Last night, the San Diego Chargers were granted a wish.
Only it was not their actual wish.
Owner Dean Spanos has been given one year by the NFL to either negotiate a deal with the now-L.A. Rams and owner Stan Kroenke for co-habitation of the Inglewood stadium, or to decide to remain in San Diego, with a $100 million boost from the league to go towards a stadium venture there.
Spanos is reportedly the sentimental favorite of the three owners who applied for relocation to the Los Angeles market, seeing as how he is the most tenured one and has been in San Diego for decades. The quagmire is that Spanos reportedly does not have a trusted, working relationship with Kroenke and is balking at being yolked together with him in this huge undertaking. The initial vote by the recommending committee was approving of the Carson, CA project, which was the one headed by former Disney Chair Bob Iger and a co-venture of the Chargers and Oakland Raiders. This was only for the facility, not a vote for the teams to inhabit it. Then, upon more deliberation, ownership decided to forego the recommendation, and voted to ratify the Rams' Inglewood stadium plan, thus approving the Rams relocation forthwith because the Rams were the only team that wanted that location.
there is strong opposition to the Raiders in LA among owners, I am told.— Judy Battista (@judybattista) January 12, 2016
Next was the business of identifying the team to accompany the Rams, if any. Not only was Spanos the favorite of fellow owners, but there was a reported sentiment against the Raiders returning to Los Angeles, according to Judy Battista of NFL.com. So, the unspoken mission became, convince Spanos to work with Kroenke and bring his team a couple hours north. The way this is being done, the route decided on, is not the favorite of either of the California camps. Especially the Raiders, who elected to pull themselves out of the consideration but could get back in with a forfeit by the Chargers. The Chargers simply had different hopes, and now have a decision to make. Can Spanos get to know Kroenke, who got a decided vote of confidence (30-2) from NFL ownership, in this time frame, well enough to either partner with or join as a tenant? Or, does he pin his hopes on the June referendum to be voted on in San Diego, for public funding towards a new stadium, to the tune of $350 million?
I asked #Chargers Dean Spanos last night if he voted against Inglewood. He said: "I voted for myself. If that's what you're asking me, yeah"— Charles Robinson (@CharlesRobinson) January 13, 2016
To be clear, San Diego has until the end of the owner's meetings in March (20-23) to determine if they are going to play in Los Angeles in 2016. This could still happen. Otherwise, it's very fluid; there are tons of possibilities and no one knows for sure what could happen.
What cannot happen at this point is the Chargers coming up with a new plan and location in L.A. They either have to join Kroenke and the Rams in Inglewood, remain in San Diego, or set their sights on another city. The question of 2016 hovers ominously like those spaceships over cities in "Independence Day." (Note--Without Will Smith, it ain't ID4.)
As for Spanos, he simply said that he is going to "take a day off" and "look at all our options." He said the latter will happen over the course of weeks.
Prediction: I think the Chargers will play in Pasadena for 2016, and then officially join the Inglewood facility effort early next year. Clearly, they want to get out of San Diego, and the benefits of the City of Angels are too rich to turn aside because of a personal hang-up.