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Former Chargers G.M. insists team won’t leave San Diego, regardless of vote

San Diego Chargers general manager A.J. Smith discusses contract negotiations with tight end Antonio Gates at Qualcomm Stadium in San Diego, Calif. on Sunday, August 21, 2005. (Photo by Kirby Lee/Getty Images) Getty Images

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.

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30 Responses to “Former Chargers G.M. insists team won’t leave San Diego, regardless of vote”
  1. cardinealsfan20 says: Sep 15, 2016 6:20 AM

    There are other places the Chargers could go besides LA.

  2. aj66shanghai says: Sep 15, 2016 6:39 AM

    I remember thinking the exact same thing about the Supersonics

  3. jayhawk6 says: Sep 15, 2016 7:41 AM

    This is just one more reason for Chargers fans to hate A.J. Smith.

  4. xpensivewinos says: Sep 15, 2016 8:33 AM

    It’s simply ridiculous in this day and age that the NFL and one of its teams are not picking up the tab for a new stadium between the two of them. If they think they need it, then pay for it.

    If a city wants to give them a sweetheart deal on some land in order to have some skin in the game, that seems more than reasonable as the area’s contribution, but taxpayers paying one penny to subsidize billionaires in a billionaires business is insane.

    And anyone who thinks that hotel tax will cover the costs is an idiot. That deal is all kinds of lousy….

    Funny how rich guys hate subsidizing anything or the word “entitlement”……..unless of course it’s helping them.

  5. medialovesthecowboys says: Sep 15, 2016 8:47 AM

    Does anyone actually believe there was ever any real threat of these guys leaving SD?

  6. kane337 says: Sep 15, 2016 8:56 AM

    I really hope the Chargers stay in San Diego. They belong there. I hope they get their new stadium too.

  7. joetoronto says: Sep 15, 2016 9:19 AM

    Look, it’s the Lord of No Rings!

  8. thefirstsmilergrogan says: Sep 15, 2016 9:38 AM

    did this guy ever do anything that wasn’t no-class? think the rest of the front office learned their bedside manner from this jerk….

    he kept gates out of a game for holding out. then the chargers failed to make the playoff by one game. he got rid of tomlinson and brees. the new crew treated weddle like a dog turd.

  9. pkrjones says: Sep 15, 2016 9:48 AM

    Moving the team isn’t even a veiled threat for Charger’s management. The relocation fee is at least $550Million. They prolonged the contract stand-off with Bosa over delaying a few Million in bonuses for 6 month’s of interest. They aren’t going anywhere regardless of screwing the taxpayers, visitors to the city or fans.

  10. THX 138 says: Sep 15, 2016 9:56 AM

    AJ was not the greatest GM but at least he did not put up with crap and told it like it is.

  11. nflinvegas says: Sep 15, 2016 10:03 AM

    Nobody wants the Chargers.

  12. scrp2 says: Sep 15, 2016 10:17 AM

    Forbes came out and said the Chargers team is now valued at 2 billion, double what it was two years ago. So even playing in the worst stadium the team has doubled it’s value. What is this? Monopoly money now?

    As for A.J. Smith, people couldn’t wait for him to get fired. With the way the Chargers have been playing and some of the draft decisions, some Chargers fans are now saying “remember the good ol’ days with AJ and Norv?”

  13. lukedunphysscienceproject says: Sep 15, 2016 10:32 AM

    THX 138 says:
    Sep 15, 2016 9:56 AM
    AJ was not the greatest GM but at least he did not put up with crap and told it like it is.
    ========

    Never understood why this is always considered such a huge virtue. Any moron can just spout off whatever is on their mind without taking a second to consider the consequences.

    And I suppose not putting up with crap is great right up to the point where you fire a coach who just went 14-2.

    AJ’s mouth and his temper cost the Chargers franchise dearly. There is nothing laudable about this clod. Not surprising that he found one last way to stick it to the organization that gave him his biggest shot.

  14. NFLexpert says: Sep 15, 2016 10:37 AM

    This guy sounds like Art Modell reincarnated….

  15. dabears7190 says: Sep 15, 2016 10:51 AM

    Love him or hate him, and most everyone hates him, but AJ is right. They aren’t going anywhere. Ever since Kroenke won the rights to Los Angeles, Spanos has been back peddling on leaving San Diego. For years he used Los Angeles as his lean to if San Diego didn’t give him his new stadium. Now that he doesn’t have LA anymore, unless he wants the small share of the market which he does not, he is simply pretending like he never wanted to leave and trying to get back on the good side of the people he burned.

    There is no denying that San Diego needs a new stadium. Where is the actual problem? The city would prefer it right next to the one that’s already there. Spanos wants it downtown. I’m pretty sure Spanos will lose twice in this deal. He will lose Los Angeles and he will lose his location. Unless he comes up with his own funding and stop putting it on the people who live here to build it for him.

    Everyone in San Diego knows Spanos was taking his team to LA. That’s a given. But, Kroenke beat him to it. The party is over for Spanos, and now he’s just trying to save face in a city where many have already burned their Chargers memorabilia.

  16. 12brichandfamous says: Sep 15, 2016 11:02 AM

    Forbes came out and said the Chargers team is now valued at 2 billion, double what it was two years ago. So even playing in the worst stadium the team has doubled it’s value. What is this? Monopoly money now?

    +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
    That valuation is based on selling the team now. Being valued does not mean money immediately in the pocket. If Spanos wants to monetize that value, he needs to sell pieces of the team to investors.

  17. pwrspin says: Sep 15, 2016 11:12 AM

    Way I see it A.J. Smith made one HUGE mistake as Charger’s GM: Firing Marty Schottenheimer. That was one of the most ridicules mistakes ANY GM EVER made in the history of sports. Otherwise, he stockpiled the team with talent and I think eventually would have won the AFC a time or two during that run. The GM doesn’t have to make friends with the fans and media or be well liked. All he has to do is bring in talent and A.J. Smith did that. I appreciate his time with the Chargers. Tom Telesco may be more liked by the team and media, but is he doing as good as job as Smith? Hardly.

  18. xpensivewinos says: Sep 15, 2016 11:35 AM

    I’ll be the first to admit that I was fired up about them cleaning house and going young with the GM, president and coach and having them grow the organization together.

    Wow, was I wrong. Each one is more incompetent than the next.

    I think this franchise is cursed…..

  19. Rob Murphy says: Sep 15, 2016 11:47 AM

    “Never understood why this is always considered such a huge virtue. Any moron can just spout off whatever is on their mind without taking a second to consider the consequences.

    And I suppose not putting up with crap is great right up to the point where you fire a coach who just went 14-2.

    AJ’s mouth and his temper cost the Chargers franchise dearly. There is nothing laudable about this clod. Not surprising that he found one last way to stick it to the organization that gave him his biggest shot.”

    – – – – –
    This is the truth. AJ came on the radio after firing Marty and told season ticket holders that 14-2 didn’t matter. I think season ticket holders are actually fond of seeing the team win. Firing a 14-2 coach is always and forever inexcusable. You cannot build a winner with a mentality that says it’s ever acceptable to fire a 14-2 coach. Winning is not in your DNA if you say those words.

  20. sindiegosage says: Sep 15, 2016 12:05 PM

    There will be no Chargers stadium, but there might be a City of San Diego stadium. And it might not be a stadium, but instead a convadium. How many PFTers outside of San Diego knew that? How many PFTers know what a convadium is?

  21. richdogg231 says: Sep 15, 2016 12:07 PM

    If this stadium vote fails (and I think it will) I don’t know what to make of the Chargers. I guess they will be playing in the Q forever. Spanos can’t afford to build it himself and the voters aren’t willing to pay for it. I also don’t see Spanos selling the team. Guess they are stuck in purgatory forever.

  22. idiedpretty says: Sep 15, 2016 12:12 PM

    Bottom line, nobody cares where they play. They are irrelevant.

  23. granadafan says: Sep 15, 2016 12:25 PM

    lukedunphysscienceproject says:
    Sep 15, 2016 10:32 AM
    Never understood why this is always considered such a huge virtue. Any moron can just spout off whatever is on their mind without taking a second to consider the consequences.
    ==========================================

    Well, spouting off and “telling it like it is” without consideration for the consequences gets you to be a presidential candidate.

    Back to the topic, LA doesn’t want the Chargers and the taxpayers of San Diego know that. Call the Chargers’ bluff. Let the billionaire Spanos pay for his own stadium like Kroenke did. The public really needs to take a stand against sports teams not paying for their own work places, whether it’s charging the taxpayers or visitors.

  24. pondbridge says: Sep 15, 2016 1:02 PM

    San Antonio Chargers, if Cowboys moderate the territorial penalty. City deserves a team, was screwed around by the Raid Duhs & the guy with the blond Moe Howard hair cut.

  25. National Fanatic says: Sep 15, 2016 1:24 PM

    How about a stadium similar to Safeco Field ($518 million in 1999). Realisticly, the Chargers can build a new stadium in Qualcomm parking lot for $720 million ($300 million from the league, $300 million from the Chargers and the other $120 million from the city).
    (The downtown idea is 100% stupid. Not enough parking backed up to railroad tracks)

  26. padresad says: Sep 15, 2016 1:25 PM

    I think AJ is right. Deano went all in on LA and it completely backfired on him. Now he is desperately wanting to make a deal with SD (which still benefits him greatly) only because his initial plan failed. Deano doesn’t want to pay $550m relocation fee. He lost my support a long time ago. I’m voting no on C because this asshat wouldn’t even have hesitated to move to LA if it weren’t for Kroenke and because I really want to see what his plan is if Prop C fails. Sure, he could try for Portland or San Antonio, but that’s going to cost him money out of his pockets. Even if he gets his stadium here, there won’t be championship football in San Diego until he no longer owns the team. He is the problem.

  27. mdintino1420 says: Sep 16, 2016 12:01 AM

    VOTE YES NOVEMBER 8th. Then there will be no threat of the Chargers moving. Together we can get it done to secure our team’s future in San Diego.

  28. mdintino1420 says: Sep 16, 2016 12:03 AM

    For the 500th time, it will be visitors and tourists paying the $350 million contribution, not San Diego residents!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  29. sdcharger123 says: Sep 16, 2016 12:59 AM

    I don’t like AJ, but he’s right. No one will benefit from the Chargers leaving San Diego, other than a city that isn’t as good of a location as San Diego. The NFL wants the location and the market. Fairweather or whatever you may say about the fan base, those games sell out every week.

    When you live in a place like Southern California, the land of transplants, you’re never going to have a home field advantage like you will on the east coast. It’ll eventually be the same story in LA with the Rams, a ton of people from opposing fanbases going to the game to root for the team from where they came from.

  30. natelan says: Sep 19, 2016 6:27 PM

    pwrspin says:
    Sep 15, 2016 11:12 AM
    Way I see it A.J. Smith made one HUGE mistake as Charger’s GM: Firing Marty Schottenheimer. That was one of the most ridicules mistakes ANY GM EVER made in the history of sports. Otherwise, he stockpiled the team with talent and I think eventually would have won the AFC a time or two during that run. The GM doesn’t have to make friends with the fans and media or be well liked. All he has to do is bring in talent and A.J. Smith did that. I appreciate his time with the Chargers. Tom Telesco may be more liked by the team and media, but is he doing as good as job as Smith? Hardly.
    ——————————–
    Wrong. His predecessor, the late and great John Butler, is the one who stockpiled talent and then passed away quickly from cancer, leaving a loaded team to A.J.

    A.J. did the exact OPPOSITE of stockpiling talent on our team… He stockpiled OTHER teams with our talent, by letting huge talents leave for nothing in return.

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