A meeting of National Football League team owners that could determine the future home of Chargers after 55 years in San Diego is scheduled to begin today in Houston.
After several months of collecting information from teams and the three cities in danger of losing them, the owners could start making decisions on which team, or teams, will move to the Los Angeles area.
The potentially lucrative Los Angeles market has been without an NFL entrant for 20 years. The Chargers, Oakland Raiders and St. Louis Rams are vying to become the team that brings professional football back to the L.A. metropolitan area.
“We’ll just have to wait and see what happens,” Chargers owner Dean Spanos said when confronted by reporters in a Houston hotel lobby Monday. He reiterated that he will abide by whatever decisions his fellow owners make.
It remains unclear whether any decisions made by the owners this week will be final, and speculation has swirled regarding various scenarios. Media discussion in the past few days has coalesced around reports that the Chargers and Rams would share a facility in Inglewood.
Spanos has wanted a replacement for aging Qualcomm Stadium for around 15 years, a quest stymied thus far by the city of San Diego’s fiscal problems of a decade ago, the recession and difficulty in finding a suitable site.
When Rams owner Stan Kroenke about a year ago proposed building a stadium on land he owns in Inglewood, on the site of the old Hollywood Park, the Chargers responded by announcing plans to construct their own playing facility in Carson — possibly in concert with the Raiders. The Chargers contend that 25 percent of their business comes from Los Angeles, Orange County and the Inland Empire.
Mayor Kevin Faulconer countered by establishing a task force that recommended building a new facility next to Qualcomm Stadium. The Chargers broke off negotiations on the proposal in June. The team’s refusal to restart talks prevented what could have been a citywide vote on the proposal this month.
On Saturday, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell distributed a report to owners that said plans by San Diego, Oakland and St. Louis are “unsatisfactory and inadequate.” Among other things, the league objects to uncertainty created by San Diego’s demand that plans for a stadium project be put before voters — something the Chargers once supported.
Chris Melvin, an attorney and lead negotiator for the city and county of San Diego, said Sunday that the Chargers created their own uncertainty.
“We could have already gained voter approval of a stadium under the plan laid out this summer by the city and county,” Melvin said. “But the Chargers stonewalled, rebuffed attempts to negotiate a term sheet, and refused to act. Despite all this, San Diego has proven that it’s a region that supports its major league teams.”
It has long been believed that while neither the Inglewood nor Carson projects had the 24 votes needed for approval by the NFL owners, league officials are committed to a return to Los Angeles this year. That situation led to recent talks among the owners and league executives to establish a consensus in time for the Houston meeting.
Spanos rejected a partnership with Kroenke in a letter to Goodell last month, and reiterated his support for the Carson project and Raiders owner Mark Davis.
In brief comments to reporters in the hotel lobby, Spanos said he and Davis have worked hard on the Carson project for more than one year. He said he hopes for a resolution this week.