An NFL team is upset that taxpayers won’t hand over money to fix its stadium. Word gets out the team is pondering a move to Los Angeles.

If you guessed I’m talking about the Chargers, you’re right. If you guessed I’m talking about any other team, you’re right.

In recent months, both the Miami Dolphins and Carolina Panthers have followed the NFL’s time-honored tradition of threatening to take their talents to the nation’s second-largest television market to squeeze public dollars out of their respective cities.

The Dolphins lost out on state funding for a proposed stadium renovation earlier this month, and its CEO wouldn’t say whether the team was staying in Miami. In January, Panthers owner Jerry Richardson was invited to a private meeting of Charlotte’s City Council, where city staff warned that Los Angeles was lurking should Charlotte not help pay for stadium renovations. The team eventually struck a deal for $87.5 million in taxpayer money.

This kind of maneuvering has happened as a matter of course during the almost two decades since Los Angeles has been without a team. The specter of Los Angeles is the NFL’s leverage with other cities.


We Stand Up for You. Will You Stand Up for Us?

Sam Farmer of the L.A. Times described one of the most outlandish efforts in a December 2010 Q-and-A:

One of your best insights during the Los Angeles stadium search is that Los Angeles has more value to the NFL without a team than with one. Can you explain what leverage the NFL has with a team-less L.A.?

Los Angeles is a huge hammer for the league to hold out there — for any team to intimate that they might relocate to Los Angeles, which seems like a very real and natural possibility. It’s the nation’s second-largest market. We saw it with (Saints owner) Tom Benson in New Orleans, we saw it with (Colts owner) Jim Irsay in Indianapolis. Jim Irsay had his Colts plane at Van Nuys Airport with the Colts horseshoe logo on the tail section and it was parked there for a week uncovered, uncanvassed, or whatever you say.

Their team plane?

Their team plane was parked.

He could have just been vacationing, he could have been visiting friends, he could have been doing anything, but it sent the message to Indianapolis that, “Wow, there’s a flirtation going on with Los Angeles. We better make a financial commitment to keep the Colts here.”

One of the reasons why the NFL will always hold out Los Angeles as a two-team market is because they don’t want to lose that leverage. If a team were to move to L.A., they don’t want to give up that trump card of, “We could still put another team there.”

When the Dolphins news came out, Farmer blasted recent speculation about teams moving.

Just two weeks ago, U-T San Diego sports columnist Kevin Acee insisted that the Chargers “will not wait forever” for a new stadium. He wrote:

The window of opportunity to get a stadium here is ajar. But we have learned that windows of opportunity don’t stay open very long with the Chargers.

If Acee was referring to the team’s declining ability to contend for a Super Bowl, he’s right. If he was referring to a stadium search, well, it’s been more than 10 years without much movement. That window’s pretty wide open.

San Diego has plenty of reasons to consider a new football stadium. The city losing $10 million-plus annually to run Qualcomm with tens of millions more in needed stadium fixes is a big one.

The team possibly moving to Los Angeles, however, isn’t one of them, at least for the foreseeable future.

Liam Dillon is a news reporter for Voice of San Diego. He covers how regular people interact with local government. What should he write about next?

Please contact him directly at liam.dillon@voiceofsandiego.org or 619.550.5663.

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    This article relates to: Government, News, Share, Sports

    Written by Liam Dillon

    Liam Dillon is senior reporter and assistant editor for Voice of San Diego. He leads VOSD’s investigations and writes about how regular people interact with local government. What should he write about next? Please contact him directly at liam.dillon@voiceofsandiego.org or 619.550.5663.

    22 comments
    DavidBenz
    DavidBenz

    Why should we pay a city wide or county wide sales tax to subsidize a billionaire family's private business?

    David Benz
    David Benz subscriber

    Why should we pay a city wide or county wide sales tax to subsidize a billionaire family's private business?

    DavidBenz
    DavidBenz

    There is no revenue model that will make financial sense for the city of San Diego, none, publicly funded stadium are nothing but welfare for billionaires. It's time to stop the madness, we don't need the Chargers. No public funding for a new stadium.

    David Benz
    David Benz subscriber

    There is no revenue model that will make financial sense for the city of San Diego, none, publicly funded stadium are nothing but welfare for billionaires. It's time to stop the madness, we don't need the Chargers. No public funding for a new stadium.

    Bill Bradshaw
    Bill Bradshaw subscribermember

    I think the most likely outcome is a new remodel of the Q. As for generating major new revenue from an improved facility, how many luxury seats at Petco are unfilled each game?

    toulon
    toulon

    I think the most likely outcome is a new remodel of the Q. As for generating major new revenue from an improved facility, how many luxury seats at Petco are unfilled each game?

    Patrick Flynn
    Patrick Flynn subscriber

    Those are good points, but in the case of Denver, it should be acknowledged that the bond financing was the obligation of 6 counties together, not just the City of Denver. When we talk about stadium financing in San Diego, the emphasis seems to be focused on the City of San Diego, and not any of the surrounding cities in the region. The Chargers are a regional team, certainly a new facility should be supported by the region, not just the City of San Diego.

    patrick_flynn
    patrick_flynn

    Those are good points, but in the case of Denver, it should be acknowledged that the bond financing was the obligation of 6 counties together, not just the City of Denver. When we talk about stadium financing in San Diego, the emphasis seems to be focused on the City of San Diego, and not any of the surrounding cities in the region. The Chargers are a regional team, certainly a new facility should be supported by the region, not just the City of San Diego.

    Andy Cohen
    Andy Cohen subscriber

    Not true. Denver is doing just fine with both their baseball stadium and their football stadium, both paid for with the aid of a 1/2 cent sales tax increase, and both paid off in full as of right now. Pretty sure Baltimore's happy with both of their stadiums, too. If it's done right, it can work for the public interests.

    Andy Cohen
    Andy Cohen

    Not true. Denver is doing just fine with both their baseball stadium and their football stadium, both paid for with the aid of a 1/2 cent sales tax increase, and both paid off in full as of right now. Pretty sure Baltimore's happy with both of their stadiums, too. If it's done right, it can work for the public interests.

    Eva Vargas
    Eva Vargas subscriber

    I want Charger's, Padre's to stay, but do I need'em, with all the stuff we need, need to fix?NO!

    evavrgs
    evavrgs

    I want Charger's, Padre's to stay, but do I need'em, with all the stuff we need, need to fix?NO!

    David Benz
    David Benz subscriber

    Our only hope is to say no to any deal and run the Spanos family out of town.

    DavidBenz
    DavidBenz

    Our only hope is to say no to any deal and run the Spanos family out of town.

    Andy Cohen
    Andy Cohen subscriber

    Other teams have used LA as a direct threat. The Chargers never have. That needs to be acknowledged.

    Andy Cohen
    Andy Cohen

    Other teams have used LA as a direct threat. The Chargers never have. That needs to be acknowledged.

    David Hall
    David Hall subscriber

    Exactly. To suggest that replacing Qualcomm stadium would fix the annual loss is naive at best. Somebody hasn't been paying attention to city history.

    sdguy
    sdguy

    Exactly. To suggest that replacing Qualcomm stadium would fix the annual loss is naive at best. Somebody hasn't been paying attention to city history.

    Bill Bradshaw
    Bill Bradshaw subscribermember

    Where’s the evidence that a new Chargers‘ playpen won’t increase the losses once again?

    toulon
    toulon

    Where’s the evidence that a new Chargers‘ playpen won’t increase the losses once again?

    Erik Bruvold
    Erik Bruvold subscribermember

    A great study if one could get their hands on Nielsen ratings for the LA market would be to compare NFL Sunday viewership with some other large metro regions over some decent period of time (4-5-6 years). The difference (if any) between LA viewership and say the average of Chicago, SF, NY and Dallas, is the main value of putting an NFL franchise to the league in LA. This is because the TV contracts are nationally negotiated. If viewership for football in LA is the same (or even HIGHER) without a team there, then there is NO value to the league OTHER than as a threat to trot out and bludgeon politicians (and reporters like Acee) who haven't spent enough time thinking about NFL economics.

    ErikBruvold
    ErikBruvold

    A great study if one could get their hands on Nielsen ratings for the LA market would be to compare NFL Sunday viewership with some other large metro regions over some decent period of time (4-5-6 years). The difference (if any) between LA viewership and say the average of Chicago, SF, NY and Dallas, is the main value of putting an NFL franchise to the league in LA. This is because the TV contracts are nationally negotiated. If viewership for football in LA is the same (or even HIGHER) without a team there, then there is NO value to the league OTHER than as a threat to trot out and bludgeon politicians (and reporters like Acee) who haven't spent enough time thinking about NFL economics.