The Chargers are staying in San Diego, with or without a new stadium.
That’s the very strong opinion of the team’s former General Manager, a man who presumably knows a thing or two about the organization.
“The Chargers are staying here,” A.J. Smith told Kevin Acee of the San Diego Union-Tribune. “They have to do a deal.”
By “doing a deal,” Smith means “doing a deal in San Diego.” Even though the team has the exclusive option to share a stadium with the Rams in L.A.
“The reality is, there is no option,” Smith said. “There is an option, but it will never be exercised.”
It the option is never exercised, it won’t be a surprise. Despite reports from January and February that the Chargers and Rams were making progress on an agreement, a sense has emerged that the Chargers don’t want to share space with the Rams — and that the Rams may not want to share the market with anyone.
If Smith is right, it doesn’t matter if the ballot initiative aimed at increasing hotel/motel taxes succeeds or fails. Which means that the team would prefer that Smith not be communicating to voters who believe the Chargers will leave without taxpayer funding.
Smith’s comments now put the team in an awkward spot. They can ignore his remarks, agree with them (which is unlikely), or refute them. The most likely move will be for the Chargers to explain that their primary focus is securing proper funding for the new stadium and that no final decisions have been made about what will happen if the initiative fails.
Which may be technically true. But the Chargers surely know what they are going to do. And Smith surely believes he knows what that is.