The soap opera that is the Chargers quest for Los Angeles has apparently hit yet another road block. It seems negotiations between the two sides have screeched to a halt and now it seems likely the Bolts will be back in San Diego for at least the 2016 season.
XTRA Sports 1360 radio host Steve Hartman says he spoke to a Rams official who told him the Chargers and Rams have come to an impasse in their talks. The two teams have been trying to come to an agreement on a move that would allow the Chargers to join the Rams in their new NFL stadium in Inglewood.
The biggest issue has been finding a business relationship that works for both sides. The Rams have offered either a lease agreement or an equity partnership. Chargers owner Dean Spanos has been mulling the ideas for almost a full two weeks, with active negotiations going on at least half that time, and still no decision has been made.
The NFL has installed a March 23 deadline for the Bolts to make their decision so the league can finalize schedules and all the other business of getting ready for the 2016 season.
Even before that, Spanos and his team would have to inform the City of San Diego that they plan to renew their yearly lease to play at Qualcomm Stadium. Chargers Special Counsel Mark Fabiani has said the preference is for the team to work out a deal and move to Los Angeles but not ruled out a return, however brief, to San Diego.
As they continue to “crunch the numbers,” as Chargers President of Business Operations A.G. Spanos put it to NBC 7 SportsWrap, the franchise has placed itself in a kind of limbo. They’re losing time in Los Angeles to potentially market the team and earn fans, something that will be difficult with a team like the Rams (who played in the L.A. area from 1946 to 1994) already having a strong presence there.
If the Chargers do decide to play back in San Diego one more season they can still try to negotiate a deal with the Rams all the way up until January 17 of 2017. They also have the option of putting Los Angeles completely on the back-burner and focusing on trying to build a stadium in San Diego again.
The difficult part of that is San Diego City and County officials have made it clear they have no desire to be a simple placeholder and will not work with Spanos unless he truly puts all his efforts in to either a Mission Valley or Downtown stadium, keeping the Chargers in their home since 1961 for the long-term.
There is also the issue that any stadium in S.D. would have to be put before the public in a vote. Spanos and Fabiani have upset a large portion of the fan base and the San Diego community with their actions and statements over the last several months so, even if the team and Mayor Faulconer can come to an agreement on a new facility, there is certainly no guarantee it would be approved by the people.
Spanos has put himself in to a difficult situation. He does not have the leverage to dictate negotiations in either spot. Now instead of, as his head coach likes to say, “Doing what he thinks is best for the football team,” he may simply have to accept the lesser of two evils. Figuring out what that is will be the tricky part.