The Jan. 15 deadline for the San Diego Chargers to tell the NFL whether they will be joining the Rams in Los Angeles is this Sunday. While there is still the possibility the Chargers will ask for an extension of the deadline, our sources are telling us Chargers owner Dean Spanos is leaning toward a decision sooner rather than later, and we’re told it may not be what most are expecting.
A decision by Spanos to make the move to Los Angeles would be personally painful for him and his family, but certainly not difficult.
Financially, the opportunity in Los Angeles is a can’t-miss, expensive in the short-term but practically guaranteed to be extremely lucrative in the long run.
But unlike Rams owner Stan Kroenke, who couldn’t wait to leave St. Louis Rams fans whistling in the wind, Spanos doesn’t want to be the guy who deserted his home, neighbors and friends to chase the NFL’s strange vision and certain riches.
NFL fans refused to support the Rams the first time around and let the Raiders come and go as well.
Clearly there were stadium issues, and nothing in L.A. vaguely resembling the football and entertainment palace Kroenke is building and being forced to offer tenancy in to either the Chargers or Raiders.
But the fact that TV ratings actually improved markedly in L.A. after the Raiders and Rams were gone has to give one pause to wonder why Los Angeles residents will support these two clubs, particularly if they both continue to be among the worst in the league as they are now.
Roger Goodell’s fixation on putting a team back in L.A. has been a mystery to many insiders and experts we talked to from the jump.
While that is and should be a concern to Spanos, we hear the bigger issue is financial and exactly what Spanos is going to get for his trouble and his bucks.
The NFL has agreed to finance the Chargers relocation fee and stretch the payments out over 30 years, but it will still cost Spanos $650 million to move to Los Angeles and become Kroenke's tenant. Spanos will also have to build new offices and practice facilities for the team in the area.
It’s safe to say Spanos will spend at least $700 million to move to L.A. and rent space in Kroenke’s building.
It is believed Spanos would share in all his parking and concession dollars and that he can sell PSLs to season-ticket holders, but it’s unclear what piece, if any, Spanos would get of other events held at the complex beyond NFL games.
The Way We Hear It, Spanos was working up to the 11th hour to determine exactly how much money he could get from the city of San Diego and the NFL to build his own complex and stay put with the thinking being why spend $700 million for the right to rent if I can spend that or a bit more to own.
Our sources are telling us Spanos is also concerned that contrary to popular opinion, a significant number of loyal Charger fans will not be willing to shell out big bucks for PSLs and/or season tickets to make the roughly two hours each way drive to L.A. 8-10 times a year.
A lifetime competition with the Rams for the hearts of notoriously fickle Los Angeles NFL fans may not be the best way to spend $700 million.
According to our sources, Spanos was at least 60-40 or stronger on finding a way to stay in San Diego right up to his drop-dead date to make the call.