SAN DIEGO -- His team was expected to compete for a postseason berth, but instead San Diego Chargers general manager Tom Telesco was left lamenting their 4-12 record in a year when they needed to create a buzz to get an in-town stadium deal done.
“That’s really frustrating and disappointing to me,” Telesco said. “If there was ever a year that we had to get this going, from 9-7 and 9-7 to this year -- this was the year. That bothers me. And it’s going to be on my record for the rest of my career.”
With no playoff run to energize fans and the team butting heads with local officials on the right stadium plan to move forward on in San Diego, the Chargers are now focused on partnering with the Oakland Raiders on a $1.7 billion, privately financed stadium plan in Carson, Calif.
St. Louis Rams owner Stan Kroenke proposes building a $1.86 billion facility in Inglewood.
NFL owners will meet on Tuesday and Wednesday in Houston to discuss and potentially vote on which, if any, of the three teams move to Los Angeles. Here’s a look at some reasons the Chargers could head north and reasons they could stay put in San Diego.
Carson or bust
Whether or not you think they've done enough in terms of the number of proposals or years spent working to get something done locally, the Chargers do appear to have satisfied the league’s requirement of showing a good-faith effort of working with their home market.
The Chargers claim they have successfully marketed the team in the Los Angeles area in the 20 years in which the Rams and Chargers have been gone, with 25 percent of the franchise’s season-ticket members living in Los Angeles and Orange Counties and the Inland Empire.
So relocating to Los Angeles, in the mind of team chairman Dean Spanos, is just moving into a market that is rightfully his, even though the Raiders and Rams have larger fan bases in the Los Angeles area thanks to their time there over two decades ago.
The Chargers also appear to have the most support among owners. Depending on who you talk to, the Chargers have roughly half of the NFL owners leaning toward voting for the team’s stadium proposal in Carson.
The relocation of a franchise requires a yes vote by three-quarters of NFL clubs (24 of 32).
And even though Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones has put forth a plan that would have the Rams and Chargers partnering on a deal in Inglewood, the Chargers have no intention of working with Rams owner Stan Kroenke.
In a letter dated Dec. 1, Kroenke told the NFL owners’ committee on Los Angeles opportunities that he would agree to work with a second team that would be responsible for 50 percent of construction costs for the stadium, but that would not have any control over the design and construction of the stadium and surrounding development.
Responding to Kroenke’s offer in a letter to the committee on Dec. 7, Spanos said 'no, thanks':
“Nothing in Stan’s letter gives me any reason to reconsider my partnership with [Raiders owner] Mark Davis and our chosen stadium site,” Spanos wrote. “I firmly believe that the proposal we have jointly made is in the best interests of the entire League and is in complete compliance with the League’s relocation policies. I write to respectfully reaffirm our strong partnership and my abiding desire to help the National Football League return to Los Angeles in the most successful way possible.”
So the Chargers are all in on Carson.
Last Chance for San Diego
Kroenke appears ready to build a stadium in Inglewood, whether the NFL approves the Rams' relocation request or not.
Kroenke’s announcement a year ago that he would build an NFL stadium in Los Angeles set in motion the Chargers' speedily assembled Carson project that was put forward as an alternative should a stadium deal not get done in San Diego.
The Chargers appear to be the front-runner to move to Los Angeles. But the league could consider the Rams a better fit, and may see Kroenke with his billions as a stronger candidate for long-term success.
In the unlikely event that the Chargers are not given the green light to move by NFL owners, the team would likely seek to build a downtown stadium/convention center expansion by creating a citizens’ initiative in San Diego and attempting to get voter approval in the same manner the team moved forward in Carson.
“We don’t have any great hopes for working with this mayor or the city attorney,” Mark Fabiani, point person on the stadium issue for the Chargers, said back in October.
“They haven’t shown the ability to pull something like this off. I think what we’d probably look at is the citizens’ initiative, and try and go over the heads of the politicians and directly to the people. And try to make something happen that way.”