It’s been eight days since the Chargers finished their season, and in only six days their window for moving to L.A. closes, permanently. Here’s a look at what to expect between now and January 15.
A decision between San Diego and Los Angeles most likely will be made by Sunday. The team, per a source with knowledge of the situation, doesn’t plan to request an extension of the deadline. Implicit in that phrasing is the possibility that an extension will be offered (and accepted) and/or that the team’s plan will change.
The January 11 joint meeting of the finance and stadium committee has no relevance to the Chargers. That meeting will focus on the Raiders and a possible move to Las Vegas; indeed, the Chargers won’t even be attending.
The current gap between the NFL and team contribution to a new San Diego stadium and the cost of a new San Diego stadium is $550 million, not $175 million. Getting the gap to $175 million happens only if $375 million is generated from the city and county. The city contribution would require a public vote (and a 50-percent majority), and the county contribution would require approval from the California Legislature and the endorsement of Governor Jerry Brown.
Meanwhile, the NFL is reluctant to bridge all or part of the $375 million gap due to concerns about the precedent it would set for future owners who hope to build or renovate stadiums with public assistance. The bulk of the owners believe that the Chargers have a viable option to share a stadium in L.A., and that they should take it.
The only owner who may disagree is Rams owner Stan Kroenke, who could in theory help bridge the gap with a payment that would ensure he keeps the L.A. market to himself.
While it remains possible that, for example, Kroenke could conditionally commit to the $175 million while the $375 million in public money is pursued with a corresponding delay in the Chargers’ window to move to L.A., the uncertainty has significantly impacted the team’s revenue streams in San Diego, with a 14.6-percent drop in attendance from 2015 to 2016 and possibly more reductions to come as the Chargers kick the can for another year or two before hitting the road.
It’s possible, then, that the Chargers will simply decide to stay put with no stadium solution. affirmatively slamming the door on a move to L.A. in order to rebuild the San Diego fan base and hoping that a stadium solution will emerge. At a minimum, however, the Chargers should try to get some sort of a payment from the Rams in exchange for eliminating the Chargers from the L.A. equation.
In the end, Kroenke’s willingness to write the Chargers a check may hinge on the question of whether the Raiders will not then take advantage of their option to move to L.A., which will arise as of January 16.
To summarize, the complex, high-stakes game of chess, checkers, and chicken continues — and it’s all necessarily coming to a head very, very soon.