Reacting to the San Diego Chargers’ announced move to Los Angeles, a frustrated Mayor Kevin Faulconer said team owner Dean Spanos “made a bad decision” that he will come to regret.
“In the end, the Chargers were asking for a lot more taxpayer money than we could ever agree to,” Faulconer said at a Jan. 12 morning news conference at City Hall. “We are going to do what’s in the best interests of San Diego.”
Faulconer and other officials did not outline the city’s next response, as Faulconer prepared to give his annual State of the City address later in the day. Going forward, the mayor said officials will be focused on issues including improving local infrastructure and providing affordable housing.
The mayor said the Chargers declined on multiple occasions over the past two years to consider Mission Valley stadium plans that were put forward by local officials, including most recently an offer for the Chargers to lease the current site of Qualcomm Stadium for $1 annually for 99 years. As recently as late December, Spanos had held discussions with representatives from the city, county and San Diego State University.
City and county officials had previously proposed contributing about $350 million toward a new stadium in Mission Valley. The Chargers and NFL had planned to contribute approximately $650 million, but the Chargers were focused in recent months only on downtown San Diego.
San Diego voters in November rejected the Chargers’ proposed 4 percent hike in hotel taxes, intended to fund much of the cost of a $1.8 billion East Village stadium with convention facilities.
In recent days, Spanos said the decision to leave was a difficult one. However, the team had already built a new ticket-sales website and renamed the team the Los Angeles Chargers before the official announcement of the departure early on the morning of Jan. 12.
“San Diego has been our home for 56 years,” said Spanos in a team statement. “It will always be part of our identity, and my family and I have nothing but gratitude and appreciation for the support and passion our fans have shared with us over the years.”
The Chargers are now focused on building a new identity in the Los Angeles market, starting with games that will be played at Carson’s StubHub Center for the next two seasons. Beginning in 2019, the team will play in a $2.66 billion Inglewood stadium being built by Los Angeles Rams owner Stan Kroenke.