For many, this move to LA has been comically mishandled. Because of that, it was tough to ever believe that the move would be real. Eventually, we realized that, indeed, the Chargers were picking up their toys and heading to LA. Millions across the country immediately began the 5 stages of grief.
Denial- this is just a river in Africa, they aren’t really going to waste that much money to rent from someone else.
Anger- LET’S BURN EVERY JERSEY THAT HAS A HINT OF BLUE ON IT.
Bargaining- Let’s look at this with level heads. What if we buy all the moving vans.. No, let’s get the politicians to block the… hmm, what if we raised the money to buy the team before they left?
Depression- This is the worst thing that could’ve ever happened; worse than 4th and 29. This is the worst franchise ever, and I’ve been a sucker for liking them at all. There was never any hope for San Diego and there will never be another team there again.
Acceptance- The Spanos family never really did negotiate in good faith. The team has been itching to move to greener pastures for over a decade, and there’s just no way to counter the greedy mov-WAIT, WHAT’S THAT, TWITTER??
I knew it, I knew it!! This has been such a disaster that there’s no way they can continue this failed endeavor! HALLELUJAH!
“Ho-ooold on there, Baba-Looey..“
First, let’s place a few biases right on the table. I will be the first one to say that I will gladly click a link that adds credence to the Chargers returning to San Diego. It’s what I want, it’s what you want, and it’s what makes the most emotional sense for the franchise and both cities involved. I do think that Dean Spanos hopes to sell the team, but I do not think that that will occur in the immediate future.
The reality of the situation is that a move for a franchise is wrought with red tape and burned bridges. The Chargers already have contracts with facilities, concessionaires, media outlets, personnel, and, of course, the NFL and Stan Kroenke to contend with. They have made a clear and expensive effort to cut such ties with San Diego and formulate new ones with LA.
More importantly, the move has guaranteed the NFL (owners) 650 million dollars over the next 10 years. That’s not insignificant. The Rams will receive $200 million from the Chargers to help finance their shared stadium.
Moving back to San Diego wouldn’t nullify those $850 million in debts. In fact, all things being equal, it would amount to $1.45 billion in debts if things were played out in standard fashion. The ink is dry.
As things currently stand, 31 NFL owners will enjoy a sweet $21 million bonus due to the Chargers’ jump north.
“Now, c’mon son, I say-I say, there must be some good news!”
The move to LA has been a serious case of buyers regret. The stands are empty, the fans are staying home, and the Chargers are largely a laughing stock. They were not welcomed as victors, and the promised influx of cash has been less than mountainous. This team is currently being floated directly on income from the media contract that the NFL shares between its teams. That amounts to around $250 million at the moment. Merchandise is also a nice buffer, but ticket sales aren’t much more than a bake sale right now (though, I hear parking is racking up the big bucks!). If the team sold out their stadium (they haven’t) at the near-lowest asking price of $200 a ticket, they are pooling in an additional $5 million or so per game. After paying all of the people, 3rd parties, and advertisers, there’s not a lot left to pocket. It might even be a loss, but we won’t know those numbers for a long while (if ever!).
The light at the end of the tunnel, in Dean Spanos’ mind, is the shiny new stadium that he’ll share with the Rams. If you build it, they will come.
Well, the league is coming to realize that there really isn’t much demand in LA after all. Sure, things could turn around, but right now things are rather dire. It is proving to be a black eye for the league in a number of ways: The NFL just furthers its reputation as a monstrous, money-grabbing beast. The LA experiment is failing, and two spurned cities aren’t good for business (with a third on the way). Finally, the jump of two teams into the LA media market doesn’t increase the league’s value one bit; the non-sports-fans of LA would either be converted by one home team or never be converted at all. This point pales in comparison to those former loyal viewers who tune out in San Diego and St Louis. In short, the more eyes on football, the more money each owner stands to make. San Diego is one of the largest metropolitan areas in the country, and the value of those potential viewers has been diminished greatly with a net-status-quo in Los Angeles.
These are businessmen, however. There is still the potential of converting more of the LA base. The damage has already been largely done, and they won’t know the potential increase until the new stadium is ready in 2020. This Chargers move can still be a win for them, and they are inclined to let it play out and reap the potential rewards of 21 million (relocation) and a net increase in viewership in LA. The early returns are poor, and they do not indicate that the two-team plan will do that any better than one team would, but you don’t grow a multi-billion dollar empire by panicking early.
All indications are that the league will let the cards fall where they may. It would be a monumental move for them to force a change in ownership or relocation without a huge slip-up (racist rant from the owner, terrible scandal, etc) that they could use to deflect any heat and be perceived as the good guys.
For this moment in time, however—
P.S. – Do not despair! Just because it’s unlikely doesn’t mean that the move back to San Diego is impossible! It’s also unlikely that the Chargers would be 1-9 in their last 10 games, but here we are!
Check back to the second part of this article (coming up soon!) that will outline exactly HOW various moves back to San Diego could be accomplished.
-Goro “uck season!” Saurus