The hysteria level is growing, and it will only blind San Diegans to reality. Nick Canepa, sports columnist for the Union-Tribune, hallucinated in this morning's (July 8) column that "If the Chargers leave, we lose part of our soul.... The Chargers are an essential..." A Charger departure would be "a disaster for this town's image."
Oh, dear. Dear, dear. It's getting too late for an emotional outburst. It has been obvious for more than a dozen years that the Chargers were going down two tracks — they wanted to get to L.A. where they could double their value, but they wanted to keep San Diego in their pocket if they couldn't take the L.A. train. The team's claim that it wants to stay in San Diego is belied by every move it has made, particularly in recent months.
What could hurt San Diego's image is a national awareness that the city is trying to hasten an environmental study so the people can vote in January. Even the team's mouthpiece, Mark Fabiani, realizes what folly that is. For several months, he has been knocking down every city suggestion and denigrating the mayor and his minions — yet, city leaders desperately want the team to stay. Why, for heaven's sake?
Trying to convince San Diego that it wants to stay, while openly courting L.A., has been an impossible task for the Chargers. They have to alienate San Diegans so they can tell the National Football League that they aren't wanted — but still keep San Diego in their pocket should they fail to get to L.A. It can't be done.
There is a good question as to whether the Spanos family has the financial muscle to get to L.A. That means it is quite possible that the team will be sold — or, at least, half of it sold. There are many multi-billionaires with money burning holes in their pocket. Pro teams can go for ridiculous prices. If the Chargers can't get to L.A. and won't sell all or most of the team, they will not be welcome in San Diego and will face another problem: one or two teams occupying L.A. will drain the Chargers of 15 percent to 25 percent of their revenue.
If the Chargers return to San Diego, tails wagging behind them, there are two steps the city should take: (1) For 2020, draw up a new contract that forces the team to pay its way at Qualcomm; (2) If Qualcomm needs a facelift, get the Chargers to ante up for part of it.
Forget a new stadium. A city with a $2 billion infrastructure deficit that is probably twice that, and a pension deficit, should stop subsidizing billionaires and clean up the joint.