Bruised San Diego Chargers fans remain leery of the hope that their team will stay in town after the organization lobbied hard for a transfer to Los Angeles and lost–for the next year, at least.
It was a long road to the Chargers’ announcement last Friday that they would play the 2016 season in San Diego at their long-time Qualcomm Stadium home.
The San Diego Union-Tribune asked locals at a North Park area bar on Saturday to comment on their feelings toward the team after the Friday announcement. The Tribune described the bulk of responses as “disillusioned, and ambivalent at best.”
It was almost three weeks ago that the 32 NFL team owners voted to green light the Rams to return to the L.A. market and build a $1.86 billion stadium in Inglewood. Plans for a proposed joint Chargers-Raiders stadium in the Carson area did not win approval at that meeting, but the Chargers were given a one-year option to decide whether to join the Rams in L.A. If the Chargers decline, the Raiders could pick up the ball. However, the NFL has offered the Raiders and Chargers each $100 million to remain in their current home cities.
At an NFL town-hall-style meeting last October–leading up to the determination that the Chargers would have a L.A. option–San Diegans lined up to weigh in on the potential move. Several locals identifying themselves as long-time season ticket holders lobbied for their team to stay in town. Flocks of local fans inside and outside the venue showed their “Save Our Bolts” enthusiasm for keeping their team put with shouts, signs and Chargers regalia.
The Chargers have spent over 50 years–all of the team’s existence save one year–in San Diego. The Rams and Raiders each left Los Angeles in 1994, the Rams after 49 years there and the Raiders after 14. Now it’s the Rams making a sure return. The Raiders could still have a shot at L.A. if the Chargers choose not to exercise their one-year option.
The City of San Diego has proposed a $1.1 billion stadium project where the current Qualcomm Stadium now stands. and California Governor Jerry Brown has pledged support to expedite the burdensome environmental review process for the new project.
Follow Michelle Moons on Twitter @MichelleDiana