After numerous failed attempts to land a new stadium in their longtime San Diego home, the Chargers have decided to flee the coop and move to Los Angeles.
Dean Spanos, the team’s chairman, made the announcement Thursday morning, saying his players would begin the 2017 season as the “Los Angeles Chargers.”
“Today we turn the page and begin an exciting new era,” he said in a statement. “L.A. is a remarkable place, and while we played our first season there in 1960 and have had fans there ever since, our entire organization knows that we have a tremendous amount of work to do.”
The team will eventually join the Los Angeles Rams at a new, 80,000-seat stadium at Hollywood Park in Inglewood, slated to finish construction in 2019. Until then, the Chargers will play at the much smaller StubHub Center in Carson.
“This is a unique opportunity to see NFL action in such an intimate setting,” said A.G. Spanos, president of business operations, in the statement.
Inglewood Mayor James Butts cheered the move.
“Who says lightning doesn’t strike in the same place twice,” Butts said in an email. “We welcome the Chargers with open arms and look forward to supporting both teams.”
The much-anticipated decision comes a few weeks after news that the Chargers were looking at Costa Mesa as a potential base of operations. The team had agreed to lease office space and a land parcel in the Orange County city, contingent on committing to Los Angeles.
With that decision now made, the deal will stay in place for the Chargers to lease 101,000 square feet of office space at the Hive at 3333 S. Susan St., as well as a 3.2-acre land parcel next door slated to house practice and training facilities.
NFL officials gave the Chargers the option to move to Los Angeles last January, when they signed off on the Rams’ move from St. Louis. But the Chargers – who have spent 15 years trying to land a new stadium in San Diego – did not jump at the idea. Dean Spanos instead backed a proposal that would finance a new stadium and convention center in San Diego, but voters rejected the idea in November.
Jeff Marks, president of sports marketing company Premier Ventures in Los Angeles, said the year-long wait to pull the plug on San Diego helped the Chargers make the best choice to ensure success on and off the field.
“The Spanos family exhausted all options and were diligent in their evaluation of the opportunity,” he said. “It’s no different than when a CEO of a Fortune 500 company has to make a difficult decision that is in the best interest of shareholders, customers, and employees.”
Although the Chargers first sprung up in Los Angeles in 1960, the team moved to San Diego the following year.
Along with news of the move up north, the Chargers released their new logo: the letters “L.A.” in white on a dark blue background, reminiscent of the team’s long-held lightning bolt motif.