The Chargers have bolted.
They said so long to San Diego, their home for more than a half-century, with an announcement by owner Dean Spanos on Thursday morning that the franchise will relocate 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 in the statement. “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.”
The Chargers also released a new logo for the occasion: white letters L and A on a blue field with a lightning bolt serving as the bottom of the L and going across the A. Reports suggest that logo is just to attract attention to the move, however, and will not be used in any uniform designs or official team business.
The move came ahead of a league-mandated deadline of Tuesday for a decision on the team’s future.
The finality of the news was met with surprise despite years of threats regarding a move. In November, San Diego voters rejected a measure that would have helped pay for a proposed $1.8-billion downtown stadium project by raising hotel occupancy taxes. NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said last month at the winter league meeting that “no great progress” had come about in finding a solution to San Diego’s stadium issue.
The Chargers last month leased part of an Orange County office facility to serve as their home base for what was at the time a potential move to Los Angeles.
It was a busy day for the Chargers, who reportedly were set to hire former Bills offensive coordinator Anthony Lynn as their new head coach.
Spanos told Goodell, other league officials and a few team owners of his intention to announce the move after meetings in New York on Wednesday, the NFL Network reported.
“Relocation is painful for teams and communities,” Goodell said in a statement after the announcement by the Chargers. “It is especially painful for fans, and the fans in San Diego have given the Chargers strong and loyal support for more than 50 years, which makes it even more disappointing that we could not solve the stadium issue. As difficult as the news is for Charger fans, I know Dean Spanos and his family did everything they could to try to find a viable solution in San Diego.”
Los Angeles now will have a second NFL team after decades without any. The Rams moved there last year and played their home games at the Los Angeles Coliseum while awaiting construction of a new stadium in Inglewood, which is due to be completed for the 2019 season. That stadium eventually will be home to both teams, with the Chargers as tenants.
The 30,000-seat StubHub Center in Carson, California, will be the Chargers’ temporary home field until construction is completed on the new stadium.
“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,” Spanos wrote. “We must earn the respect and support of L.A. football fans. We must get back to winning. And we must make a meaningful contribution, not just on the field but off the field as a leader and champion for the community.
“The Chargers are determined to fight for L.A. and we are excited to get started.”