By Joe Mathews.
No one wants the San Diego Chargers.
A last-ditch ballot measure to support a new stadium for the NFL team (as part of a convention center next to Petco Park) is all but certain to fail on the November ballot. It would raise the hotel tax to help fund the project, and it would need a 2/3 vote, and seems unlikely to get even a majority. The Chargers have been seeking a new stadium for 15 years—and this is the last gasp.
So when the stadium plan fails, the Chargers are expected to leave. But where will they go?
They have the right, at least until early next year, to move to Los Angeles. But L.A. doesn’t want them—they are far less popular than the Rams, who just moved. And the Rams are struggling to build an audience in LA. The Rams also are building a stadium in Inglewood—the Chargers would be an unwelcome second tenant. L.A. doesn’t make sense.
So where? Las Vegas? The Oakland Raiders have beaten the Chargers to that opportunity, though it’s unclear if Vegas will put up the public dollars the Raiders are demanding for a stadium. St. Louis, which lost the Rams to L.A., could take the Chargers in, perhaps, but the Chargers would be going to a market that has lost two NFL teams.
It’s hard to think of another city in the U.S. that would come up with the dough for the Chargers. The public is much more aware of what bad public investments stadiums are. And the Chargers are unappealing; they don’t have a national following, and their owning family – the Spanos – have not been good at running the team.
Indeed, the best thing for the Chargers would be for the Spanos to sell. And then for a new owner to think about moving the team south of the border, where building a stadium would be cheaper, and where the Chargers would bring Mexico into the top league of the #1 sport in the U.S.