Los Angeles (AFP) – The San Diego Chargers confirmed Thursday the franchise will make a controversial move to Los Angeles next season after failing to reach a deal on a new stadium at their existing home.
A letter from Chargers owner Dean Spanos posted on the team’s website confirmed the team would end a 56-year stay in San Diego and exercise an option granted by the National Football League last year to relocate north to Los Angeles.
“After much deliberation, I have made the decision to relocate the Chargers to Los Angeles, beginning with the 2017 NFL season,” Spanos wrote.
“San Diego has been our home for 56 years. 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.
“But today, we turn the page and begin an exciting new era as the Los Angeles Chargers.”
First reports of the Chargers’ decision were greeted with anger by fans. A small group of supporters gathered at the team’s headquarters where one fan pelted the building with eggs to register his dismay.
The move means Los Angeles has now acquired two NFL franchises in the space of a year after going more than two decades without a team.
The St. Louis Rams returned to the city last season and now the Chargers have followed suit.
In negotiations last year to secure the Rams return, the Chargers won the right to co-habit the Rams new multi-billion-dollar stadium being built in Inglewood, which is due to be ready for the 2019 season.
The Rams played their games at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum this season.
The Chargers said in a statement they will play their games at the 30,000-capacity StubHub Center, home of the Los Angeles Galaxy Major League Soccer side.
The Chargers decision comes after the failure of a San Diego ballot measure to raise hotel room taxes in the city in order to provide public funding for a new stadium.
“Our ultimate goal is to bring LA a Super Bowl championship,” Chargers president of football operations John Spanos said Thursday.
“When we say we will fight for LA, this is the essence of our pledge.”
The Chargers may not be the last team to up sticks to a new city. The Oakland Raiders are also agitating for permission to move to Las Vegas from their northern California home.