San Diego Chargers owner Dean Spanos made it official Thursday morning. He is moving the franchise to Los Angeles.
The team released the following statement from Spanos:
“After much deliberation, I have made the decision to relocate the Chargers to Los Angeles, beginning with the 2017 NFL season.
"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.
"LA 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. We must earn the respect and support of LA 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.
Spanos had informed NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and some fellow owners Wednesday he intended to move the franchise to Los Angeles, abandoning the team's home of 56 years to start over in a new market and share a futuristic new stadium with the Los Angeles Rams, a person with knowledge of the situation told USA TODAY Sports.
The person requested anonymity because Spanos had not yet told the team's staff or San Diego officials about his decision, which was first reported Wednesday night by ESPN.
Under an NFL agreement reached one year ago, the Chargers had until Tuesday to decide whether to join the Rams in Inglewood, near the L.A. airport.
The mayor of Inglewood, James Butts, told USA TODAY Sports late Wednesday that he is scheduled to talk with Spanos Thursday about possibly holding a news conference in Inglewood next week. The new stadium is scheduled to open there in 2019. In the meantime, the person with knowledge of the situation said the Chargers have an agreement to play at least the next two seasons in the StubHub Center in nearby Carson.
In recent months, Spanos came to believe he had no other viable business choice but to move to L.A. If the Chargers didn’t take this opportunity in L.A., their only other certain option in San Diego was to keep playing indefinitely at Qualcomm Stadium, which opened in 1967.
The latter is one of the oldest and worst stadiums in the NFL, and the Chargers have been trying for 15 years to replace it with a modern, lucrative new facility. But they never could reach a deal on how to pay for it with the city of San Diego, leading the team to look 120 miles north for alternatives while also trying to protect its turf in Southern California.
The Chargers owe the city of San Diego $12.575 million for the early termination of their lease, which was set to expire after the 2020 season. The team also would have to pay a relocation fee of $550 million to $650 million, which could be paid back over 10 years or more.
San Diego previously lost two NBA teams to other cities: the Clippers and Rockets. The San Diego Sports Arena where both teams played opened a year prior to Qualcomm Stadium and is still being used by the Gulls, a minor-league hockey affiliate of the NHL’s Anaheim Ducks. The NBA never came back.
With the Chargers, Los Angeles now has two NFL teams after going 21 years without any, until last year, when the Rams moved back from St. Louis. The Chargers played one season in L.A. in 1960 before moving to San Diego in 1961.