The Chargers have played their final game in San Diego. Dean Spanos has decided to move the team to Los Angeles, beginning in the 2017 season.
While the writing has been on the wall for this move for quite some time, people in San Diego are sad and angry. And they want answers.
“I’d say that more of (the blame) falls on the owner because the owner of an NFL team needs to be visible in the community,” CBS NFL Sideline Reporter and San Diego’s “Scott and BR Show” co-host Scott Kaplan said on CBS Sports Radio’s The Doug Gottlieb Show. “He also needs to be a politician, although unelected. He needs to have relationships with all the power players in town – not just people who have money, but people who have influence. Dean Spanos doesn’t have the personality, doesn’t have the desire, to rub elbows with people – not just the influential, (but) just people people in general. He’s a very reclusive, bashful, shy kind of personality. Maybe he has some kind of social anxiety disorder for all I know. But the point is, he’s not the kind of person that would get himself out there in politics.
“So look, there’s a lot of blame to go around here,” Kaplan continued. “The local politicians that are currently in office and those that have been in office for the last 20 years who, themselves, have sworn they’ll never do anything to help the Chargers because they’ve gotten themselves into so many bad deals with the Chargers. But that’s because they didn’t have the level of sophistication to negotiate with people like Dean’s father, Alex Spanos. But listen, there’s a ton of blame to go around today, but today is one of these days where this city is just in agonizing pain.”
In November, the Chargers received only 43 percent of the vote on Measure C, which would have raised hotel taxes from 12.5 percent to 16.5 percent to secure $1.15 billion to pay for a $1.8 billion downtown stadium and convention center.
“Well, I loved the concept,” Kaplan said. “Currently the hotel tax is 12 percent here in San Diego, which is way, way, way under cities like San Francisco, L.A., Irvine and places in California, not to mention places like Houston, (where it’s) 17 percent. It was a great idea to take that extra money and build a stadium and convention center. But the relationship between the ownership of the Chargers and the city of San Diego – not just the city, not just the city council, I’m talking about the people of San Diego – the relationship was so splintered that people didn’t trust the Chargers. It was a very rushed election. There was virtually no campaigning. It was a great idea: Let’s charge people out of town more money for hotel rooms.”
Not everyone – not even the majority – saw it that way.
“But you know what the biggest resistance was?” Kaplan said. “It wasn’t just from the people who owned the hotels who said, ‘How dare you tax my business to pay for your business.’ There was some of that. But the next part of it was people saying, ‘Wait a second. If we’re going to raise this hotel-room tax rate by four percent and we’re going to raise all this extra money, why are we building a stadium with it? Why aren’t we hiring more cops? Why aren’t we building more fire stations? Why aren’t we fixing our roads? Why aren’t we putting more money into other things that a city would need other than a football stadium? Now of course from my perspective, I thought it was the most brilliant thing. Let the out-of-owners pay for it. But it was not a well-run campaign, and most people think – and assume, by the way – that the campaign was nothing other than $10 million of marketing money and you marketed that you were trying to stay so that the fans would continue to support you when in actuality the decision had been made a long time ago.”
Still, Kaplan is hopeful that something will happen before the Chargers officially leave San Diego.
“In the back of my mind – could be denial, could be delusional Charger fan – in the back of my mind I’m thinking (there’s still a chance they’ll stay),” Kaplan said. “I don’t believe it’s really even over quite yet.”