The Chargers want out of San Diego. As much as they claim to have concerns over the environmental impact of the new proposed stadium in San Diego, or say they are applying to move to the Los Angeles area only to protect their market, it’s obvious the Spanos family would rather own the Los Angeles Chargers than own the San Diego Chargers. The Chargers aren’t the only team that is vying for a move to LA though, and that might be the only source of hope left for local Chargers fans that don’t want to see their team move away from San Diego.
Three owners currently want to move their team to the Los Angeles market, and while there is precedent for two NFL teams to share the same market, and for two franchises in the same sport to share Los Angeles, neither precedent exists for three teams.
However, three hockey teams play in the New York City area, with the Rangers in Manhattan, Islanders now in Brooklyn, and the Devils in nearby Newark, New Jersey. But New York is different than LA, and hockey is different from football. Hockey fan bases are typically small but very passionate, and teams in the NHL have business models that are adapted to that. The Chargers, Raiders and Rams certainly aren’t looking for a small portion of the LA market. So if there is indeed only room for one or two NFL teams in LA, someone will be left out.
As it stands there are two potential new stadiums that could be built, with Stan Kroenke pursuing a stadium in Inglewood intended for the Rams, and the Spanos family combining forces with Mark Davis to pursue a stadium in Carson meant to be shared by the Chargers and Raiders. The decision on which team(s) move to LA might indeed depend on which stadium plan the rest of the owners in the NFL prefer.
To that point, in August it was reported that Jerry Jones preferred the Inglewood stadium, and it’s quite possible that other owners agree with him. The case for Inglewood is largely a case for Stan Kroenke, or rather Kroenke’s money. According to Forbes.com, he is currently worth $7.7 Billion, and with that kind of wealth he can fund a state of the art stadium by himself, wherever he wants. He personally bought the land in Inglewood intended for the stadium. These things don’t bode well for St. Louis fans that don’t want to see the Rams leave.
However, just like the Rams owner is in the best position compared to the other two owners trying to move to Los Angeles, St. Louis is also in the best position compared to the other two cities trying to prevent their teams from leaving. Plans for a new stadium in St. Louis are about a year ahead of plans for a new San Diego stadium, while Oakland seems to just be starting a last ditch effort of their own to keep the Raiders. If NFL owners decide they don’t want to see an NFL team playing in a baseball stadium anymore, the fact that Oakland is furthest away from building a new football stadium might give the Carson plan an advantage.
Another thing that might give the Carson plan an advantage is Disney CEO Bob Iger coming on board as an advisor. With Iger on board, the battle to build a new stadium in LA is interestingly positioned as a battle between Stan Kroenke and his money, against a coalition consisting of two NFL teams and the Disney CEO.
Like something out of Game of Thrones, it’s Kroenke and his Lannister-like wealth, versus House Spanos, House Davis and House Disney with the winner gaining a seat on the throne that is the lucrative LA market. While it may have seemed like a sure thing that Kroenke would get his way earlier on in this process, the Carson alternative has gained enough traction that the NFL owners currently don’t have a consensus as to which option is preferable. And that lack of consensus might be the best source for hope for fans in San Diego. The Chargers have played the game better than San Diego mayor Kevin Faulconer, as every time Faulconer has good news to announce, like an actual stadium proposal, or good vibes from the meeting in New York, the Chargers announce things like their own stadium plan, or the addition of the CEO of Disney to the Carson project.
These things make it obvious that the Chargers aren’t just “protecting their market” by applying for relocation, or have genuine concerns about the environmental impact of the new stadium in San Diego. Maybe they do care about the environment, but they care more about moving north. Alas, it appears that the best hope for football in San Diego is that the NFL owners don’t know what to do yet and could vote in favor of the Inglewood stadium, which could exclude the Chargers from being able to move to LA.