With so much focus on the St. Louis Rams, the San Diego Chargers have been flying under the media radar…until now. Although Rams owner Stan Kroenke has purchased the land that will eventually house a stadium, San Diego is saying, don’t count them out.
Seems like Inglewood is the hottest spot in town for future professional football. And with the Rams, San Diego Chargers and Oakland Raiders near the end of their stadium leases, relocation to the Los Angeles market is looking pretty good. While there has been plenty of talk about new stadiums in St. Louis, in San Diego and the proposed Farmers Field in downtown Los Angeles, Inglewood is the closest city to actually make this “field of dreams” come true.
With Kroenke, the billionaire NFL Franchise owner, already invested in Inglewood, more than enough signatures gathered to pass the initiative for the 80,000-seat stadium, and none of the money coming from taxpayer pockets, there is very little competition now.
ESPN reported an advisory team in San Diego is in the process of finding a new stadium for the Chargers to play in. According to reports, the city expanded Qualcomm Stadium in 1997. Just three years later, owner Alex Spanos said the team needed a new one. The problem is Qualcomm has fallen into disrepair and lacks the modern amenities the team says it needs to compete financially with other franchises.
The same problem exists in St. Louis. Officials there have proposed a riverfront stadium with about 64,000 seats. But the city would have to relocate a power plant just to do it. Meanwhile, it is all open space and smooth sailing in Inglewood.
Now that Inglewood is the talk of the town in football, the pressure in San Diego is on. Competition from the Rams has put fire under the Chargers to protect their turf. As the only NFL team in Southern California since the Rams and Raiders left, the franchise has enjoyed 20 year pro football monopoly. About 25% of San Diego ticket sales come from fans in Los Angeles and Orange counties. An NFL stadium in Inglewood would take away a good share of that money.
According to ESPN reporter, Eric Williams, the San Diego franchise is showing signs of restlessness with the City’s inability to make a new football venue happen. Even if a new stadium deal is reached, it would cost between $1.2 and $1.5 billion, and require two-thirds voter approval. There are reports that San Diego officials would push for public financing, at least in part, which would likely cause such a proposal to fail.
Another idea would be to work out a deal in Inglewood where the Rams and the Chargers would share the stadium. Two teams playing in Inglewood for the price of one? Now, that’s an idea local football fans would really love.