Chargers Follow Rams to LA; Can You Blame Them?
January 16, 2017

They spent 56 years in San Diego. The weather was always perfect. With the exception of the baseball Padres, they had the sports market virtually cornered. They were a decent team. Fans showed up. But in the end, as Bill Murray said in the movie Meatballs, “It just doesn't matter. It just doesn't matter.”

Former NBA Coach Frank Layden reminded Sacramento Kings fans when they had high hopes for the team that had just relocated from Kansas City that “good teams don't move.” That was 1985. It's not about winning or losing anymore. It's not about whether or not fans buy tickets. It's about having a nice stadium and the (potential) corporate dollars that come with it.

One year to the day of the Rams getting permission to move to Los Angeles from St. Louis, the Chargers announced that they would join them in a two billion dollar “palace” (as Sam Farmer of the Los Angeles Times noted, that means a big building with a roof) in Inglewood. Rams owner Stan Kroenke will build it, and two teams will come, with the Chargers renting space from Kroenke's Rams. Chargers fans are understandably sad, and even heartbroken, but they shouldn't be surprised.

When NFL owners voted to let the Rams move, two other teams also wanted to relocate. The Chargers and Raiders both wanted to return to LA (The Chargers played there in 1960, and the Raiders from 1982-1994). The league decided in favor of the Rams, gave the Chargers until January 15, 2017 to decide if they would follow, and if the Chargers could work things out in San Diego, the Raiders would then have the third option.

The Chargers actually put a proposal for a new stadium forward, using a hotel tax to pay for it. The argument in favor was that it wouldn't cost city residents a dime (unless they lived in hotels). The argument against is that it might discourage tourism, or people who came to an event might stay outside of the city, and spend their money in places like Carlsbad or Oceanside. The issue went on the ballot in November as Measure C, but only those inside the San Diego city limits could vote on it. Since the measure was a tax, it would require a two-thirds vote to pass. It didn't even get a simple majority. November 8 was really the end of the San Diego Chargers, not January 12.

Interestingly, when the Chargers played their last game in San Diego New Year's Day (and lost to the Kansas City Chiefs), there didn't seem to be any finality. Fans knew this was likely it, but radio announcers and other media wouldn't go there, perhaps because they felt the doom and gloom the year before, and the franchise ended up staying one more season.

The eventual announcement brought some fan outrage. There was a bonfire of Chargers memorabilia. A video went viral (regionally at least) of a fan tossing a dozen eggs, one at a time, at the windows of the team offices. People were throwing away their Philip Rivers and Antonio Gates jerseys. There were pictures of kids crying on the news.

Again, none of this matters. The Chargers were playing in the same stadium as when they moved there in 1961. A new stadium initiative, even though the whole county couldn't vote on it, failed. For a mere 300-million dollar relocation fee (to the NFL, not the city of San Diego), the Chargers get a piece of the LA pie, and even if the average fan doesn't show up, or can't afford to, it just doesn't matter. As long as they are competitive with the Rams, have a good enough team to get more than their fare share of media coverage, things will be great. And Chargers owners don't even have to worry about that until the new colossal stadium opens in 2019. Until then, they'll play two seasons in the Long Beach suburb of Carson—home of the Goodyear Blimp and the Los Angeles Galaxy soccer team. The soccer stadium only holds 30-thousand for NFL football, and who knows? There's probably some room for the bonfire crowd and the egg-throwing guy. At least for a year or two.

Logo-gate: Hours after announcing the LA move, the Chargers unveiled a new Los Angeles logo (above photo) which was immediately booed and jeered by just about everyone south of Fresno. Many on social media likened it to the Dodgers logo, either on steroids or static electricity. Chargers officials later withdrew the logo, saying in a statement that they “miscalculated” how it would be received. Suggestion: How about the letters S-D with a heart ripped out of it.

El Padre: With the departure of the Chargers, San Diego is the only city to have a major league baseball team (the Padres), and none of the major pro sports. It was suggested that Major League Soccer now consider San Diego for expansion (they say the same about St. Louis with the Rams gone), to which someone tweeted, “Haven't they suffered enough?”

Da Bears: Sneaking in a local note, the Yuba City entry in the Great West (Collegiate Baseball) League will be called the Yuba City Bears, after a pro-franchise that played under that name in various leagues from 1932-1948. In a news conference introducing the team, there were a lot of Yuba City officials in attendance, but the team is Yuba City in name only. They will play their home games in Marysville, and will be owned and operated by the same people that run the Marysville Gold Sox.

Counting it down: This could be a “memorable” week (can't think of a better word). The Baseball Hall of Fame announcement will be made on Wednesday, and there's a chance that Barry Bonds and/or Roger Clemens could get in this time. With that and Donald Trump being sworn in on Friday, better start looking around for frogs and locusts.

View All Commentaries