chargers team is one that has losses in the double-digits in the last two seasons and just fired their head coach. Yes, the Chargers won’t have to move far, but the Charger fan base in Los Angeles is minimal and the new stadium that the Chargers will move into until the Rams-Chargers mega-stadium is finished seats only 30,000. It’s a tough climb up into the playoffs for the Chargers, and it’s only getting tougher.
Did Los Angeles want a football team? My guess is they didn’t care for one, as San Diego was only a couple hours South and a total of five pro teams already occupied the city. Did Los Angeles want two football teams? No, they didn’t. And did Los Angeles want two mediocre teams that have combined for four playoff appearances in the last ten years (and all from the Chargers). Football’s going to be a footnote in Los Angeles, and with San Diego having such a dedicated fanbase, it makes the move even more of a shame.
Money is the motivator in the NFL and the relocation to Los Angeles was based on money. I don’t think that two NFL teams in Los Angeles is going to work, especially with two mediocre teams with controversial and dysfunctional ownership. As stated before, the league loses out on San Diego Super Bowls, and now teams can’t threaten to move to LA during stadium negotiations (though this tactic was probably finished when the Rams moved). If the NFL was really as dedicated to the fans as they claim they are, they’d ensure that the Chargers stayed in San Diego.
Then Why Did the Chargers Move?
The blame goes all around. Owner Dean Spanos didn’t want to pay for the stadium out of his own pockets, and his efforts to get funding from the city fell short when the tax measure to fund the stadium failed on the ballot last fall. Though the NFL offered a reported $350 million to help pay for the stadium, other owners wouldn’t give any financial aid to Spanos. When the Rams moved to Los Angeles with a proposal for a state-of-the-art stadium, they extended an offer for the Chargers to move in with them that lasted from last January to next Tuesday. With the idea of a stadium in San Diego far from reality, Spanos told the other owners and later his organization that the Chargers were relocating to Los Angeles.
Hopefully the Los Angeles experiment works and proves me wrong. But I’d wouldn’t be surprised if it is a long couple years for the Chargers and Rams in Los Angeles. Correction: Loss Angeles.