Written by: Christopher Dagostino – Staff Writing Intern (@Mighty_Dag)
After over half a century in San Diego, team chairman Dean Spanos has formally announced that the Chargers will move to Los Angeles, effective for the 2017 NFL season. Spanos explained the move in a formal letter, stating
“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. But today, we turn the page and begin an exciting new era as the Los Angeles Chargers…”
He said this after San Diego voters rejected a motion asking for 1.15 billion in increased hotel occupancy taxes to help fund a downtown stadium.
The move comes as a surprise, as one year to date the Rams made their move official to Los Angeles. Many life long San Diego fans are angered by the news, which is understandable for a loyal fan base that has endured only one Super Bowl win and has cheered on team greats such as Dan Fouts, Kellen Winslow, and Junior Seau.
It is not that the Charger officials did not work with community leaders to try to keep the team in San Diego, merely the people did not want to pay for renovations for a new stadium as a ballot initiative fell short this past year. The Chargers have sought to develop a solution to upgrade Qualcomm Stadium, but the Chargers did not like Mayor Kevin Faulconer’s recommendation and walked away from negotiations. After giving the option to move to LA after NFL owners rejected a proposed shared stadium proposal between the Chargers and Oakland Raiders, the Chargers accepted the Ram’s plan to share the new stadium project in Inglewood, California.
Currently, the Chargers are slated to play their games in Los Angeles at Stubhub Center, a 30,000 seat capacity stadium that currently holds MLS games for the Los Angeles Galaxy. This will be quite unique and interesting for an NFL stadium to hold so few seats but will offer a more intimate up close fan experience.
Typically, an average NFL stadium holds around at least 70,000 seats. The Chargers finished dead last in attendance last season averaging 57,024 fans per game per NFL attendance metric in 2016. So clearly, a 30,000 seat stadium really seems sub optimal for NFL standards.
Someone not happy with the decision is Chargers franchise quarterback Phillip Rivers, who explained the awkwardness of the state of the franchise during move talks “It’s hard to reenact a goodbye which is what we thought it was last year. It’s hard to do it again,” Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers said after the team’s Week 17 loss, via ESPN’s Arash Markanzi. “It’s like leaving at the airport and you say your goodbyes then the plane gets delayed. You can go back and say it again or say you’re already driving away.”
The Chargers unveiled their new logo subsequent with it’s move to Los Angeles, that looks extremely close to the Dodgers logo with a sideways lightning bolt. Public interest in the team admittedly will be very high, considering Los Angeles sports fan have no problem packing stadiums and selling tickets.
If the lowly Rams can average over 80,000 fans per game in it’s first season, the Chargers will have an immediate interest drawn to them. The team will have a fresh new look to it in a new city while the team searches for a replacement for Mike McCoy. With a 10 million NFL initiative granted last season to entice the Chargers to develop a solution, it seems that the Chargers had already turned focus to capturing the Los Angeles market.