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Chargers bolt San Diego to become second NFL team in 2 years to move to LA

  • Author: Alex Dobuzinskis, Reuters
  • Updated: January 12, 2017
  • Published January 12, 2017

San Diego Chargers’ President and Chief Executive Dean Spanos wears a headset during an interview at the NFL team’s headquarters in San Diego, California January 9, 2013. (Mike Blake/File Photo/Reuters)

LOS ANGELES — The San Diego Chargers said on Thursday they are moving to Los Angeles beginning this upcoming NFL season, ending sometimes tense negotiations for a new stadium in the city where the sports franchise has played for more than five decades.

Starting this fall, the Los Angeles area will have two National Football League teams in a potential boon to the region's leisure and tourism industry. The nation's second-largest city had no NFL team from 1994 until the St. Louis Rams moved and began playing there last year.

The Chargers were founded in 1960 and played their first season in Los Angeles before moving to San Diego. Team owner Dean Spanos said in an open letter on the team's website that the city had since shaped the team's identity.

"But today, we turn the page and begin an exciting new era as the Los Angeles Chargers," Spanos wrote.

In November, San Diego voters rejected a ballot measure that would have raised hotel occupancy taxes to help pay for a proposed $1.8 billion downtown stadium project.

The team and its supporters have actively sought a new stadium for nearly a decade and Spanos for a time negotiated with city officials over the proposal. The team became increasingly frustrated due to their inability to obtain a stadium.

San Diego City Councilman Chris Cate in a statement said he was not surprised by the move as the negotiations hit a standstill in 2015.

"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," NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said in a statement.

Last month, the franchise made preparations for the impending relocation, leasing a portion of an Orange County office facility and working to secure nearby land for practice fields.

"The Chargers will make our NFL tradition even richer and give sports fans everywhere one more reason to be in Los Angeles," Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti said in a statement.

Some Chargers fans were in a far less celebratory mood.

"The @Chargers have officially broken up with #SanDiego & in turn the majority of their fans," a San Diego resident who writes under the name Laurenator said on Twitter.

The reluctance of San Diego officials and residents in recent years to provide public funds for a stadium was unusual for a U.S. city, said David Carter, executive director of the Sports Business Institute at the University of Southern California.

Going forward, the Chargers will have a more difficult time attracting fans than the Rams, who were based in the Los Angeles area until 1994, Carter said in a phone interview.

The Chargers will temporarily play at the 30,000-seat StubHub Center in the Los Angeles suburb of Carson, the team said. Its current stadium in San Diego seats more than 71,000 people.

San Diego Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers looks on from the sideline during a loss to the Oakland Raiders at Qualcomm Stadium on Dec. 18, 2016. (Orlando Ramirez / USA TODAY Sports)

The Chargers said they will eventually join the Rams at a futuristic $2.6 billion stadium, which will be built by Rams' owner Stan Kroenke in the Los Angeles suburb of Inglewood and is projected to open in 2019.

The Chargers will pay a relocation fee to the league of $650 million, according to The NFL Network, a cable and satellite television network owned by the league.

A representative for the Chargers could not immediately be reached for comment on the relocation fee.

Additional reporting by Steve Keating in Toronto, Ben Klayman in Detroit and Melissa Fares in New York.

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