The Chargers plan to announce as early as Thursday that they are moving to Los Angeles, league sources said, ending a 55-year stint with San Diego and returning to their birthplace.
The Chargers played their inaugural season in Los Angeles in 1960 before moving to San Diego in 1961.
The Chargers have notified NFL commissioner Roger Goodell and other league owners of their intent to move to Los Angeles for the 2017 season, sources said.
But as one league source cautioned Wednesday night, Chargers chairman Dean Spanos had yet to send a formal relocation letter to the NFL or notify public officials in Los Angeles or San Diego of the team’s move, or even tell the members of the San Diego organization about his plans. The source insisted nothing is final.
But unless Spanos unexpectedly changes his mind at the last moment — and there certainly have been enough plot twists in this San Diego stadium saga — the Chargers will be moving to Los Angeles.
A team employee told the Associated Press that the Chargers have scheduled an 11 a.m. ET staff meeting for Thursday, the topic of which hadn’t been divulged.
“At first I hoped it was fake news. It’s something that is unfathomable, but it is reality,” Chargers great Dan Fouts said of the move.
This is said to have been an extremely difficult decision for Spanos to reach, sources said. While the economics of the decision have been clear, Spanos’ loyalty and connection to San Diego have countered it. But in the end, Spanos’ efforts to find a new stadium are now in their 16th year, with no solution in sight. This stalemate is occurring at a time when the Rams are becoming more established in the Los Angeles market. Spanos is said to believe he needs to start fighting for the Los Angeles market as soon as possible, according to sources.
As of Wednesday night, the Chargers’ intent was to become the second team in less than a year to move to Los Angeles, giving the city two NFL teams after it went more than two decades without having one.
Chargers wideout Keenan Allen told ESPN’s Josina Anderson of the expected move: “It’s different to hear the Los Angeles Chargers, but it should be dope.”
Added Chargers defensive tackle Corey Liuget to Anderson: “More than anything I’m shocked. I didn’t think it was going to happen. I thought we were going to stay in San Diego … I thought something would’ve got done and worked out … So I guess L.A. is out new home then.”
The Chargers applied for relocation to Los Angeles last year, but the franchise’s proposed stadium project with the Oakland Raiders in Carson, California, was voted down in favor of Rams owner Stan Kroenke’s project, a $2.66 billion stadium in Inglewood scheduled to open in 2019.
The Chargers have not announced where they would play home games in the interim the next two seasons. A possible — if not likely — destination next year is the StubHub Center in Carson, where the MLS’ Los Angeles Galaxy play. The stadium holds about 27,000 and could be expanded by 3,000 to 30,000.
In December, the Chargers announced they had entered into an agreement to lease land for a temporary training facility in Orange County, should it exercise the Jan. 15 option (one the NFL extended to Jan. 17) to move to Los Angeles. The Chargers agreed to lease part of a Costa Mesa office campus along with a nearby 3.2 acres for temporary offices and a practice facility. The land in Costa Mesa would serve as the initial location of the team’s office headquarters and practice and training facilities.
San Diego mayor Kevin Faulconer’s last-ditch proposal to keep the team there was a projected $1.2 billion new stadium in Mission Valley — current site of Qualcomm Stadium — which included a potential $375 million in public contribution. However, there remained a $175 million gap in funding after the NFL and Chargers contributed $650 million, and the Chargers had reservations that a vote for public funding would not pass in San Diego, along with potential environmental and legal entanglements at the Mission Valley site.
The Chargers received just 43 percent support in November on the team’s $1.8 billion downtown stadium and convention center annex that proposed raising the city’s hotel tax to help fund the project.
Sources said a news conference to announce the move is tentatively scheduled for next Wednesday in Los Angeles.
Information from ESPN’s Jim Trotter, Eric Williams and Ramona Shelburne was used in this report.