Comments by a Los Angeles Chargers official cast new light on whether team is considering returning to San Diego.
The Chargers‘ move to Los Angeles has been difficult thus far. As the team has fallen to 0-4, the StubHub center has closed off large portions of the stadium due to poor attendance. Naturally, rumors about the Chargers returning to San Diego have begun to surface.
However, according to NFL Network’s Ian Rapaport, an unnamed team official stated: “We’re not going back.”
The unnamed Chargers official has support from the NFL’s league office; NFL spokesman Joe Lockhart stated:
“There are no discussions of returning to San Diego from the league or from the club.”
Rapaport believes that, financially, the the team is too invested in Los Angeles to leave. He states:
“The Chargers have invested more than a million dollars in a training camp facility. Tens of millions in a temporary training facility. Tens more millions to spruce up the StubHub Center.”
The Chargers, at 0-4, are at the very bottom of the NFL– joined by the Cleveland Browns, San Francisco 49ers and their opponent Sunday, the New York Giants. While the team has a few good pieces to build around, there simply is not enough healthy talent on the roster to compete with the behemoths of the AFC West.
Moving both the Rams and the Chargers to Los Angeles in such a short period of time was probably a mistake. The NFL over-saturated the Los Angeles market; a market which now has two NFL teams, two MLB teams, two NBA teams, an NHL team, a WNBA team and two major collegiate athletic programs.
It is going to take time for either of the NFL teams in Los Angeles to develop an enthusiastic fan base. The Rams were given a head start in the “Battle for L.A.” because they were previously based in Los Angeles.
In December 2016, the Chargers were offered a 99-year lease (at $1 per year) to remain at Qualcomm Stadium— they rejected that offer before choosing to move the franchise to Los Angeles.
Currently, if the Chargers want to sell tickets in a city complete with an array of large sports and entertainment options, they need to win. Unfortunately, it could take another rebuilding year for the Chargers to become legitimate contenders in the AFC West; which means another year of empty stadium sections and poor merchandising sales.
At the moment, the Chargers are completing their first year of a two-year lease at the StubHub Center.
If the Chargers were to move in the immediate future — which, telling by the statements from the league, is unlikely — they would have to violate the terms of their lease with the StubHub Center, which could cost the team tens of millions of dollars.
As of now, it seems like the Chargers will stay put.