It’s official: The Chargers are relocating from San Diego to Los Angeles.
Chargers owner Dean Spanos announced the decision in a letter released by the team while informing his staff about the move Thursday morning. The Chargers had until an NFL-mandated deadline of Tuesday to make a decision on whether to relocate or not.
“After much deliberation, I have made the decision to relocate the Chargers to Los Angeles, beginning with the 2017 NFL season,” Spanos wrote. “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.”
In a statement released after the announcement, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell acknowledged the years of effort the Chargers made in trying to stay in San Diego.
“That work … reflects our strongly held belief we always should do everything we can to keep a franchise in its community. That’s why we have a deliberate and thoughtful process for making these decisions.
“Relocation is painful for teams and communities,” he continued. “It is especially painful for fans, and the fans in San Diego have given the Chargers strong and loyal support for more than 50 years, which makes it even more disappointing that we could not solve the stadium issue. As difficult as the news is for Charger fans, I know Dean Spanos and his family did everything they could to try to find a viable solution in San Diego.”
Shortly after the announcement, the Chargers revealed the 30,000-seat StubHub Center on the campus of Cal State Dominguez Hills in Carson will serve as the team’s temporary home until the stadium it will share with the Rams in Inglewood is built. The Chargers will play host to the Bills, Broncos, Browns, Chiefs, Dolphins, Eagles, Raiders and Redskins at home in 2017.
The team also launched FightforLA.com — a website that will allow fans to place a fully refundable $100 deposit on season tickets for the 2017 season. Current Chargers season ticket holders will maintain their priority status and are not required to make a deposit, the team said.
“Our ultimate goal is to bring L.A. a Super Bowl championship,” said John Spanos, the Chargers’ president of football operations. “When we say we will fight for L.A., this is the essence of our pledge.”
The L.A. move comes after Spanos told Goodell, other league officials and a few team owners of his intentions following the committee meetings Wednesday, sources informed of the situation told NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport. During those meetings, the Chargers were barely a topic and the league did not offer any additional money to contribute to their stadium efforts.
Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, who is scheduled to meet with Spanos on Thursday, welcomed the Chargers in a statement:
“Los Angeles is one of the world’s great sports towns,” Garcetti said. “Championship teams and iconic athletes aren’t just memories here — they are legends woven into the fabric of our history. Today, we welcome an important part of that history back with the Chargers returning to Los Angeles.
“L.A. already has more visitors than ever before. The Chargers will make our NFL tradition even richer, and give sports fans everywhere one more reason to be in Los Angeles. I congratulate Dean Spanos and the entire Chargers organization, and look forward to the extraordinary contributions they will make to our entire region.”
Speaking at the team’s facility in San Diego, Chargers guard Orlando Franklin said the move is unfortunate, but added he trusted the ownership’s judgment. He added, however, that he understands why San Diego fans might be angry.
“They have a right to be angry, they’ve been here for the last 55 years,” Franklin said. “You talk about losing a team … they have a lot of reasons to be angry, but I understand what Dean and John did here.”
In November, San Diego voters rejected a ballot measure that would have raised hotel occupancy taxes to help pay for a proposed $1.8 billion downtown stadium project. Ultimately, Spanos, San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer and other city and county officials failed to agree upon a stadium plan that would have kept the franchise in San Diego.
Last month, the Chargers agreed to lease a portion of an Orange County office facility as part of their preparations for a potential L.A. move.
The Costa Mesa, California, location will be the Chargers’ new front-office home, the team previously confirmed. The Chargers will eventually play their home games roughly 40 miles north in Inglewood. They will also have offices at the Inglewood stadium, which is under construction and slated to open in 2019.
The Chargers have until May 1 to terminate their lease with Qualcomm Stadium and with their training facility. They also now owe a $12 million termination fee to the city and will have to be out of Chargers Park by July 1, Rapoport reported.
The decision to move ends the Chargers’ 56-year stint in San Diego, but it’s not the first time the team has played in L.A. During their inaugural season in 1960, the then-American Football League franchise played in Los Angeles before moving south.
As it stands, the Los Angeles market will play host to two NFL teams in 2017 for the first time since 1994, when the Raiders and Rams left for Oakland and St. Louis, respectively. The Rams returned to L.A. last January.