SAN DIEGO – Chargers chairman Dean Spanos said Friday that the team will play in San Diego in 2016, and he’ll work with politicians and the business community to try to resolve a long, bitter battle over a new stadium.
Spanos’ statement was posted on the team website shortly after a report said the Chargers had reached a deal to join the Los Angeles Rams in a stadium expected to open in Inglewood in 2019.
“I am committed to looking at this with a fresh perspective and new sense of possibility,” Spanos’ statement said.
The development was a relief to fans who feared the Chargers would leave their home of 55 seasons and join the Rams in Los Angeles in the fall.
Spanos said he hoped the Chargers would remain in San Diego “for the long term in a new stadium.”
He said he had met with Mayor Kevin Faulconer and County Supervisor Ron Roberts “and I look forward to working closely with them and the business community to resolve our stadium dilemma. We have an option and an agreement with the Los Angeles Rams to go to Inglewood in the next year, but my focus is on San Diego.
“This has been our home for 55 years, and I want to keep the team here and provide the world-class stadium experience you deserve,” Spanos said. “Everyone on both sides of the table in San Diego must now determine the best next steps and how to deploy the additional resources provided by the NFL.”
Spanos’ announcement came just more than two weeks after NFL owners voted to approve Rams owner Stan Kroenke’s plans to build a stadium in Inglewood near Los Angeles. A competing proposal by Spanos and Oakland Raiders owner Mark Davis to build a stadium in Carson was defeated.
While the owners gave Spanos the option to relocate to Los Angeles, the league said the Chargers and Raiders would each get an additional $100 million to try to get new stadium deals in their home markets. That money is in addition to a $200 million loan from the league available to each team.
“We are very supportive of the decision by Dean Spanos to continue his efforts in San Diego and work with local leaders to develop a permanent stadium solution,” commissioner Roger Goodell said in a statement. “NFL ownership has committed $300 million to assist in the cost of building a new stadium in San Diego. I have pledged the league’s full support in helping Dean to fulfill his goal.”
Faulconer has held firm to his offer of $350 million in public money for a new stadium at the site of aging Qualcomm Stadium. He has also insisted that the measure be approved by voters.
Meanwhile, Oakland Raiders owner Mark Davis, whose NFL club does not have a stadium lease for next season, was meeting Friday with officials in Las Vegas about plans for a $1 billion domed stadium in the gambling showplace.
The Las Vegas Review-Journal and ESPN reported the meeting between Davis, who is looking for a new home for his team, and Sands Corporation chairman and chief executive Sheldon Adelson, who wants to build a 65,000-seat stadium with a combination of taxpayer and private money.
The Raiders had sought a move to Los Angeles but backed off earlier this month as owners approved the St. Louis Rams moving back to Los Angeles while giving the San Diego Chargers an option to join them in LA as part of a new stadium project.
The Raiders would have a chance to join the Rams in LA if the Chargers say no, but with San Diego having up to a year to decide and his team needing some certainty for next season, Davis has spoken to Oakland officials about playing there another year.
He has also been in communication with San Antonio officials about making a move to South Texas into Alamodome and later a new stadium.
The University of Las Vegas is seeking a new home for its football team after years in 35,000-seat Sam Boyd Stadium and would be interested in the new stadium project even without an NFL tenant.
“We are moving forward with the stadium concept with or without an NFL team,” Sands senior vice president of government relations and community development Andy Abboud told the Review-Journal.