Chargers won’t be leaving L.A. for at least two decades

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In the wake of the news that owners have concerns about the Chargers in L.A., some in the media have started throwing darts at the map in search of a new home for the team.

Don’t bother. They aren’t leaving Los Angeles. Not for at least 20 years after the opening of the new stadium they’ll share with the Rams in Inglewood.

Per a source with knowledge of the situation, the Chargers have a firm 20-year lease at the venue being built by Rams owner Stan Kroenke. The Chargers also hold a pair of exclusive 10-year options after the first 20-year term.

Don’t shrug at the existence of a 20-year lease and say, “Contracts were made to be broken.” Everything currently being sold at the venue — from naming rights to luxury boxes to sponsorships to advertising — hinges on at least 20 NFL games per year, for at least 20 years. Thus, a premature exit by the Chargers would be the first domino in a cascade of contractual breaches.

The first breach would surely be the biggest. Kroenke didn’t amass his fortune by not holding his business partners to their commitments. He’s shelling out billions to build the stadium, and the return on his investment relies on the Chargers honoring their commitment to play roughly 200 total games there over two decades. There’s no way Kroenke would look the other way on a way out for the Chargers absent significant compensation, from someone.

Then there’s the question of whether the Chargers want out. They don’t, and they’re not expected to. The Chargers get to play in the new stadium without paying any construction costs, including cost overruns. The Spanos family took on no debt to make the move, with the only expense being the $650 million relocation fee, paid out over 10 years.

Given the ongoing increase in TV revenue and franchise value, it’s a drop in the bucket to have partial long-term dibs on the nation’s No. 2 market.

And by the time the 20-year lease matures to the point where the Chargers can exercise their first 10-year option to renew it, a generation of Angelenos will have grown up with a pair of NFL teams in town, in contrast to the generation that grew up with none. So, yes, as time goes by, more people will embrace the Rams or the Chargers, or both. While that unfolds, the Chargers will be playing in the best stadium in the league, on favorable terms.

Maybe the first two years have been rockier than expected, but this is a 20-to-40-year play. At a minimum, it’s a 20-year venture beyond the opening of the stadium in 2020, with little or no chance of a re-relocation.

63 responses to “Chargers won’t be leaving L.A. for at least two decades

  1. The lease means nothing. If the Chargers asked Kroenke to let them out of the lease (giving the Rams exclusive rights to the LA market), I’m sure that Kroenke would at least consider it.

  2. Call me crazy, but didn’t they just get there a year ago? And they’re already talking about leaving? Whoever developed this business plan needs to fired immediately and held financially responsible.

  3. Move the Chargers back to San Diego. I still can’t believe this move happened. I feel terrible for Charger fans in San Diego.

  4. If the NFL still wants to go international, they’ve missed an easy opportunity . Chargers should’ve gone to Tijuana, Mexico but kept headquarters in San Diego. Hec, build a stadium right by the boarder on the U.S side. Mexican fans are passionate as hec. Look at their soccer team Mexico. Tijuana Chargers.

    NFL should send the Buffalo Bills to Toronto and a team (Jags) to England. They tested the waters and it’s proven a team in the UK can be successful.

    The world is loving a taste of our beloved American Football but we need a strong smart commissioner to see it through. Another words, we are screwed.

  5. “The Spanos family took on no debt to make the move, with the only expense being the $650 million relocation fee, paid out over 10 years”

    That’s $1.25 million dollars per week for the next 10 years, if there’s no interest. Wah wuh wee wuh.

  6. The Chargers will be fine in LA and can easily win over some of the LA market just by stringing together a few winning seasons, get into the playoffs a few times, and by winning a few playoff games. If they can do that, not only will they develop their own LA fan base but they’ll also be able to win back some of the spurned SD fans who have abandoned the team for now. Winning has a way of fixing things and if the Chargers can start winning in LA some of those old SD Chargers fans will be willing to make the 2-hour drive North up a heavily congested 405.

  7. The dumbest/cheapest owner, spanhole. Has the nfl over a barrel? 2040? Jeez, these owners are stupid.

  8. How did that work out for the Jets? STILL 2nd class citizens.

    Long Island fan base (rabid, at that) who have to drive 30 to 75 miles as the crow flies but it still takes 2 to 4 hours. All they had to do was build a stadium on the Island.

    So, NOTHING is free. So the Chargers don’t pay. They now have to win for a decade plus. The Jets have been as good as the Giants over the past 40 years, minus the Super Bowls. Even if you reversed the SB’s, the Jets would still be 2nd class citizens. You have to win a ton and all the time to get out from under that rock.

    Look at the Patriots. They were dreadful forever and I’m sure 99% of them will tell you they’ve been there since day 1. Yeah, 2001…

  9. Kroenke was going to build the same stadium Chargers or no Chargers. He bought the old racetrack property many years before the move. The whole thing was a decade long dance by Kroenke- from buying the LA property to running the Rams into the ground to suppress attendance and fan interest in St Louis.

    He only agreed to let the Chargers share the stadium to grease the way for other owners to let him move.

  10. The Chargers did a deal with the Devil. If there is a silver lining here for the Raiders it’s that they don’t have Stan Kroenke for a landlord. Stan had no intentions of sharing LA with another team and he’ll make sure he’s compensated for it.

  11. It would benefit Kroenke to be the only team in town so he’d likely gladly release the Chargers from their lease if they were leaving the area entirely. And all agreements in place calling for 20 games per season are with the STADIUM as an entity, not with the Rams the team, so if the stadium had to redo a bunch of contracts, so what? Any reduction in revenue to the stadium would undoubtedly be offset and then some by increased revenue the Rams would enjoy.

    It also would have been monumentally dumb for the Chargers and the NFL to allow them to get roped into a long-term lease with no escape clause for any reason. Imagine another stadium project could somehow get off the ground in the LA area. You’re telling me the Chargers and the league never would have thought about that? Having their own stadium would make a HUGE difference in the value of the Chargers franchise, after all.

  12. As a San Diegan we’ve seen the Chargers amass a number of winning seasons, even a Super Bowl appearance, and yet opposing team fans seemed equal in number as local fans. Same thing is happening right now in LA. To assume LA will embrace this team by winning a few seasons in a row maybe so, but been there, done that for this team. Bit of a reach especially since the same owners are in place. Don’t think that will ever change due to how much a franchise is worth now but let’s not go overboard.

  13. jerrysglassescleaner says:
    October 18, 2018 at 5:18 pm
    If the NFL still wants to go international, they’ve missed an easy opportunity . Chargers should’ve gone to Tijuana, Mexico but kept headquarters in San Diego. Hec, build a stadium right by the boarder on the U.S side. Mexican fans are passionate as hec. Look at their soccer team Mexico. Tijuana Chargers.

    NFL should send the Buffalo Bills to Toronto and a team (Jags) to England. They tested the waters and it’s proven a team in the UK can be successful.

    The world is loving a taste of our beloved American Football but we need a strong smart commissioner to see it through. Another words, we are screwed.

    When Terry and Kim bought the Bills they said the name of the team will remain the Buffalo Bills. They are working to see if remodeling New Era Field or a new downtown stadium would be wiser.

  14. Huge mistake to go play second fiddle as the out of town renters. Maybe they don’t care if any fans show up because they probably make money just off the teevee revenue….

  15. At least they are getting a new stadium in LA. And wished that would had gotten it in San Diego. But really hope one day San Diego will have a football team one day. But that could be years or decades.

  16. At first, I was more excited about the Chargers coming to LA than the Rams. 2 years in though, it’s clear Kroenke has completely outplayed the Spanos owners in what the Chargers have cringingly dubbed “The Battle for Los Angeles”. Kroenke has been executing a flawless strategy: 1) Beat the Chargers into LA and establish the market on their own for a year. 2) Break foundation on a stadium before another team could. 3) Assemble an All-Star roster to win games, even if it means going into luxury tax/salary cap hell for a few years, because winning, above all things, wins fans. The latter has been going better this year than I think even he could expect. Not did taking a chance on the youngest head coach in the league resonate with LA millenials, it worked – elevating the value of previous draft picks and luring free agents. Speaking of which, the same for the addition of coach Wade. With a little help to rules changes making offenses fire on all cylinders, The Greatest Show on Turf II is making “The Battle for Los Angeles” look like a complete rout. And here’s the kicker: If the Chargers do manage to outclass the Rams in a few years, Kroenke will still be reaping the rewards from their stadium contract.

  17. The reality is that (and correct me if I am wrong) any 2 team market has the team the city actually loves and the team that people go to because they cant afford tickets to the good team. And even winning has a tough time changing this. The Chargers will be the Jets/Clippers/Islanders/Angels/White Sox unless they can win a Superbowl, and that’s not an easy thing to do even with a competent owner.

  18. Winning has a way of fixing things and if the Chargers can start winning in LA some of those old SD Chargers fans will be willing to make the 2-hour drive North up a heavily congested 405.

    If they wanted to keep San Diego fans coming to chargers games, why not keep the damn franchise in San Diego?

  19. I wish people would stop saying they need to be in San Diego. Get over it. This is the NFL They will do whatever the “Club of 32” wants them to do. So quit beeechin.

  20. There is so much to do in LA that unless these teams are winning, they will be playing in front a lot of empty seats, especially since NFL tickets are so expensive. Just because a team is playing in one’s city does not mean that there will be fans. The team has to win consistently; it has to win championships to lure fans.

  21. backintheday99 says:
    October 18, 2018 at 5:40 pm
    How did that work out for the Jets? STILL 2nd class citizens.

    Long Island fan base (rabid, at that) who have to drive 30 to 75 miles as the crow flies but it still takes 2 to 4 hours. All they had to do was build a stadium on the Island.

    So, NOTHING is free. So the Chargers don’t pay. They now have to win for a decade plus. The Jets have been as good as the Giants over the past 40 years, minus the Super Bowls. Even if you reversed the SB’s, the Jets would still be 2nd class citizens. You have to win a ton and all the time to get out from under that rock.

    Look at the Patriots. They were dreadful forever and I’m sure 99% of them will tell you they’ve been there since day 1. Yeah, 2001…

    ————-

    The Patriots went to SBs in 1985 and 1996 and have sold out every game since 1993

  22. The NFL should just contract and get rid of the Jets, Chargers, Raiders and Browns. Why? Because it’d just be hilarious.

  23. What everyone is missing is that owning an NFL team is like having a license to print money. They don’t need fans, wins, good coaches, or inciteful GMs. They just need to exist and we hand them cash.

  24. Robot Impurity says:
    October 18, 2018 at 6:42 pm
    The NFL should just contract and get rid of the Jets, Chargers, Raiders and Browns. Why? Because it’d just be hilarious.

    ________________________________________

    I’m a Cardinals fan and would probably be put out of my lifetime of football fan misery is they were on this list

  25. backintheday99 says:
    October 18, 2018 at 5:40 pm

    Look at the Patriots. They were dreadful forever and I’m sure 99% of them will tell you they’ve been there since day 1. Yeah, 2001…
    ——————————————-
    Well considering every game has been a sellout with a season ticket waiting list since 1994…

  26. Chargers aren’t leaving, they need to either 1. Change their look, easy option. 2. Change their look and go regional like the Cards did, So Cal Chargers, could be the best option 3. Full rebrand like the Oilers/Titans did, root into LA. Staying in the current away, they look and still have players from the San Diego Chargers. Need to make a change. Rams were here for 49 years before they left, they don’t need a rebrand.

  27. I was just in LA over night. Of the 3 people I asked, they could care less about the Chargers. …Soooo that totally represents the entire population of Southern California

  28. Chargers should go to Oakland. Oakland can get behind a team like the Chargers. Oakland didn’t get behind the Raiders 100% because they always knew they had one foot in Oakland and one foot out. They’re a bunch of vagabond wanders. The desert is the perfect place for the Raiders.

  29. “I feel terrible for Chargers fans in San Diego”
    _______

    Why? They had multiple chances to keep the team. They voted down multiple initiatives to renovate a substandard stadium or build a new one. The San Diego people got exactly what they voted for, no need to feel terrible for them.

  30. LA seems more like a layover spot for NLF teams. They are just passing through. It’s not even enough of a football town to support one team much less two. I wonder where the Chargers and Rams will be in 15 years?

  31. Everyone knows the Chargers will struggle in LA

    The Rams & Raiders relocation look strong, but the Chargers in LA is a deafening mistake.

    Just look at how the Raiders PSL’s have greatly out sold the Chargers PSL’s in a much, Much smaller market.

    San Diego has TWO stadium initiatives on ballot next month — if the nicer MLS stadium proposal passes: the Charger would 100% be better off in a new MLS stadium in San Diego than as Kroenke’s tenant.

    Chargers will always be the 5th popular team in LA: USC > Rams > Raiders > UCLA > Chargers

    Northern California is about to have 1 NFL team, and that’s ok… Southern California is populated enough to easily handle to teams, but I’m not sold that LA *NEEDS* two teams… LA may be better off with 1 team (Rams + all the LA Raider fans looking forward to Vegas), and the San Diego Chargers should be the 2nd team in SoCal. (I also think there should never be 3 NFL teams in SoCal).

  32. Kroenke will control Chargers in a few years through another Walton heir, they have the cash

    (Charger 383 refers to a Dodge car, nothing about 2nd LA team)

  33. People still getting it wrong! Look non-LA people, Rams play in a stadium that sits 92,000 plus people. No NFL stadium will ever come close to that size again. Rams still get 50,000 plus a game. The Chargers ARE NOT AND WILL NEVER be welcomed by LA! We said the years ago. The Chargers will not be here in 10 years, let alone 20

  34. * I supported the Chargers with season tickets from 1978 to 2016. But I see why Spanos did what he did – as his battle to get a new stadium – which started in the late 1990s, began eroding goodwill between himself and the fans, transforming what was then Qualcomm stadium – into a place where home field advantage disappeared. The stadium could have been upgraded at incremental cost. (Remember, San Diego hosted Super Bowls in 1988, 1998 and 2003.)

    * The problem is Spanos – who had a year after the NFL approved the Rams and Chargers moving to L.A. – to ponder an actual move – was emotionally distraught and – as was reported in the sports media – had all but “begged” the owners to fork over or loan EVEN MORE money than previously promised – (without using those words, the implication was clear) – so that he’d be able to STAY in San Diego with a new stadium.

    * Voters in San Diego weren’t going to pay for it – and now Spanos wanted help from the league that was greater than promised one year before. One report noted that fellow owners “liked” Spanos as a “good guy” – but collectively they had no respect for him as a business owner, him being cash poor in relation to themselves. He was not a Jerry Jones who commands a room.

    * One report was that Spanos looked “weak” when he made his final plea to the owners – before he himself, feeling backed into an imaginary corner – pulled the trigger to move to L.A. after spending a year pondering and ruminating over a ballot measure that was doomed from the start.

    * At that time, somewhere in Spanos’ conflicted and turbulent mind – was the crazy Hail Mary belief that the owners might build him a new stadium – either gratis or via offering even bigger loans – to keep the Chargers in San Diego.

    * Today Spanos is still “cash poor.” Moreover, he still has NO leverage to do anything in relation to his L.A. situation. His die has been cast and he is prevented from selling his team for years – as part of the agreement the league made when he pulled the trigger to move.

    * The end result is Mr. Spanos’s only solace is noble and hollow at the same time. He now has a team with greater paper value – but with NO fans in relation to other teams. His fellow owners don’t respect him, nor what he did. He sleeps better at night knowing even if Charger fans in San Diego and his own peers think him weak – he put his family first in relation to boosting the team’s paper value. That may be a noble legacy for his family as a reigning patriarch – but it’s an infamous legacy to sports history specific to the “villains” of the NFL, e.g., the Art Modells of the world.

    * The Chargers will NOT be able to fill their new stadium in L.A. in 2020 and beyond – even if they begin winning. The two-team concept has never worked well in sunny but traffic-embattled Southern California, where fans have their entrenched preferences and turn out for legacy teams – and when they do – they’re fickle enough to turn out only for “big” games and for the playoffs.

    * In the end, no matter what Spanos may experience with a winning team on the field – he will never have the emotional vindication he desires. To be fair, Charger fans were important to him, but they were always a distant second to his family; he ultimately became bitter – because fans willing to pay higher taxes to build his $1 billion-plus new stadium – were overwhelmed with a greater population who were never sports fans, let alone Charger fans – who didn’t want want higher taxes for a facility whose major tenant would use it just ten games each year.

    * The Chargers’ chapter in San Diego is now closed and a future generation of NFL fans – “might” be able to root for a local NFL team in a decade or two – but only if a stadium is built with private money. Alas, that not going to happen in my lifetime. In today’s NFL, you have to bring your own money. In 1965, voters overwhelmingly approved tax dollars to build what was Jack Murphy / Qualcomm Stadium for the Chargers and Padres in 1967. That’s now ancient history. Their fan base eroded and turned fickle when the stadium fight droned on over two decades.

    * Unlike the Raiders, Chiefs, Packers, Steelers, etc., e.g., franchises with fans who travel well, there’s a big reason why there’s no such a thing as a “Chargers Nation” with great numbers. And you don’t have to think too hard to figure out why.

  35. I wonder if they will have to pump in crowd noise like they do now with their defense on the field, pathetic!

  36. They had almost 20yrs to get a deal done in SD. Is that all on Spanos? Negatron. I respect the move because SD didnt respect the entity that the team is. Im glad they left. SD fans didnt even show up to Qualcomm but everyone mad theyre gone? FOH. Winning cures all.

  37. To satisfy the contractual obligations, the Chargers and Raiders should trade teams. Put the Raiders in LA, and move the Chargers to Las Vegas.

  38. I still don’t get why people think the San Diego tax payers should’ve passed the bill to build a stadium with tax money. Thats crazy! Spanos looked for anyway to get a stadium without footing the bill. This never meant Charger fans didn’t care about the team, they just didn’t think that building a stadium was their responsibility. San Diego loved the Chargers, they hate Spanos greed.

  39. The lease is not nothing. It would be tough to break. There would be all manner of things that have to be redone.

    But the league loves shiny new stadiums, and they absolutely hate empty seats and underperforming teams.

    There is no immediate escape hatch pre-stadium, but if sales and attendance get bad enough long enough, especially if it is a winning team, then it won’t just be Spanos but also the league that want them out.

    And while current agreements are based on 2 teams and a full slate of games, Kroenke made his plans and they got approved based on his team only, and the Chargers only got an option to join in in all the side dealing to get owner approval. He would have been perfectly happy to have LA to himself, and his stadium can be viable that way.

  40. Move the team to St. Louis, rebrand and give SD future team if they can get a stadium. The NFL should have awarded STL another franchise like they did with Cleveland. STL was a great NFL market until STANk and Dumoff cheated the City of the Rams. STL was a strong NFL market until StanK ran the franchise in the ground on purpose to build it up for LA. That greedy fool will be dead before he reaps the real benefits of the move. Then he will only be left with the horrible and evil reputation he has from the Rams debacle, to the Arsenal takeover, to the booting of people from the land he purchased in the West. Kroenke is scum. At least Spanos gave SD the chance to build a stadium. The stadium is SD is a dump. The Dome in STL may not have been the best, but it is better than some existing venues and STL is a top 20 market in media and population, great sports town (not just baseball). Kroenke and the NFL are scum, but I think most in STL would forget about the past if a new was awarded.

  41. As an LA Rams fan who lost his Rams to St. Louis a couple decades ago and saw the back and forth with the Raiders crush our hearts again and again, I feel for the San Diego fan base who are mourning their beloved Bolts. I am cynical about whether Stan really wanted a stadium partner or not, but one thing is sure: he loves money and is good at making lots of it. He would probably require a sizable lease buyout and make the NFL themselves pony up some dough before ever considering allowing the Bolts to break their lease. It would also set a bad precedent, something that the NFL would frown on. I think the Chargers will stay in LA. It’s their most viable option.

  42. Doesnt matter im sure if NFL needed to make a move Kroenke would gladly let the Chargers out of that lease in a heartbeat.He never wanted them there in the first place.The NFL forced him to allow for it as part of kroenke getting right to move from St Louis to LA.

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