After raising hopes they’d stay, Chargers likely heading to L.A.

San Diego Chargers’ fans woke up Wednesday morning to hear the most encouraging news yet that the team wouldn’t be returning to Los Angeles after 55 years in San Diego: a report that the Chargers had asked, and the NFL had granted, a request for a two-day delay in when the team had to decide on whether to use its option to move to Los Angeles and share a $1.7 billion Inglewood stadium with the Los Angeles Rams after its construction is complete. Instead of a Sunday, Jan. 15, deadline, it was pushed back to Tuesday, Jan. 17.

Six weeks earlier, an ESPN report had depicted the Chargers’ departure as a sure thing. But the ugly end to the Rams’ first season back in Los Angeles had shaken up conventional wisdom. As the team’s losses mounted in what ended up a 4-12 season, the fan enthusiasm that helped the team sell out all its season tickets after moving from St. Louis evaporated. If the Los Angeles market wasn’t thrilled about one team unless it was successful, why would it like a second team with a recent history of exasperating fans?

But Wednesday evening brought the news that fans and San Diego leaders had dreaded: ESPN’s NFL insider Adam Schefter reported, seemingly definitively, that the Chargers would be leaving:

Almost one year to the day that the Rams moved to Los Angeles, the Chargers now likely intend to do the same.

The Chargers plan to announce as early as Thursday that they are moving to Los Angeles, league sources said, ending a 55-year stint with San Diego and returning to their birthplace.

The Chargers played their inaugural season in Los Angeles in 1960 before moving to San Diego in 1961.

The Chargers have notified NFL commissioner Roger Goodell and other league owners of their intent to move to Los Angeles for the 2017 season, sources said.

As CalWatchdog reported earlier this week, all signs suggest the Oakland Raiders will relocate to Las Vegas, so this appears likely to be the most turbulent year for California and professional sports since 1994, when the Los Angeles Rams headed to St. Louis and the Los Angeles Raiders moved back to Oakland.

San Diego has better chance than Oakland for new team

So is this the end for professional football in two of California’s iconic cities? Maybe in Oakland, maybe not in San Diego.

The San Francisco 49ers’ recent attendance woes at new Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara seem likely to depress enthusiasm for the idea that Oakland should partially subsidize a stadium for the Raiders, as the team and the NFL want.

But San Diego, the 17th largest metropolitan area in the U.S. and a global leader in biotechnology and life sciences industries, is in better shape. Its leaders appear ready to support a public stadium subsidy of up to $400 million.

A Yahoo News analysis from 2016 predicated on the idea that the Chargers would move to Los Angeles concluded that San Diego was the clear favorite to be home to the NFL’s next relocated team.

Chris Reed

Chris Reed

Chris Reed is a regular contributor to Cal Watchdog. Reed is an editorial writer for U-T San Diego. Before joining the U-T in July 2005, he was the opinion-page columns editor and wrote the featured weekly Unspin column for The Orange County Register. Reed was on the national board of the Association of Opinion Page Editors from 2003-2005. From 2000 to 2005, Reed made more than 100 appearances as a featured news analyst on Los Angeles-area National Public Radio affiliate KPCC-FM. From 1990 to 1998, Reed was an editor, metro columnist and film critic at the Inland Valley Daily Bulletin in Ontario. Reed has a political science degree from the University of Hawaii (Hilo campus), where he edited the student newspaper, the Vulcan News, his senior year. He is on Twitter: @chrisreed99.

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