Chargers to file relocation papers


throwing a pigskin

Photos Courtesy of Nathan Rupert/Flickr

It has been a trying season for the San Diego Chargers, to be sure. Following an offseason filled with crumbling contract negotiations and the looming possibility of the team’s move to Los Angeles, the Bolts have done little to convince San Diego to fight to keep its football franchise. Sitting in last place in the AFC West at just 2-6, the team has seemed to demonstrate a knack for falling heartbreakingly short of victories.

A touchdown run by the Steelers on the last play of the game. The Packers’ goal line stand to preserve a single-score lead.  A last-second field goal by the Ravens this past Sunday. An embarrassing loss to the rival Raiders that was never as close as the final score might indicate.

These were just two-thirds of the team’s losses, and halfway through the season the they appear destined for one of the worst records in the conference.

Now, it appears the organization may even fall short of fans’ hopes of remaining in town beyond the 2015 season. In a radio interview with The Mighty 1090 this past week, team counsel Mark Fabiani announced the team’s intent to file relocation papers for Los Angeles in January.

This news came in spite of perceived progress on possible stadium plans both downtown and on the grounds of the Chargers’ current home in Mission Valley.

These plans, of course, do not at all solidify a move to Los Angeles. The biggest motive behind filing for relocation remains the ability to keep pace in the race to L.A. with the Raiders and the Rams, both of whom also appear to be vying for a spot in sunny Southern California in the future.

“If everything is moving ahead, obviously we’re not going to be standing on the sidelines and watching everything go by,” Fabiani said.

By not filing necessary paperwork, the Chargers would put themselves in a situation that would leave them without a home and threaten the franchise as a whole if plans to remain in San Diego cannot be worked out.

Unfortunately, this also appears to be the view of the few stubborn and optimistic fans left in the game. The realistic fact of the matter is that, come January, the Chargers will file forms asking the NFL for permission to move to Los Angeles.

Chargers owner Dean Spanos is rumored to have several friends in the league office that would help push through an L.A.-directed initiative.

Spanos has also made a clear effort on several occasions to find fault in stadium plans proposed by the city, demonstrating what has been described as a desire to leave San Diego unless a magical stadium solution becomes plausible.

This perception has frustrated longtime Bolts fans such as the ones that filled the downtown Spreckels Theater just a few days after the relocation announcement was made. At the meeting, Chargers fans were given a chance to make their voice heard to Fabiani and other representatives from the NFL offices, such as executive vice president Eric Grubman.

The meeting was long on frustration and short on rationale, but the fans ultimately left feeling as though they had successfully aired their anger with the franchise.

Chargers fans here on campus have expressed similar sentiments regarding the situation.  Most, such as sophomore Bryce Henry, have expected an eventual move because of the tensions created by ongoing stadium negotiations with the city.

“It’s not surprising since Qualcomm has needed to be revamped or torn down for almost 10 years now,” Henry said.  “Plans for a new stadium have not been to the liking of the city or the team.”

In spite of this, many also admit that it will hard to see the hometown team leave.

Engineering student Chandler Rogers described his reaction to the possibility of a move.

“I was very sad because I grew up a Chargers fan and it felt like a huge part of San Diego was being taken away,” Rogers said.

Most college-age fans are old enough to remember the 2007 and 2008 playoff runs, and the heroic exploits of franchise cornerstones like LaDainian Tomlinson, Antonio Gates, Darren Sproles, and Vincent Jackson are still fresh in their minds.

Will these memories be enough to keep fans around if the team does  move?  When asked, Rogers responded with a definitive yes.

“I will always be a Chargers fan,” Rogers said. “It can be hard sometimes, and it will definitely be rough after the move, but I’ll stick with my team.”

Henry echoed this sentiment.

“Emotionally it’ll be hard,” Henry said. “If I’m being honest, they’re the only team I’ve ever rooted for.”

Now the attention will swing once again toward the city and their attempts to find a reasonable solution to the Chargers’ longtime stadium woes. The franchise has shown favoritism towards a downtown site that would build off of the current convention center.

If this were to come to fruition, it would likely take some architectural squeezing because of the real estate obstacles of the crowded downtown area.

The city’s preferred site of Mission Valley, meanwhile, must take into account tough-to-meet environmental regulations. These regulations would require a review process that would be lengthy and time-consuming.

It is worth noting that Governor Jerry Brown has expedited the review process in a last-ditch effort to keep the team in the 619.

Chargers fans still have hopes of continuing to root for the blue-and-gold in a new, local stadium.

The team has been in San Diego for almost 50 years, and as a result fans will not let them go without a fight.  However, given the attitude of team brass, the NFL’s legitimate desire for multiple L.A. franchises in the near future, and the Bolts’ ongoing struggles this season, the hope of keeping the Chargers in America’s Finest City appears to be dying.

Rather than going out in a flash, the Chargers’ light is beginning to flicker out. The San Diego faithful will soon have to confront the very real possibility of watching their team head north as early as next year.