On Wednesday, the NFL approved a lease deal that could bring the San Diego Chargers to play in Inglewood. Terms of the lease would allow the Chargers to share a yet-to-be-built stadium with the Los Angeles Rams, who recently relocated back to the L.A. area from St. Louis after a 22-year absence.
This is a major step toward securing a home stadium for the Chargers in the L.A. market, should they decide to move. The team has Jan. 15 to exercise their relocation option.
The Chargers stadium saga has been going on for several months, and reached a climax in November, when San Diego voters said no to a ballot initiative that would have increased hotel tax by 4% in order to raise money for a new stadium. The lease-agreement with Rams owner Stan Kroenke in Inglewood lowers the team’s risk because they do not have to borrow money for construction of the $2.6 billion project, which will be completed in 2019.
At Wednesday’s meeting, NFL owners also received market updates from league employees on the stadium situations in San Diego and Oakland as well as a proposal for a new stadium in Las Vegas. The Oakland Raiders, also looking for a new stadium deal, are first in line to play in Las Vegas if the relocation plan is approved. They would need the support of 24 of 32 owners to move, but it’s unclear whether owners will vote next month or in March at the NFL Annual Meeting in Phoenix.
With prospects of a new San Diego stadium no longer on the table, the Chargers are looking at three options: Make the move to Los Angeles and share the new Inglewood stadium with the Rams, continue playing at their old Qualcomm Stadium in San Diego and accept the city’s lease offer of $1 a year for 99 years, or see if the league approves a deal for the Raiders to play in Las Vegas. If that deal falls through, San Diego will be next in line.
If the Chargers decide to move to L.A., they will have to move immediately. They would also have to find a temporary stadium to play in until the one in Inglewood opens in 2019.
Meanwhile, the Chargers are talking to the L.A. Coliseum Commission about playing there next season. They’re also considering playing at the much smaller StubHub Center in Carson. Word is team insiders prefer the more intimate setting to being the third team to play at the Coliseum, which is currently being shared by the Rams and University of Southern California.